116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Central Michigan already has a win under its belt this week in San Antonio.
The Chippewas smoked their scout team, 18-2, in practice Thursday.
'Unfortunately, Iowa is a lot better than our scout team,” CMU Coach Heather Oesterle said.
The Hawkeyes (18-9) face Central Michigan (18-8) in a first-round game of the NCAA women's basketball tournament Sunday. Tipoff is 11 a.m. at the Alamodome in San Antonio (ESPN).
CMU won't be star-struck. The Chippewas are in the tournament for the third consecutive year in which a tournament has been held. They reached the Sweet 16 in 2018, beating LSU and Ohio State along the way.
And they have played two Big Ten opponents this season, dropping road games against Michigan (93-75) and Michigan State (79-70). The Hawkeyes whipped the Wolverines 89-67 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and split a pair of games with the Spartans.
The Chippewas have seen Michigan's Naz Hillmon, who earned second-team All-American honors by the Associated Press. Sunday, they'll become acquainted with Iowa's Caitlin Clark, who earned the same status.
'Definitely one of the top three players we'll see all season,” Oesterle said of Clark in a virtual press conference Friday. 'She's very, very talented. In transition, she has the ability to get by people. In half-court, she can knock down 3-pointers. We've got to knock her off that 3-point line and keep the ball out of her hands as much as we can.”
Senior Micaela Kelly said, 'Iowa is a good team. We respect them. They have two players who can score. We can't stop them, but we can try to slow them down.”
Oesterle and Kelly know Clark by name, Monika Czinano by number.
'Most of Clark's assists go to 25 inside,” Oesterle said. 'We did the math, and (Czinano) averaged 27 points and shot 77 percent from the field in the Big Ten tournament. That's incredible.”
Eight healthy CMU players made the trip from Mount Pleasant, Mich., to Texas. Seven of them have played in the NCAA tournament. Iowa has five players with NCAA experience, and only two - Czinano and Alexis Sevillian - have seen extended minutes.
Not counting that rout of the scout team, Central Michigan takes a five-game win streak into the tournament, the last three in the Mid-American Conference tournament. The Chippewas' 77-72 victory over MAC regular-season champion Bowling Green in the championship game gave them the automatic NCAA bid.
'After we won the MAC tournament, I was so excited for our seniors,” Oesterle said. 'I wanted it so bad for them.”
Central Michigan features two players who average more than 20 points per game - Kelly and sophomore Molly Davis.
Oesterle has an ace beside her on the bench in assistant Gail Goestenkors, whose resume includes four trips to the Final Four when she was the head coach at Duke.
'She's really good for me,” Oesterle said. 'Before the MAC tournament, she came in my office and said, ‘Where is your head? What are you thinking?' I love everything she tells me. I soak it all up.
'(Goestenkors) had the first scout on Iowa, and I totally trust her.”
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