Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa wasn't Kathleen Doyle's original choice. But it became her destiny.

Senior guard leads the league in scoring and assists, and is part of Big Ten POY discussion

Iowa's Kathleen Doyle (22) looks downcourt at her teammates in the Hawkeyes' win over Maryland on Jan. 9 at Carver-Hawke
Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle (22) looks downcourt at her teammates in the Hawkeyes’ win over Maryland on Jan. 9 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Doyle leads the Big Ten in scoring and assists. That, and the fact that the Hawkeyes are at the front of the pack, makes her a league player-of-the-year contender as the conference slate approaches the midpoint. Iowa hosts Ohio State on Thursday. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — It’s merely a distant memory now. A sidebar on a remarkable career.

This wasn’t Kathleen Doyle’s first choice.

“I love my decision now,” said Iowa’s senior dynamo of a point guard. “It seems like so long ago.”

Almost four years now.

Doyle originally committed to the women’s basketball program at the University of Nebraska. But when Connie Yori resigned as head coach in the spring of 2016, Doyle had to explore her options, and fast.

Nebraska was her first choice. Iowa was her destiny.

“I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason,” said Doyle, who committed to the Hawkeyes shortly after Yori stepped down. “I believe I’m where I’m supposed to be, playing for one of the best coaching staffs in the nation.”

Now in her senior season, Doyle has entered Big Ten player-of-the-year discussion. In conference games, she leads the league in points per game (22.4) and assists per game (5.7).

“I don’t know if she’s the Big Ten player of the year, but I can certainly say what she has done for our team this year,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “She’s putting us on her back. She is willing us to victories.

“I will go to battle with that kid any day, because I know she is going to give everything she has.”

Tied for first place and the owner of a 30-game home winning streak, 19th-ranked Iowa (15-3 overall, 6-1 Big Ten) hosts Ohio State (11-7, 4-3), 7 p.m. Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Doyle has been a captain for the Hawkeyes since her sophomore season. She has moved into the top 20 all-time at Iowa in scoring (1,321 points), is No. 2 in assists (628) and No. 7 in steals (207).

Her value, though, is intangible.

“What I love most about Kathleen is her competitiveness, her passion for the game,” said Makenzie Meyer, Doyle’s backcourt mate for the past four seasons.

“She does a great job motivating the rest of the team, whether it’s freaking out after a bad call or whatever. But she knows how to turn it on and off. She knows when to lift up her teammates.”

Doyle’s response to the player-of-the-year narrative?

“Wow,” she said. “I’ve never thought about that. It sounds so cheesy, but I don’t think about things like that, and I really don’t care. I feel like the team is playing well, and that’s what matters most.

“I feel like I’m playing well. but all I try to do is help (teammates) get better.”

The Hawkeyes have rallied from deficits of 14, 15 and 17 points to win each of the last three games.

“That’s the seniors,” Bluder said. “That’s Kathleen. Seniors make plays at the end of games.”

Based on results, Iowa looks like a solid favorite to win its seventh straight game. Forget that, Bluder said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“Don’t be deceived by (Ohio State’s) record,” she said. “They’ve played Connecticut, Stanford and Louisville, and they’re the only team that has beaten Louisville. They have eight new players, and they’re getting better every time out.”

Ohio State’s roster consists of seven freshmen, three sophomores, a junior and a senior. Dorka Juhasz, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Hungary, leads the Buckeyes at 12.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.