IOWA CITY — Before she became the women’s basketball coach at the University of Minnesota, Lindsay Whalen played in the WNBA for more than a decade and was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, so she has considerable clout.
That’s why her postgame words to Kathleen Doyle meant so much to the Hawkeyes’ senior guard.
“It was really cool,” Doyle said after 18th-ranked Iowa defeated Minnesota, 90-82, Thursday night. “She told me I was a good player, and that she thinks I’m a pro.”
And Doyle certainly has potential for post-collegiate basketball.
“It’s something that intrigues Kathleen,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “She loves the game. She wants to keep playing, and it was really nice for Lindsay to say that. It means a lot coming from her.”
For now, though, Doyle is one of the frontrunners for Big Ten player-of-the-year honors, along with Arella Guirantes of Rutgers and Kaila Charles of Maryland. Doyle and Guirantes will go head-to-head when the Hawkeyes (23-5, 14-3) face Rutgers (20-8, 10-7) in their Big Ten finale Sunday.
Tipoff is 11 a.m. central at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.
Barring a huge upset or two, Iowa is locked into third place. The Hawkeyes can move up if they win Sunday and Maryland and/or Northwestern lose.
Rutgers will be the 5, 6 or 7 seed. If the Scarlet Knights are a 6 and Iowa is a 3, they would collide in a Big Ten tournament quarterfinal next Friday in Indianapolis, provided Rutgers beats Minnesota (11 seed) or Penn State (14) in the second round Thursday.
Iowa is 7-0 against Rutgers since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten.
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“We’ve won some close ones against them,” Bluder said. “This is one of Rutgers’ strongest teams.”
The Scarlet Knights are coached by C. Vivian Stringer, who led the Hawkeyes from 1983 through 1995. They are traditionally one of the most physical teams in the Big Ten, and according to Bluder, “This time of season, it seems like the officiating lets up, and I hate that.”
That probably means more wear on Doyle, who absorbed 14 fouls against Minnesota.
“When Kathleen gets going downhill, she’d hard to defend,” Bluder said. “She’s hard to guard.”
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