The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa women’s basketball running familiar faces in new roles, anticipating No. 8 Virginia Tech

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said the team is “as prepared as we can be” and “ready to go” ahead of the Nov. 9 matchup.
Grace Smith
Iowa guard Molly Davis, guard Kylie Feuerbach, and guard Taylor McCabe celebrate a play during a home opener basketball game between No. 3 Iowa and Fairleigh Dickinson at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. Iowa scored 66 points in the paint compared to FDU’s 16. The Hawkeyes, defeated the Knights, 102-46.

The Iowa women’s basketball 2023 season is underway, with the same team boasting familiar faces in new roles amid a tougher plan of attack.

After an adjective score win over Fairleigh Dickinson to open the season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Nov. 6, the No. 3 Hawkeyes will turn around quickly to battle No. 8 Virginia Tech on a neutral court in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday in just the second game of the season.

“I think we’re as prepared as we can be. This team is ready to go,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We’re not easing into it, though, and that’s the hard part. I think it’s a real opportunity for us and it’s a real opportunity for Virginia Tech. That game doesn’t make or break this season, but it is great national attention for us, and it’s going to be a wonderful event.”

The Hokies joined the Hawkeyes as two of the four teams in the NCAA Tournament Final Four last season before they fell to the eventual champions LSU Tigers, 79-72, as Iowa did in the National Championship, finishing runner-up.

“Really tough, really tough,” Bluder said of the contest. “I know a lot of people have sometimes scheduled some easier ones up front, but this was an opportunity we thought would be a really neat thing for women’s basketball.”

The highly anticipated contest comes in light of magnified attention put on the Hawkeyes after last year’s postseason run, exemplified by their record-breaking Crossover at Kinnick event in October.

Bluder doesn’t quite want to silence that attention the team has earned, citing its benefits for the university, sport, and state of Iowa.

“I don’t want to [reduce the attention] because I think it is something that you work hard to receive, but certainly with that brings more pressure,” Bluder said. “That’s what I want to taper down with our team is not the attention but the pressure that it does bring.”

This time around, despite losing stars Taylor Soule and Kayana Traylor to the WNBA, the Hokies retain standout guard Georgia Amoore, a lights-out three-point shooter who was named last year’s most outstanding player of the Seattle Regional.

Virginia Tech will also return fifth-year center Elizabeth Kitley to the post as she looks to win her third-straight ACC Player of the Year nod after a historic season last year that culminated in her being named a second-team All-American as well.

As always, though, Caitlin Clark will receive the bulk of the shots and subsequent attention in each of the Hawkeyes’ games. However, Iowa guards Molly Davis and Sydney Affolter have made confident leaps during the offseason, and Kylie Feuerbach is healthy after missing last season to injury.

While Clark and guards Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall return to keep the same Hawkeye backcourt, the team will boast a different look down low.

In place of Monika Czinano, who graduated last year and now plays overseas in Budapest, third-year Addison O’Grady now holds the center position.

O’Grady will play a massive role in the post for the Hawkeyes after seeing her minutes from her first to second season drop from 319 to just 179 despite playing almost half of last year’s National Championship game alone.

In the power forward position, McKenna Warnock, who also graduated last year, is replaced by second-year Hannah Stuelke, last year’s Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year.

Frequently coming off the bench as a center to replace Czinano last season, Stuelke took the offseason to develop her jump shot, better suiting her to stretch the floor as a four this time around.

“It’s a mindset more than anything,” Bluder said. “It’s understanding that she belongs … She doesn’t have a clue how good she is. That’s endearing, but you want somebody to own it [and to] understand how good they are because that brings a level of self-confidence to their game and to the floor.”

Although it may sometimes be “The Caitlin Show,” as Stuelke agreed to call it after Iowa’s exhibition matchup against Clarke University on Oct. 22, last year’s AP Player of the Year has plenty of support around her.

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About the Contributors
Colin Votzmeyer
Colin Votzmeyer, Assistant Sports Editor
Colin Votzmeyer is a junior at the University of Iowa studying journalism and mass communication with minors in history and criminology, law, and justice. Prior to his role as assistant sports editor, he previously served as digital producer, news reporter covering crime, cops, and courts, and sports reporter covering track and field and women's basketball. He plans on attending law school after his graduation with hopes of pursuing a career as a criminal defense attorney.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.