IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa’s doing what it’s supposed to right now. These past two games against Oral Roberts and Hampton have been glorified scrimmages, and the box scores reflect that.
Last Friday, Hawkeyes 96, Oral Roberts 76. Sunday, Hawkeyes 84, Hampton 51.
Four players scored in double digits against Hampton, Hannah Stewart netted a career-high 10 and 10 players logged double-digit minutes. In the first two games, Iowa has outscored opponents 24-4 on the fastbreak, 55-20 from the bench and 110-36 in the paint.
Translation: The Hawkeyes are dominating.
Iowa faces its first true test this Wednesday. After taking an NCAA-mandated day of rest Monday, it’ll practice Tuesday then travel to Grand Forks, N.D., to play Wednesday against North Dakota, who lost 99-91 to Drake last Friday. We’ll get a better barometer for Iowa then.
But for now, here are some takeaways from the Hawkeyes’ 84-51 win over Hampton.
Coley, Doyle and Platoon Two
The platoon system was still in effect Sunday.
Makenzie Meyer, Megan Gustafson, Ally Disterhoft, Tania Davis and Bre Cera started. Stewart, Kathleen Doyle, Christina Buttenham, Alexa Kastanek and Chase Coley came in off the bench. Amanda Ollinger got some time with the second unit.
Nobody had really emerged as that sixth woman yet entering Sunday. That changed, courtesy of Coley and Doyle.
Coley started all but two games last year and many pegged her as a shoo-in to start. Instead, head coach Lisa Bluder went with a one center, four guard look, and Gustafson is that center.
Coley seemed to finally get comfortable in her new role against Hampton. She racked up seven points and seven rebounds in her first eight minutes, and Bluder kept her on the floor with the first unit to close the first half. She finished with seven points and 10 boards — three of which were offensive.
“One thing coming in with that second group, I feel like my job out there is to make sure I keep the energy rolling,” Coley said. "From the first group in to the second group in. And I feel when one person gets energy, it just sparks it for the rest of the team, and that’s really my goal out on the court.”
In a one-minute, nine-second stretch in the third, Coley registered a block, four rebounds and three points. She’s the same height as Gustafson (6-foot-3), but she doesn’t boast the strength inside. Often that sixth-woman role is much more about jolting your teammates than anything else.
“Chase is one of our goofier players on the team, and I mean that in a loving way,” Bluder said. “Seriously, she just always really brings energy to our team. She’s the fun one.”
Doyle also flashed sixth-woman potential with her five assists and two turnovers in 18 minutes. She's clearly one of the fastest (if not the fastest) players on the court. And what started for Doyle as out-of-control pace has matured into contained aggressiveness — especially when leading the fastbreak.
She started with a coast-to-coast transition layup late in the first. Then she snared a defensive rebound and ran the floor with Disterhoft for a transition assist a midway through the second.
She also knocked down both shots she took, including a corner 3-pointer, and she finished with one steal and a team-high two blocks.
Bluder runs a very specific shooting drill during practice …
You shoot from 3-point spots around the perimeter. The goal is to progress all the way around the arc, basket by basket. A swish gets you two points, any other make gets you one point and a miss loses you two points. As long as your score is positive, you can move to the next shot. But if you’re negative, you’ve got to make baskets until you jump above zero.
And in practice, Bluder’s players are pretty dang good at it.
Not in games, though.
Iowa finished Sunday 4 of 13 from long range, but only made one deep ball until Kastanek and Doyle rattled off three in garbage time.
Bluder’s not worried about the low numbers, though.
“We really haven’t shown that we’re a good 3-point shooting team yet, but we are,” she said. “I see it in practice. I have tremendous belief in our 3-point shooters, so I know they’re going to come through.”
On the other side of the ball, Hampton rocked Iowa from long range in the first half. It drained 6 of 12 from beyond the arc, good for more than half of their 32 points.
Bluder made some halftime adjustments and her players responded. Hampton took 12 more 3-pointers in the second half, but made just one. It shot 29 percent from long range in the game and 24 percent overall.
“Obviously, we’re going to face better 3-point shooting teams as the year goes on, and so I was kind of concerned with that in the first half,” Bluder said. “That was a point we really needed to improve on, and I think we did improve on it. How much of it was us, how much of it was them? Again, film kind of tells us on that. So we’ll go back and check that out.”
Iowa held Oral Roberts to 28 percent from 3-point land last Friday. With guards as quick and long as the Hawkeyes have, 3-point defense definitely shouldn’t be a weak point.
Bain covers Hawkeyes basketball for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.