‘People have to really pick their poison’: South Carolina women’s basketball scouts Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, starting five

Behind Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano, the Gamecocks know the Hawkeyes have three more formidable members of the starting lineup.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley speaks to the media during a 2023 NCAA Final Four press conferences and open practices at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

DALLAS — Iowa women’s basketball has a strong supporting cast.

Behind national player of the year Caitlin Clark and center Monika Czinano — who average 27.3 and 17.2 points per game, respectively — the Hawkeyes have three more powerful members of the starting lineup.

Senior forward McKenna Warnock averages double figures at 11.1 points per game, senior guard Gabbie Marshall can easily knock down 3-pointers, and the Hawkeyes frequently refer to senior guard Kate Martin as the “glue” of the team.

“People have to really pick their poison,” Czinano said. “They can really clog the paint, and then we have Gabbie and Makenna and Caitlin who are really doing their thing out there. Or they can choose to respect them for their game and leave me more open.”

South Carolina runs a double-post offense, with forward Aliyah Boston and center Kamilla Cardoso frequently clogging the paint.

But coming into their third consecutive Final Four game, the Gamecocks are fully aware of the Hawkeyes’ versatility and depth.

“They have a whole starting five we have to worry about,” South Carolina senior guard Zia Cooke said. “I think if we get too focused on the main player, we’ll let others get off. So, coach definitely emphasized on that, making sure that we’re playing everyone. Everyone that’s on the floor is doing their defensive job to stop their team from doing what they usually do.”

But South Carolina is prepared. While the Hawkeyes’ guard-post duo is formidable, the Gamecocks have experience with the same type of offense in the SEC.

“I think our whole league has prepared us,” senior center Aliyah Boston said. “There are teams we play with great post players and great guards that do a good job passing the ball. I think we’ve been prepared for that, just understanding how we’re going to do that. We’re scouting them, understanding what they do well, just understanding that we’re going to have to compete, be ready for 40 minutes, and just pressure them.”

The Hawkeyes usually have a balanced scoring attack, but Clark is always in the middle of it all. Averaging 8.8 assists per game along with her 27.3-point clip, Clark accounts for 57 percent of Iowa’s offense.

On top of that, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said, Clark is unpredictable. She can pull up from the logo to make a 3-point shot, pivot to a no-look pass, or drive into the paint for a layup.

And, Staley said, every one of the Gamecocks wants a chance to guard Clark.

“It’s going to take all of them probably and more to guard Caitlin,” Staley said. “She is someone that is unpredictable, like she’ll be able to pivot and take and make incredible shots, both from outside, way outside the three, to at the rim. So we got to show her different looks in order for us to hopefully keep her somewhat under control.”

Iowa’s matchup against South Carolina, which tips off at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, will be the best offense vs. the best defense. The Hawkeyes average 87.6 points per game, but the Gamecocks only allow 51.1. The two sides will collide at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

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