IOWA CITY — The campaign is on.
Feeling they have a candidate for all-American and Big Ten player of the year (and why wouldn’t they?), the University of Iowa marketing and sports information folks have racheted up support for Megan Gustafson.
On Twitter, it’s #VoteGustafson.
“I’m grateful to (women’s basketball SID) Brandee (Britt) in starting this,” Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder said. “This is so important. We have one of the best players in America, and if we don’t promote her, we’re doing her a disservice.
“Everybody around her knows who she is. People around the Big Ten know who she is. We need the rest of the country to know about her.”
Predictably, Gustafson is sheepish about the attention.
“It’s not the primary focus, that’s for sure,” she said. “It’s kind of neat, but I don’t want it to take away from what the team has done.”
That kind of response, Bluder said, is what makes Gustafson so endearing.
“I never get tired of talking about Megan,” she said. “Sometimes I gush over her like she’s my own child. If you knew her like we know her, you’d understand. We just love this kid. She gets embarrassed about talking about her accolades.”
In an effort to keep it brief, Gustafson is an eight-time Big Ten player of the week this season. Her numbers — 24.8 points and 12.8 rebounds per game, 66.2-percent field-goal shooting — “are video-game-like,” according to teammate Makenzie Meyer.
“I can’t say enough about her. She’s amazing.”
The Hawkeyes (20-6 overall, 8-5 Big Ten) take a four-game winning streak into Sunday’s game against Wisconsin (9-18, 2-12). Tipoff is 2 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
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Iowa defeated the Badgers, 56-46, at Madison in its Big Ten opener Dec. 28. That was a day after Meyer broke a bone in her left hand. The Hawkeyes were 3-3 in her absence, 5-2 since her return.
Sunday’s game is Iowa’s first in a week. It’s also the second-to-last at home for Chase Coley and (probably) Carly Mohns.
“It’s bittersweet,” Coley said. “It’s cool we’re probably going to make it to the NCAA (tournament), but I don’t want to be done yet.”
Coley has sported a blonde hair-dye color most of the season. Thursday, it was something else.
“Gray,” she said. “Coach Bluder thinks I look like an old lady.”
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