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Iowa women’s basketball center Johnson fights through double teams

BY BEN ROSS | DECEMBER 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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Morgan Johnson said she’s accustomed to opposing teams using two defenders on her. At 6-5, she expects double-teams whenever she steps on the court.

“It’s awesome, because that means you’ve earned respect if you’re getting double teamed,” she said. “To be able to be double-teamed is an honor, and to have that trust and faith in my guards to make the shots and cut to the basket and be open and make shots.”

For much of the Dec. 1 contest against Northern Iowa, Johnson found two Panthers blanketing her throughout the game, trying to limit the second team All-Big Ten center’s production.

It didn’t work.

Johnson finished the game with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. Iowa’s 68-46 victory saw Johnson’s 15th career double-double, and her 5 assists were a career high.

After the game, Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said she anticipated the Panthers using a double team on Johnson as part of their game strategy. She was the tallest player on the court, after all.

“We thought that would be a strategy they would use,” Bluder said. “We had one practice and one shoot-around to get ready for this game. We didn’t get to do it a whole lot, working against the double team. Certainly, we put it in their minds that it may occur. Morgan had 5 assists tonight. I think she’s more excited about that than her double-double.”

Bluder said when teams do decide to commit extra players to defend Johnson, it usually doesn’t work.

“She’s such a good target, and she has such beautiful hands that the players have a lot of confidence passing her the ball,” the coach said. “People try double-teaming her. They try hanging around. They set screens for it, and it doesn’t matter.”

Johnson said she could be successful when double-teamed because Iowa has so much talent at guard. The statement’s proof could be seen in guard Sam Logic’s performance.

Logic was second on the team with 15 points, 4 of which came off assists from Johnson. She showed she’s one of the reliable players Johnson talked about, shooting 77 percent from the field and making her one attempted free throw.

Logic said seeing Johnson being double-teamed creates confidence for her, and other teams still have worries if they decide to dedicate two players to cover one.

“I think Morgan had good [passing] on cuts,” Logic said. “The help has to be there. We have great shooters on this team. It really keeps defenses on their toes. You never know what you’re going to get.”


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