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

Column | How the Iowa women’s basketball team can win the NCAA Championship

The Iowa women’s basketball team has great potential to win this year’s NCAA Championship — on one condition.
Grace Smith
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark and Iowa guard Kate Martin celebrate a win during a women’s basketball game between No. 5 Iowa and Nebraska in a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 92-73.

The Iowa women’s basketball team has great potential to win this year’s NCAA Championship — on one condition.

The Hawkeyes, with their offensive powerhouse averaging 90.9 points per game and defensive fortress holding opponents to an average of just 67.2, are one of a few favorites to win this year’s title as they sit atop an impressive 19-2 record thus far with some impressive wins.

And some close, nail-biting ones. And some losses too.

“Offensive powerhouse” is not quite the right term to describe this team when you look at those closer games and losses the Hawkeyes have suffered this season.

Caitlin Clark has the green light like no other player in college basketball. And to have her pour in 30 or 40 points a night and put the team on her back will work against the Nebraskas and Wisconsins of the hoops world — but what about the top-ranked teams who can really match up pound-for-pound with Iowa?

To win a championship this season, the Hawkeyes need a wider scoring effort on offense, and the statistics show why.

Iowa fell to now-No. 4 Kansas State by seven in the fourth game of the season, and Clark struggled. She finished with just 24 points on 9-of-32 from the field and 2-of-16 from deep. Only guard Molly Davis scored in double-digits behind her with just 10.

On Jan. 2, Clark saved the day with a buzzer-beating three to boost the Hawkeyes over the Michigan State Spartans for a three-point win — in which she scored 40, but only forward Hannah Stuelke scored double-digits too with 15.

And the Hawkeyes’ second loss of the season came to No. 12 Ohio State by eight in overtime on Jan. 21, in which Clark had a season-high 45. Davis and Stuelke finished with just 14 and 10, respectively, well behind despite an extra five minutes of clock.

Those three games — not to mention the narrow win over Iowa State on Dec. 6 — serve as proof that Clark is not superhuman. She needs help.

Championship-caliber basketball teams are never one-person shows. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. LeBron James had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Just last year, Angel Reese had Alexis Morris and Flau’jae Johnson.

So when Caitlin Clark is off, this team is not bulletproof. But when that help arrives, there is nothing in this team’s way.

Everyone thought now-No. 14 Indiana would give Iowa its best game of the year. Nope. 84-57, Hawks. And in that contest, Clark scored 30, yes, but Davis also had 18, while guards Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin had 12 and 10, respectively. That’s four Hawkeyes in double-digits.

That’s the scoring effort that makes the Hawkeyes so good against even the most solid of opponents such as the Hoosiers — opponents this Iowa team will face again and again this postseason.

To make it to April once more, that effort will need to be locked in. Because every championship team is just that — a team.

I understand there is more to the game than just scoring. Defense is crucial, as are rebounding and ball security. But the evidence is there: Clark needs help, and if she gets it, this Iowa team can beat anyone.

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About the Contributors
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, 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.