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Iowa women's basketball: Monika Czinano named preseason all-Big Ten selection

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder stopped short of calling this Monika Czinano’s team at Monday’s media day. But it’s still abundantly clear how important the junior center is to the Hawkeyes.

Czinano was named a preseason all-Big Ten selection Wednesday by both the coaches and media. She was the only Iowa player on either list, further accentuating her veteran prescence amid a fledgling group of Hawkeyes.

Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle, left, and Iowa center Monika Czinano (25) celebrate after a NCAA Big Ten Conference women's basketball game against Nebraska, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

The 6-foot-3 Czinano averaged 16 points and five rebounds per game as a sophomore. She led the Big Ten and ranked second nationally in shooting percentage at 67.9% (201-for-296). Czinano also scored in double figures 25 times with 10 20-point games.

“I think she's doing a great job leading,” Bluder said Monday.  “… As a sophomore, we needed her to work on so many other things and concentrate on so many other things that I didn't want that to be on her plate, as well. But she is a leader just because that's the type of person she is.

“I don't want to say this is her team. I don't think anybody ever feels that way with our basketball teams. We try to be really balanced. But certainly having a great inside attack like Monika opens up things for our three-point shooting. We still want to play the same style. We want to get up and down and run, and she does a great job with that in the inside position, but also we want to pass the ball really well. She's a wonderful target to pass the ball to. She's got great hands.”

Iowa didn’t appear in the Big Ten’s preseason poll, which features only the top five teams as voted on by the coaches and media. Both entities selected the same five teams — Indiana, Northwestern, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio State — but in different orders.

The media’s top five went No. 1 Indiana, No. 2 Northwestern, No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Ohio State. The coaches’ top five went No. 1 Indiana, No. 2 Maryland, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Northwestern and No. 5 Ohio State.  

The women’s basketball season opens Nov. 25. Iowa will likely have five nonconference games between a 20-game Big Ten slate.

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.