Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) drives to the basket as Michigan State guard DeeDee Hagemann (0) defends during a NCAA Big Ten Conference women’s basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.
This Wednesday’s Cy-Hawk matchup will feature a pair of top-15 teams dueling it out at Hilton Coliseum.
Kyle Huesmann of Rivals‘ HawkeyeReport and myself broke down what the opposing team may see in the rivalry showdown.
1. With Kylie Feuerbach transferring from Iowa State to Iowa last off-season, how much motivation do you think she has to perform in this game? How has she played so far in Lisa Bluder’s system?
I have not gotten to ask her about it yet, but you would have to assume there is a little extra excitement given the circumstances. There aren’t many players that make the move across the state as a transfer across all sports. I would guess there will be a few text messages exchanged between her former teammates this week. As for how she has been fitting in, she has had a few good games. She is pretty solid on defense and is looking to improve on the offensive end. She can drive to the hoop and drop off some assists but turns it over a little too much. Really interested in how much better she can get once she is with the program for more time.
2. For teams that have been able to stop Monika Czinano, what did they do to limit her production?
Really kind of a funny question because if there is a recipe to stop Czinano, then no one has found it yet. Going back to last season, she was held under 10 points just twice all season. She is a lot like Luka Garza in the fact that if she gets the ball near the hoop it’s almost an automatic two points. She is so good at converting baskets and it helps that she has the best assist player in women’s basketball feeding her the ball. You’re not likely to hold her below 10 points and you almost have to pencil her in for 10-15 points whether you like it or not. Having said all of that, she does not have a ton of range when it comes to shooting. She is not a center that can also step out and hit a 3 and she really doesn’t step out much away from the hoop. There will be the occasional midrange jump or short corner shot, but 95% of her points come from the post, so if I had to give a recipe, it would be trying to force her away from the hoop as much as possible and force a few midrange shots because that is a shot she doesn’t take a lot.
3. Can Iowa State take away anything from Iowa’s loss to Duke, or was the result more related to the Hawkeyes not playing a game in two weeks?
I think after seeing Iowa play vs. Michigan State, you can chalk it up to having two weeks off. Everything that they worked on all offseason went wrong that game and Caitlin Clark was 1/13 from behind the 3pt line. I think their environment was something they hadn’t seen yet, so a big crowd at Hilton would be helpful for ISU, but the performance was not like them and the MSU game was an indication that it was an anomaly.
4. What is the weakness of this Iowa team and is it simply Caitlin Clark not scoring enough?
We saw Caitlin Clark force a lot of shots against Duke and it did not pan out well, so I don’t know if it’s necessarily her not scoring because she still had 22 points, but it’s more when she doesn’t have the good shot selection. Deep 3-point shots and early shots in the shot clock killed a lot of possessions that game. The other weaknesses are defensive rebounding and turnovers. Again both things that flared up vs. Duke. They have a tendency to watch shots and not find someone to box out then their opponent will grab 15 offensive rebounds and add defensive possessions to the game. If Iowa State can grab offensive rebounds and force turnovers they will have a good shot to win the game.
5. What is your matchup to watch on the court?
I’ll go with Monika Czinano up against ISUs centers Kane and Zingaro. Clark, Warnock and Czinano are the three big scorers every game, but if the Clones can’t stop Czinano she has the ability to go for 25-30 because Clark will continue to feed her in the post. It’s also a big matchup on the boards. Czinano is not the rebounder you expect for being 6’3 and they will need her to crash the boards to help limit some of those offensive rebounds I mentioned. Iowa can’t rely on Warnock and Clark to grab all the rebounds.
6. What are the keys to the game for Iowa and What is your prediction?
Keys to the game for Iowa are all things I have mentioned above. Box out and grab defensive boards and limit second-chance points. Play a clean game and don’t turn it over. Lastly, Caitlin Clark needs to get going from behind the 3pt line, which is probably something you didn’t expect to hear. She is shooting 24.6% from 3 for the season and has made 3/22 since they returned to the court. If she can get going and knock down 4-5 3pt shots I think Iowa has a really good chance of winning.
Ultimately, I think this is going to be a close four-quarter game. I was on the fence for my pick after the Duke game, but seeing them bounce back vs Michigan State has me thinking they are back on track. I’ll take the Hawkeyes, but a Cyclones win is certainly a reasonable pick.