By JORDAN ZUNIGA
This past women’s basketball season, Hawkeye fans got to see the full potential of 6-3 forward Megan Gustafson.
She averaged a double-double and led the team in points (18.5), rebounds (10.1), and blocks (1.3) while starting all 34 games.
She was also able to follow her All-Big Ten Freshman Team honor by being named to the first team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media last season.
But even with all the individual accomplishments, she was more excited about the team’s progress last season.
“For me, it’s more about the team than anything,” Gustafson said. “I’m just really proud of how our younger kids have developed. And just to be able to see them now, developing even more and being able to see them come into more of a leadership role. I try to help [the team] as much as I can, and if the individual accomplishments happen, I guess they do.”
Last season, the Hawkeyes made it to the Sweet 16 in the NIT; this year, the Hawkeyes hope to build on that postseason success; four of the five starters return.
In order for the team to take the next step and qualify for the NCAA Tournament, Gustafson knows she is going to have to be even better than she was last season.
Since the season ended, she has worked tirelessly to push the team to reach that goal.
“I’ve been working on footwork,” Gustafson said. “That’s really important, especially when we’re coming across the lane to get to the other side.”
Gustafson has focused in on her footwork to help with her high-low game, something that figures to be a staple in the Hawkeyes’ new offense this season.
“We’re thinking about doing two post players at once inside,” Gustafson said about the offense. “That’s able to keep me down on the block, but then bring me out at the same time as well as getting high-low action, which is what we’re really good at.”
The new offense will showcase Gustafson’s tremendous inside game, which will be a huge step in the Hawkeyes’ quest for an NCAA Tournament bid.
In a normal summer, she would have been able to get some competitive action in the Game Time League in North Liberty.
However, because of the lack of players, Game Time was canceled. For the Port Wing, Wisconsin, native, the absence of Game Time was defiantly something she missed.
“That was disappointing,” Gustafson said. “It’s great to see the fans come out and support us there.”
So she and the Hawkeyes have found ways to stay competitive this summer, including playing an extra scrimmage game every week.
“Normally, we’d have three scrimmages per week,” Gustafson said. “But now, we have four scrimmages per week. So we’re obviously trying to stay competitive. We’re playing better basketball against each other right now.”
Basketball season may be a few months away, but there is no question that Gustafson is ready for another breakout season come November.