116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — So many familiar faces. So many household names.
Ashley Joens and Caitlin Clark. Emily Ryan and Monika Czinano. Lexi Donarski and McKenna Warnock.
Bill Fennelly and Lisa Bluder.
But much of Monday’s press-conference chatter revolved around a Cy-Hawk newbie.
“She is a huge difference-maker (for Iowa State),” said Bluder, Iowa women’s basketball coach. “She’s 6-foot-6 and she rebounds very well. She changes that team a little bit for the better.”
A native of Brazil and the former NAIA national player of the year, Soares will be a key piece when No. 10 Iowa State (6-1) visits No. 16 Iowa (6-3) in the most eagerly awaited edition of the rivalry.
Tipoff is 6 p.m. Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (ESPN2). As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, more than 12,700 tickets had been sold.
“It deserves to be a sellout,” Bluder said. “It really does.”
Iowa State won last year’s encounter 77-70 in Ames, ending a five-year Iowa winning streak. Both teams entered this season with sky-high expectations, both locally and nationally.
Much of the reason for that was the decisions by two All-Americans — Iowa’s Czinano and Iowa State’s Joens — to take advantage of their COVID-related option to play for a fifth year.
“I wasn’t thrilled when I heard (Joens) was coming back,” Bluder said. “I’m sure they felt the same way about Monika coming back.”
The nation’s leader in field-goal percentage the last two seasons, Czinano has dealt with a clogged-up lane from opposing defenses through most of the Hawkeyes’ first nine games.
She anticipates a serious challenge from Soares in the paint.
“She’s got great range,” Czinano said. “She can drive.”
Wednesday’s atmosphere will be a far cry from the last Carver meeting in 2020, a nearly empty house due to COVID restrictions. In that game, Clark piloted a stunning rally that led to an 82-80 Iowa victory.
Clark is the Big Ten’s all-time leader — women and men — in triple doubles, with seven. Her most recent came Sunday, at Wisconsin.
A junior from West Des Moines, Clark chose the Hawkeyes over Iowa State, along with Notre Dame.
Joens, on the other hand, is an Iowa City native that wasn’t offered by Iowa, and headed to Ames.
“She’s an All-American, really gifted,” Bluder said. “She still draws a lot of fouls. She’s an all-around great player.”
Former Cyclone Kylie Feuerbach is in her second season with the Hawkeyes, but is out this year with a knee injury.
Bluder was asked if Feuerbach will have any role in scouting the Cyclones, decoding plays, etc.
“I have never asked Kylie one thing about Iowa State. Maybe that’s being dumb,” she responded. “I’ve never asked a kid to give up secrets that maybe she doesn’t want to give up.”