Iowa women’s basketball’s 1993 Final Four squad has high hopes for 2023 team

The 1993 Iowa women’s basketball squad — the last to make it to the Final Four — believes Lisa Bluder and the Hawkeyes have what it takes to bring home the hardware and finish what they started.


Contributed photo by Hawkeye Athletics

Iowa’s Necole Tunsil (left) and Tia Jackson (right) compete in the 1993 NCAA Tournament Final Four women’s basketball game between Iowa and Ohio State in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday, April 3, 1993. The Buckeyes defeated the Hawkeyes, 73-72, in overtime. Ohio State lost to Texas Tech in the finals, 84-82.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

Members of the Iowa women’s basketball 1993 Final Four squad still keep in touch.

When this year’s Hawkeyes prevailed over the Louisville Cardinals, 97-83, in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in Seattle on March 26, their text group chat was buzzing with excitement and reminiscence.

Behind Caitlin Clark’s record-setting 40-point triple double, the 2023 Hawkeyes joined the 1993 squad as the only other team to reach the Final Four in program history.

“We’re so excited for this group to join the club,” Linda Myers, an assistant coach for Iowa in 1993, said Monday. “It’s such a special experience. It’s hard to describe even now what it means and how few people have this opportunity.”

Necole Tunsil, who was a junior and starting forward for Iowa in 1993, has been rooting for the Hawkeyes from St. Petersburg, Florida. Tunsil started looking up tickets for Iowa’s national semifinal matchup with South Carolina right after Sunday’s victory and hopes to join the Hawkeye faithful in Dallas on Friday.

Until then, Tunsil said she will continue repping the Hawkeye logo loud and proud around the Sunshine State. When the Lakewood High School teacher and head girls’ basketball coach walked into work Monday morning, she was dressed head to toe in Black and Gold.

“I’ve made it my business to party in this great sunshine while the Hawkeyes are playing, and they haven’t disappointed me yet,” Tunsil said on Monday. “I don’t know if kids will be taught today at this high school. I’m just so hyped and so excited. I walked through, and everyone was like, ‘I knew you were going to wear your Iowa gear today.’”

What makes these Final Four berths even more meaningful are the tragic circumstances each team overcame to make it there.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1992, Iowa head coach C. Vivian Stringer’s husband, Bill Stringer, died unexpectedly from a heart attack. In the summer before his death, Bill Stringer acted as the squad’s strength and conditioning coach.

Tunsil said Bill Stringer was an integral part of preparation for the Hawkeyes’ historic season and that they wanted to play hard for him every time they took the court.

This was evident in the 1993 Hawkeyes’ 72-56 triumph over Tennessee to advance to the program’s first Final Four. Myers still gets emotional when recalling the bittersweet victory over the Vols.

“The end of the game against Tennessee — I can still see it in slow motion in my memory,” Myers, who is now an advisor at the University of Iowa College of Nursing, said. “I remember our coaching staff on the sideline finally sitting down after the game and looking at each other and saying, ‘We’re going.’ But to look across and know that Bill wasn’t with us was the bittersweet part.”

Similar to the hardships the 1993 squad endured, Iowa assistant coach Jan Jensen lost her father, Dale Jensen, at 86 years old to pancreatic cancer the morning of the Hawkeyes’ game against the Cardinals.

For both teams, the adversity was seen as an opportunity to play for something bigger than themselves. Clark told ESPN’s Holly Rowe after Sunday’s game that the Hawkeyes willed their way to victory for Jan and Dale Jensen.

“Adversity can either tear you apart or build you and make you stronger,” Myers said. “I imagine that the support that coach Jensen and her family felt [Sunday] was the same support we felt when we battled through the unfortunate circumstances that had happened to our team that year.”

Myers and Tunsil think what’s special about this season’s squad is their balance and love for one another. While Clark, a National Player of the Year finalist, is in the spotlight, Myers and Tunsil emphasized how everyone on the team plays an important role.

Tunsil said she thinks Iowa’s bench is overlooked, and opponents have to pick their poison when guarding the sharpshooting Hawkeyes. She was particularly impressed by freshman Hannah Stuelke’s showing off the bench when McKenna Warnock got into foul trouble on Sunday night.

“Nobody can do it by themself,” Myers said. “Caitlin Clark can play, but she wouldn’t be able to do the things she does without the rest of her team. And what a great team they’ve put together. They have that circle of strength — when one has been down, another seems to step up.”

Iowa ended up falling to Ohio State in the 1993 Final Four, 73-72, in overtime. This season, Tunsil and Myers hope the Hawkeyes will finish what their squad started.

“It’s been a long time coming, and they have an opportunity to do something that we were not able to do — and that’s winning a national championship,” Tunsil said. “I’m forever a Hawkeye, and I know I speak for all my Hawkeye sisters when I say that. We all want them to bring home the hardware. They have all the pieces to win a national championship, and I just pray they do it.”

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