Commentary: Cafone's greatness overlooked

BY DANNY PAYNE | MAY 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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I was the only one on our DI print sports staff to go with Natalie Cafone over Sam Logic for Female Athlete of the Year. That’s a bit crazy. I’m not saying Cafone should’ve won, but on no planet should not have been a loner — Cafone’s season merited her more than a one vote.

The Iowa women’s basketball and field hockey teams both made appearances in their respective Big Ten Tournament title games after somewhat surprising runs through the tourneys. Both Cafone and Logic were large parts of each streak.

Cafone was clutch as can be in the conference tourney, assisting on the only goal in Iowa’s 1-0 win over Michigan, a team it lost to in the regular season. The sophomore hit the back of the net twice in the Hawkeyes’ semifinal win over Penn State, including an overtime winner to beat yet another team Iowa lost to earlier in the season. Cafone then scored one more goal in the championship game before Iowa blew a 2-goal halftime lead to Michigan State.

Logic averaged 8 points and assists to go along with 6 1/2 boards in the four games Iowa played in the Big Ten Tournament. Head coach Lisa Bluder’s squad was 2-2 in the regular season against teams it played in the tourney. Both teams wouldn’t have finished where they did if it weren’t for these two, but Cafone played her best hockey of the season on the biggest stage Iowa competed in. Logic was good but didn’t take it to another level like Cafone.

Moving along to honors and awards — these alone shouldn’t have warranted a severe case of “everybody look at Danny funny when we vote on these awards.” Logic took home All-American honorable mentions from the AP and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association in addition to an All-Region honor and numerous Big Ten Player of the Week awards. All of that on top of first team All-Big Ten and Big Ten All-Tournament team. She also became Iowa’s all-time assist leader.

Impressive? Not a doubt. But don’t overlook the challenger.

Cafone led the nation in points per game with 2.48, was named a National Field Hockey Coaches’ Association second-team-All American, was named All-Region, and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 24, 2013. Just like Logic, she was named first-team All-conference and made the All-Big Ten Tournament team. And for what it’s worth, Iowa named Cafone its Female Athlete of the Year.

That’s a lot of hardware for both women, not just one.

Yes, the stage for women’s basketball is larger than it is for field hockey. Yes, the Iowa women’s basketball team made the NCAA Tournament and field hockey did not. Those are two factors that are important and that should be taken into account when deciding which athlete should have won this award.

Logic took her team further than Cafone took hers, and that might be the biggest indicator of success. But again, on no planet does someone who had the season she did deserve only one stinkin’ vote.

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