Iowa women’s basketball guard Sydney Affolter viable option off the bench

The sophomore is one of the first Hawkeyes off the bench, playing in 20 of Iowa’s 21 games so far this season.


Madyson Gomez

Iowa guard Sydney Affolter looks to pass during a women’s basketball game between No. 10 Iowa and Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers, 80-76.

Sam Knupp, Sports Reporter

Sydney Affolter is becoming a solid option off the bench for the Iowa women’s basketball team in her second season on the squad.

The sophomore from Chicago has seen an uptick in playing time in the Hawkeyes’ recent games and has scored 37 points in 115 minutes of conference play.

While Affolter isn’t typically a high-scorer, head coach Lisa Bluder said she brings value off the bench with offensive rebounding. She’s also improved significantly on defense since last season, Bluder said.

Affolter has historically been a 3-point threat, as she twice qualified for the Illinois Queen of the Hill 3-point shootout in high school. She was also a three-time All-State and All-Region honoree for Marist High School

“I don’t expect Syd to come off the bench and have 15 points,” Bluder said. “But if she can be a threat from outside like she has been the last few games, and really make defenses play her out there, to me that’s significant.”

RELATED: Iowa women’s basketball’s Caitlin Clark, Lisa Bluder advocate for passionate play

Affolter has played in 20 of the Hawkeyes’ games this season and put up a career-high 12 points in Iowa’s 108-67 win over Penn State on Jan. 14.

Despite averaging 10.1 points per game, she didn’t play over 10 minutes against a ranked opponent until Iowa’s 83-72 win over then-No. 2 Ohio State in Columbus on Jan. 22. Affolter bagged four points and two rebounds in 11 minutes, shooting 2-for-5 from the field.

Part of what makes Affolter an appealing option is her efficiency, Bluder said.  The sophomore guard shot 23.7 percent from the field as a freshman, and she’s shooting 50 percent this year. She’s also nearly doubled her assist total from the 2021-22 season — Affolter dished out eight assists in 19 games last season and has 15 in 20 games in 2022-23.

“It’s one thing to have depth, and it’s another thing to have depth you can count on,” Bluder said. “And Syd has turned into that person that we can count on. And we know she’s going to come in and provide us with a spark off the bench.”

Bluder said depth is going to be huge for the Hawkeyes come February when Iowa will play eight games throughout the 28-day month. Three of those games will come against top-10 opponents — the Hawkeyes will play No. 6 Indiana twice and No.10 Maryland once.

Affolter is one of the first players off the bench this season, along with freshman Hannah Stuelke.

Stuelke has played more than 20 minutes in each of Iowa’s last two games and grabbed nine and 13 rebounds against Michigan State and Ohio State, respectively. Stuelke has averaged 14 minutes and 9.57 points per game since Iowa’s contest against Purdue on Dec. 29.

“I think we just focus on being a spark off the bench,” Affolter said of her and Stuelke’s play. “We know we need to play hard when we go and give our starters a break.”

The Hawkeyes currently have a 9-1 conference record — tied for first in the Big Ten with Indiana. Iowa will put its league-leading record on the line when it takes on Maryland at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday.

Facebook Comments