Iowa Women's Basketball

At halftime, Iowa women's basketball players talk, then listen

Upperclassmen take the reins in the locker room before the coaches arrive

Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle (22) is one of the most likely Hawkeyes to speak up at halftime, according to teammate Megan Gustafson. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle (22) is one of the most likely Hawkeyes to speak up at halftime, according to teammate Megan Gustafson. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Before the coaches enter at halftime, the Iowa women’s basketball team has the locker room to itself.

It usually isn’t quiet.

“Everybody pitches in,” Kathleen Doyle said. “We get in the locker room, and the conversation rolls from there. It’s typical of the upperclassmen, the captains to speak up.”

Monday night in Minneapolis, it was Tania Davis.

“I tried to instill confidence — be strong with the ball, be smart, be patient,” Davis said after the game.

The Hawkeyes came out and stung Minnesota in the second half for an 81-63 victory.

When the Hawkeyes leave the floor at halftime, they retreat to the locker room. The coaches stay outside the door and discuss adjustments before entering.

“We’ve got time to come in and figure out where everybody’s heads are,” Megan Gustafson said. “The leaders speak up, try to figure out what’s going on, and corral everyone in.”

Doyle is generally one of the most vocal.

“Kathleen has that energy, that confidence to speak up,” Gustafson said. “She takes that confidence and installs it in all of us.

“In past years, I was pretty quiet and didn’t say much, but I know my teammates are depending on me.”

When the door opens, silence takes over for a moment.

“It’s time for us to talk, and them to listen,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said.

The 18th-ranked Hawkeyes (12-4 overall, 3-2 Big Ten) host Michigan (11-6, 2-3) in a Big Ten contest Thursday. Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

It’s a matchup of “two of the best posts in America going against each other, two future WNBA draft picks,” Bluder said.

That would be the 6-foot-3 Gustafson (26.4 points, 12.9 rebounds per game) against Michigan’s 6-5 Hallie Thome (13.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg).

“She’s a really good presence,” Gustafson said. “I’ve played against her for four years, and I know her game very well. It will be a tough matchup. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’ll be ready for it.”

The Hawkeyes overcame a horrid second quarter at Minnesota, outscoring the Gophers 49-23 after halftime.

If they can extend that kind of effort for 40 minutes ...

“I’ve been waiting for that to happen,” Bluder said. “I understand how good this team can be. I know it’s out there. We just have to go out and take it.”

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

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