With Hannah Stuelke returning, Iowa women’s basketball prepares for Colorado’s double-post play

The Hawkeyes will go up against their second two-post team in a row when they take on the Buffaloes on Friday.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa women’s basketball freshman Hannah Stuelke talks with media ahead of second-seeded Iowa’s game against sixth-seeded Colorado in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 at Climate Pledge Arena on March 23, 2023.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

SEATTLE — Iowa women’s basketball found itself in unfamiliar territory going up against Georgia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs brought a double-post defense against the Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on March 19 and befuddled center Monika Czinano, who went just 9-of-16 from the field — below her season average shooting percentage of 67.5.

But the Hawkeyes prevailed over the Bulldogs, 74-66, to move on to the Sweet 16 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.

And Iowa found itself going up against yet another double-post team in sixth-seeded Colorado.

“Two games in a row we’re going to be facing a double-post offense,” head coach Lisa Bluder said on Thursday. “Destiny helps, right? I mean, it’s just a situation of we haven’t seen that hardly at all this year, the entire year, and now we’re seeing it two games in a row. So, I think last week will help prepare us.”

Colorado senior center Quay Miller, who transferred from Washington ahead of the 2021-22 season, averages 13.1 points and 8.7 rebounds in 33 starts for the Buffaloes. Aaronette Vonleh, the Buffaloes’ second center, averages 12.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Both stand at 6-foot-3 — the same height as Czinano.

“I know Quay Miller is a fabulous player, All-Pac 12 player,” Bluder said. “ … [Aaronette] I mean, as a sophomore, her field goal percentage the last five games is almost 70 percent. That’s like Monika numbers. That’s impressive. That’s a very, very impressive thing.”

On the other side, the Buffaloes are preparing for Czinano’s unique style of play — the fifth-year senior scored 20 points against Georgia without taking a dribble in the paint.

“She’s very strong, it’s impressive that she gets her buckets without even dribbling,” Miller said. “Not a lot of people can do that because it comes with great footwork and your positioning. I think keeping her out of the [paint] is going to be a full 40 minutes of work.”

But the Hawkeyes now have another weapon against the two-post play: freshman center Hannah Stuelke, who averages seven points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game.

Stuelke, who is usually the first off the bench for the Hawkeyes, missed Iowa’s game against Georgia after landing on a teammate’s foot and spraining her right ankle in practice. 

But as someone who goes through ankle injuries frequently, she expected it to happen sooner or later.

“I used to sprain my ankles a lot,” Stuelke said. “So, this being the first time this year is actually really good.”

Now, after a week of rehabilitations — which included needling, zero-gravity running, and pool work — Stuelke is near 100 percent to play against Colorado.

And Stuelke’s differing style of play will be crucial for the Hawkeyes against the Buffaloes’ two posts.

“Hannah having the ability to come in at the 5 just throws a type of offense at the defense that they’re probably not used to seeing,” Czinano said. “I’m such a traditional back-to-the-basket post. I never dribble, really, if I can help it, and Hannah dribbles.It’s so dynamic, and she’s such a great rebounder. I think it just gives the defense two completely different looks that they have to be ready for. Having her back is so, so helpful in that regard.”