IOWA CITY — A barefoot Monika Czinano walked into the Carver-Hawkeye Arena press room Wednesday, so it was only natural to check out her ankles.
No more bruises. No more puffiness.
“I’m so fortunate,” she said. “If I hadn’t played for three days, it felt more like three years.”
Czinano, who missed a full game (Penn State) and a partial game (Michigan) after spraining her right ankle Jan. 27, is edging toward recovery.
“Every day, it’s better,” the sophomore post said. “It was really bruised (after suffering the sprain in the Michigan State game). But the training staff has done everything possible to help bring me back.”
As she spoke, Czinano was holding a pair of ankle braces, which she said she has worn regularly since suffering an ankle sprain in eighth grade.
“I can’t imagine how bad it would have been without (the brace),” she said.
No. 20 Iowa (18-4, 9-2 Big Ten) certainly could use an effective Czinano when it hosts Nebraska (15-7, 5-6) Thursday.
Tipoff is 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“If she’s almost at full capacity, we’ll start her,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said.
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Iowa’s nine-game winning streak ended Sunday at Michigan. The Hawkeyes are in a three-way tie for the Big Ten lead with Northwestern and Maryland with seven games to play.
There’s a standings board in the Hawkeyes’ locker room. But Bluder said it’s too early to start the late-season habit of scoreboard watching.
“I’m not doing that yet,” she said. “But I’m not saying some of the players aren’t.”
Maybe the Hawkeyes were due for a clunker. They had been living somewhat of a charmed life recently, rallying from double-digit deficits on several occasions.
“After a loss, we have to regroup,” senior guard Kathleen Doyle said. “We have to be ready to go. We didn’t go a good job of that (at Michigan).
Nebraska kicked off the Big Ten season with a 78-69 victory over the Hawkeyes in Lincoln.
“They were really solid defensively, and we weren’t,” Doyle said. “But that was a long time ago. This is perfect time for us to bounce back, and also get some revenge.”
The Hawkeyes have won 32 consecutive home games. The last loss? Jan. 28, 2018 — against Nebraska.
“We need to understand, there’s no magic in these walls,” Bluder said.
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