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Editor’s note: This is 45th in a series counting down the Top 50 moments in Iowa Hawkeyes women’s athletics history in the 50 days leading up to the 50th anniversary of Title IX in June.
Iowa women’s basketball made plenty of history in spring 2019.
Its star player Megan Gustafson became the first Hawkeye to be named ESPNW National Player of the Year days before Iowa broke the NCAA tournament attendance record.
Then she became the first Hawkeye to be named Associated Press National Player of the Year.
Finally, Gustafson and her coach, Lisa Bluder, did something never done before at Iowa or anywhere in the Big Ten — sweep the Naismith National Player of the Year and Naismith National Coach of the Year awards.
After Gustafson led the country as a senior in scoring, field goal percentage and double-doubles in 2019, Bluder wasn’t exactly surprised to see her star player earn national player of the year recognition.
“I thought it was a no-brainer,” Bluder said. “She was the most dominant player in America.”
Adding the Naismith, Bluder said, might be “the granddaddy of them all.”
It was the first time a Big Ten player won the Naismith National Player of the Year award.
Nationally, only nine schools had pulled off the player-coach sweep before Gustafson and Bluder did in 2019.
Bluder first heard about Gustafson winning. Then when she was at special assistant to the head coach Jenni Fitzgerald’s parents’ Florida home, she got word of the Hawkeye sweep.
Iowa’s all-time winningest basketball coach has been quick to credit her staff, players and overall support at Iowa, but she does recognize the significance of having her name etched on that award.
“It meant a lot because some of it is voted on by your peers,” Bluder said. “I’d be lying to say it wasn’t a nice recognition, that you didn’t feel honored by it.”
Bluder, the first Iowa recipient of the award since C. Vivian Stringer in 1993, joined an elite group of coaches to have won the award — UConn’s Geno Auriemma, the late Pat Summitt and the now-retired Muffet McGraw, to name a few.
“You look at that trophy, and there’s a lot of great names on that trophy,” Bluder said. “And to be on there with those names, wow. That’s pretty cool.”
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