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

Point/Counterpoint | Where will Iowa women’s basketball finish in the Big Ten next season?

Two Daily Iowan staffers debate the Hawkeyes’ ceiling after losing Caitlin Clark. Sports Editor Kenna Roering says the team will finish fifth in the Big Ten, while Sports Reporter Cooper Worth thinks the addition of Lucy Olsen will help the team place in the top three.

Top three in the Big Ten

Two words: Lucy Olsen.

The recent Villanova transfer will fill in wonderfully for the departing Caitlin Clark in terms of her ability to make shots from all over the court. While she may not have the same playmaking abilities as Clark to get her teammates involved, she makes up for it with her defense.

Olsen, whose 23.3 points per game ranked her third nationally behind only Clark and USC’s JuJu Watkins, has increased her stats substantially in every season during her time with the Wildcats. I see this continuing in Iowa’s guard-friendly scheme.

It’s not just Olsen, though, as Iowa will return two starters from last year’s squad with forward Hannah Stuelke and guard Sydney Affolter, who saw considerable improvements on the court during their first season playing valuable minutes for the Hawkeyes.

Affolter averaged 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds during Iowa’s postseason run. At the same time, Stuelke proved she could hold her own playing the center position while defending against top-tier post-talents like Angel Reese and Aaliyah Edwards. Losing guards Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall will be a big blow for the Hawkeyes due to how much they played a part in the program’s identity these past four years. However, fellow guard Kylie Feuerbach proved to be a viable option backing up Martin and Marshall and was one of the more overlooked perimeter defenders for the Hawkeyes during the final stretch of their regular season games.

Taylor McCabe fits that gritty, leave-it-all-out-on-the-court mentality that Marshall possessed while also having the ability to pull up from beyond the arc.  In addition to all these players who were a part of Iowa’s back-to-back national championship runs, the Hawkeyes are also bringing in four ESPN top-100 players in the 2024 class. Perhaps I’m naive, but the future looks promising for Iowa going forward.

Fifth in the Big Ten

I’m going to give Iowa women’s basketball a bit of room for growing pains and put the Hawkeyes at fifth place in the Big Ten.

While I think Lisa Bluder’s bunch is capable of finishing higher, especially with the addition of guard Lucy Olsen, the Hawkeye offense has relied on Caitlin Clark for the last four years. Plus, it’s pretty much impossible to replace the leadership of Kate Martin or the defensive prowess of Gabbie Marshall. I don’t think it’s fair to put too high of expectations on the Hawkeyes next season.

While Iowa lost three starters — four if you count Molly Davis before her injury — other squads in the conference are bringing back experience and star power.

For Nebraska, who battled with Iowa in the Big Ten title game, more familiar faces remain. Forward Natalie Potts started all 35 games for the Huskers in her first collegiate season and earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Alexis Markowski is another advantage down low for Nebraska. She averaged a career-high 15.7 points and 10.5 rebounds in 2023 and has been on the Naismith Trophy Watch List for the last two years.

Ohio State won the Big Ten regular-season title, but its loss to Iowa right before the postseason seemed to cool down the Buckeyes’ hot streak. They lost in the first round of the conference tournament and were booted out by Duke in the round 32.

Regardless of last season’s ending, Ohio State is sure to reload and pose another threat next year. The Buckeyes have already picked up former Oregon point guard Chance Gray from the transfer portal. Gray finished this past season, her second with the Ducks, with 13.9 points per game and added a team-high three assists per contest. Incoming five-star recruit Jaloni Cambridge and four-star prospect Ava Watson will also join the team this summer.

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About the Contributors
Cooper Worth
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.
Kenna Roering
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.