By Michael McCurdy
On Sunday, the Iowa women’s basketball team suffered a heart-wrenching defeat on the road against a stellar Michigan squad in a game in which it was outscored 20-9 in the fourth quarter. Late in the fourth quarter of that game, Iowa starting point guard Tania Davis went down with a knee injury that only escalated the difficulty of winning.
After getting back to Iowa City, the Hawkeyes received another jab to the gut when doctors reported that Davis had torn her ACL. Davis, who missed some of her freshman year with a shoulder injury, won’t see action again until her junior year.
What a year for Davis
Coming into her sophomore year, Davis was hopeful to put her past shoulder injury aside and improve her
game by being consistent with her shot and bettering her decision skills to ultimately increase her freshman assist total of 111 in 33 games.
Only playing in 23 games so far this season, Davis was not able to surpass her previous total, but she was well on pace to do so if it had not have been for the injury. She improved drastically from last season in her court awareness and ability to run the offense.
In 23 games, Davis was 72-of-82 on free throws, an impressive 87 percent that no other Hawkeye surpassed.
Last season, she shot 22 percent from the 3-point line, so coming into this season, she pledged to become more consistent behind the arc. She increased her percentage to 33 percent, making her the team’s second-best shooter, behind senior Ally Disterhoft.
After one of her best performances this season in a home contest on Jan. 22 against Minnesota, things were beginning to consistently click on all cylinders for Davis.
“I definitely feel like I’ve got my mojo back,” Davis said. “My great teammates, coaching staff, and everyone on the bench has the utmost confidence in me. So I just don’t want to let them down.”
Which is why her injury is even more frustrating for the Hawkeyes, because during this great run of games, Davis has been playing her best basketball. Where to now?
Iowa still has an NCAA Tournament bid to fight for with six games left on the schedule. Davis’ injury and the crushing defeat on the road against Michigan put the Hawkeyes in a tough spot at the moment.
With a young roster, Iowa must work to not flush this season away and instead come out inspired to make a run to the Big Dance.
As the team leader, Disterhoft must instill a strong mentality in the team that its goal is still achievable, the next man’s just going to have to step up.
Lately, the Iowa bench has done its job in giving the starters rest and contributing in the game by rebounding and playing defense.
But now that mentality is gone, and if the Hawkeyes want to end the season on a high note, the bench must start affecting the game offensively in the absence of Davis’s 10.9 points per game.
When injuries to star players happen, it seems to have one of two effects — the team either folds without the contributions of the player, or rallies around the adversity and plays inspired basketball.
Davis is the type of player to demand that style of inspired basketball from her teammates, but only time will tell.