IOWA CITY — Maybe it was a request. Perhaps it was a plea.
Either way, one of Lisa Bluder’s messages back in October, at Iowa women’s basketball media day, was clear:
Don’t compare Monika Czinano to Megan Gustafson.
Of course, comparing a sophomore with no college starts to a finished-product, all-American would be unfair.
Instead, Bluder agreed Monday to this — a comparison to Czinano the sophomore to Gustafson the sophomore.
“I would say they are pretty comparable,” Bluder said. “They both came in here with not great physical strength, and not great balance.”
And for both, those shortcomings improved dramatically with time, and with lots of work.
“I told the team today, why Monika is having such a good year is that last year, she attacked every possession in practice,” Bluder said.
“Some people want to work hard and see the benefit right away. Monika knew she would have to wait because Megan was going to get most of the minutes.”
Delayed gratification is working just fine. Czinano is coming off a 16-point, 17-rebound gem in Iowa’s 78-69 loss at Nebraska on Saturday.
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Through 12 games, Czinano is averaging 15.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest. As a sophomore, Gustafson posted 18.5 and 10.1, respectively.
Czinano has an advantage so far in field-goal accuracy, 72.5 percent to 64.7.
The Hawkeyes (9-3 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) host Illinois (9-3, 0-1) Tuesday. Tipoff is 2 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where they have won 27 straight games.
Illinois opened Big Ten action with a 77-50 home loss to Northwestern.
“Their record is decent, but I don’t think they have played the competition we have,” Bluder said of the Illini.
Petra Holesinska is shooting 46 percent from 3-point range and leads Illinois at 15.1 points per game.
A senior from Iowa City High, Courtney Joens averages 15.2 minutes and 5.3 points per contest.
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