Iowa opened WNIT play against Missouri State in 2017.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — It hadn’t really hit Kathleen Doyle yet.
She knew she’d try out for Team USA back in mid-April, when Iowa's Lisa Bluder told her she’d been invited to the FIBA World Cup U19 team trials May 18-21. She knew she’d try out for Team USA when she hopped on a plane to Colorado Springs, Colo., the home of USA Basketball.
She knew she’d try out for Team USA when she pulled up to the Olympic Training Center and she saw the iconic Olympic rings.
Then she put on a Team USA jersey.
And it hit her.
"Just wearing USA across your chest. Even though it was a practice jersey, it was unbelievable," Doyle told HawkCentral after arriving back home in LaGrange, Ill., early this week. "During orientation, I got the chills when the director of the program was like, 'You guys are all here for a reason. You guys are the best at what you do in your age group across the country.'"
This was Doyle’s introduction to Team USA, which deemed her one of the country's 32 best basketball players aged 19 or younger. She didn’t make the 12-person roster. Ten players with previous Team USA experience did, including five who competed on 2016's gold-medal U18 team.
Doyle said coaches didn’t give much individual feedback during the trials. But once you’re on Team USA’s radar, you usually stay there. That bodes well for Doyle's chances to make the U20 trials.
"I’m really proud of the way I played," Doyle said. "I think I consistently brought energy and leadership to the teams I was on. It’s really cool to know that you can play with anybody your age in the country.
"(Coaches) did tell me that they really appreciated my effort and leadership and energy, and I really take great pride in that. So that was cool to hear."
Doyle landed in Colorado Springs last Thursday. There was a three-on-three tournament that night. On Friday and Saturday, they ran two sessions per day — some drills, but mostly scrimmaging, Doyle said. There were more scrimmages on Sunday morning before coaches announced the 12-person roster.
"I was so anxious to go play," Doyle said. "I had the hardest time sleeping this whole weekend. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep because I just needed to get out on that court. It was less stressful once I had a ball in my hand. It was amazing. I don’t know how to describe it. I was honestly speechless.
"It definitely showed me areas of my game that I can improve. There’s always areas to improve. But I think just, honestly, my confidence level has been raised a lot just because I know that I can play against anybody in the country and do well. So I’m hoping I can bring that confidence back to Iowa and raise everybody else’s confidence, too, because I know that we can be an awesome team."
Doyle played all 34 games last season and started 29. She averaged 9.2 points and 2.6 rebounds and led the team with 4.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game. She finished with the most steals per game and the best free throw percentage (70.1) among Big Ten freshmen. And she broke Iowa freshman records for assists (148) and steals (71).
She’s eager to bring what she learned in Colorado back to Iowa City.
"I’m looking forward to getting to the NCAA Tournament this year," she said.
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.