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Commentary: Hawkeyes finally earn ranking after defeating Michigan

BY CARLOS SOSA | JANUARY 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s basketball team has played well all season long, and people have begun to take notice.

The Hawkeyes came in at No. 24 in the latest AP rankings after winning their sixth game against a ranked opponent. Iowa defeated then-No. 23 Michigan on Sunday, 63-57, to improve their record to 6-0 against opponents ranked in the top 25.

This is the first time Iowa has been ranked since Feb. 28, 2011. The Hawkeyes are also one of five teams — Baylor, Stanford, Connecticut, and Tennessee — to have at least six wins over ranked opponents.

So far this season, the Hawkeyes have compiled a 16-5 record, 5-2 in conference play. In addition to their perfect record against the top 25, they have a quality win over mid-major Middle Tennessee.

Iowa has shown that it can be considered among the best teams in the Big Ten and has proven itself against some of the nation’s best.

So why hasn’t the attention come sooner?

Well, this basketball season has been ultra-competitive. Only one other team in the current rankings — Texas A&M — has more than four losses. There are 10 teams with fewer than two losses, which has made it difficult for Iowa to receive votes up until this point.

No. 16 Texas A&M is the only other five-loss team ranked. The Aggies’ record (16-5, 6-1 SEC) is impressive given the difficulty of their schedule. Out of the seven ranked teams that Aggies have played, five were in the top 10.

A&M also benefits from having only one SEC conference loss — a 3-point loss on Jan. 10 to current-No. 8 Kentucky. Iowa has Big Ten losses to Michigan and Michigan State.

The Hawks have a formidable résumé but have missed being ranked up until this point because of one inconsistent week at the beginning of its season.

A Nov. 18 loss to North Carolina can be excused, given that the Tar Heels are ranked No. 11, but a 1-point loss to Florida International can’t be.

Iowa managed to bounce back the next week against then-No. 12 West Virginia but was subsequently blown out on Nov. 28 by a Florida State team that is now ranked No. 20.

After going 5-3 in the opening month of the season, the Hawkeyes have played efficient basketball. Since Nov. 28, Iowa has gone 11-2 and has beaten four ranked teams along the way.

The Hawkeyes have been able to do this because of their team-oriented play on the court.
Iowa’s point guard Sam Logic is the Big Ten’s assist leader and is one of the nation’s best in that category. Her ability to spread the ball comes from having teammates who are able to finish.

Senior guard Jaime Printy has been the unsung hero for Iowa thus far. She’s averaging 14 points per game and is shooting an outstanding 93 percent from the foul line.

The nation knows about Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Connecticut’s Stefanie Dolson, and A&M’s Kelsey Bone, but people aren’t familiar with Morgan Johnson.

Johnson is the stabilizing force in the middle for Iowa. She averages 15 points per contest and grabs 7 rebounds per game. Overall, the Hawkeyes have a solid team that can beat opponents in many ways.

The Hawks have won three Big Ten games in a row, and they will try to improve their record on Thursday against Illinois. If Iowa can continue its hot streak, it will be a tough team to go up against come March.


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