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Czinano-vs.-Lee showdown is off, but K-State presents new challenges for Iowa women’s basketball
No. 4 Iowa will face ‘press-the-whole-time’ Wildcats on Thursday at Manhattan
IOWA CITY — When this game was scheduled last summer, it figured to match two of the nation’s best centers in women’s college basketball.
Iowa at Kansas State: Monika Czinano vs. Ayoka Lee.
“We were really looking forward to this test for Monika,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “I really wanted them to go head-to-head.”
But Lee, a 6-foot-6 second-team all-American whose 61-point outburst against Oklahoma last season broke an NCAA Division-I record, underwent knee surgery in August and will miss the season.
With her, K-State probably would have been a preseason top-15 team. Now, Bluder said, the Wildcats are a different team that presents a different set of challenges.
“They’re that kind of team that gives us trouble,” she said. “They’ll play five guards, and they’re going to press the whole time.”
Tipoff is 8 p.m. Thursday at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.
For the Wildcats (2-0), a lot of that havoc comes from the Glenn sisters, Jaelyn and Brylee, a pair of 6-foot sophomores who have combined for 14 steals in two games.
No. 4 Iowa (3-0) is facing its second consecutive road challenge. The Hawkeyes escaped Sunday with a 92-86 overtime victory at Drake.
On one hand ...
“We forced a lot of turnovers, and we didn’t have a lot,” Bluder said.
On the other ...
“Looking at film, there were a lot of things we didn’t do well. I attribute some of that to Drake. But we took some bad shots, and we didn’t execute the offense.
“Free throws ... I know that can rebound in the matter of a game or two. But it gets to you mentally.”
The nation’s leading free-throw team in 2021-22, the Hawkeyes are 204th right now (54 of 81, 66.7 percent).
Czinano was named Big Ten player of the week Monday after her 36-point performance at Drake. The fifth-year senior is shooting 69.2 percent from the field and averages 23.0 points per game.
Caitlin Clark leads the Hawkeyes at 24.7 points per contest.
Bluder confirmed that recruit Ava Jones, who hails from Nickerson, Kan., will spend much of Thursday with the Hawkeyes between shoot-around and pregame, and will attend the game.
Jones was seriously injured in an August car-pedestrian incident in Louisville, Ky., and is undergoing rehabilitation.