By Jordan Zuniga
Most of the basketball season has been all smiles for the Iowa women’s team — the Hawkeyes ran out of the gate to a 14-1 start.
Since then, it seems, the frigid weather has leaked into the gym and cooled down the once-scorching Hawkeyes; they have now dropped two of their last three.
The skid by no means derails the season, but there definitely is an alarm going off for Iowa, and the Hawkeyes hope to limit the losing to just a small hiccup.
One of the ways they hope to do that is get back to what made them so successful in the beginning of the season: spreading the ball around.
In the Hawkeyes’ last three games, and Megan Gustafson has scored 84 of the teams 218 points (38.5 percent).
More troubling is Iowa’s shooting percentage the last three games if you take out Gustafson’s shots. With Gustafson, Iowa has shot 45 percent from the floor. Factoring out Gustafson, they’ve shot a meager 36 percent.
“We need to get more people involved than Megan in our offense,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “It can’t just be a Megan show. To me it looked like we were waiting around and letting her do the work for us. We need more out of our 3 position.”
All this being said, it takes nothing away from how well Gustafson has played the past few games. She’s put up 30 in the past two games and nailed a career high of 37 in their last game, against Purdue.
She’s been duly rewarded for her play as well.
On Monday, she received her sixth Player of the Week award, which ties a Big Ten record, and there are still six weeks left. The four weeks she didn’t received Player of the Week, she was on the conference Honor Roll.
Now, Iowa turns its attention to its next opponent, Nebraska, which it will take on at 7 p.m. today in Lincoln.
Gustafson hopes her stellar play will be balanced by her teammates stepping up, as Bluder has urged the players to do. But the key for the double-double machine and her team is hopefulness.
“The most important thing for us is to stay optimistic,” Gustafson said. “Even though our defense wasn’t there [Jan. 13] doesn’t mean it can’t be there for the rest of the week and heading into these two road games.”
Defense has also been a problem for the Hawkeyes recently. In their last four games, the Hawkeyes have allowed at least 70 points in each, something they did only three times in their previous 14 games.
Senior Chase Coley believes the players just need to re-up their focus on the defensive end.
“Our mentality all season has been, next play, next play,” she said. “That’s what we tried to focus on [Jan. 13], but it seemed like our focus wasn’t always there on defense.”
The Hawkeyes’ need to regain focus for their next two games; both will come against tough road opponents. After its game in Nebraska, Iowa will travel to take on Minnesota on Jan. 21.