BREAKING NEWS

Iowa's Megan Gustafson, Lisa Bluder sweep Naismith women's basketball honors

Gustafson is Naismith player of year, Bluder coach of year

Iowa forward Megan Gustafson, earning commemorative basketballs for career scoring and career rebounds records, and Coach Lisa Bluder earned Naismith player and coach of the year honors on Saturday. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson, earning commemorative basketballs for career scoring and career rebounds records, and Coach Lisa Bluder earned Naismith player and coach of the year honors on Saturday. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — As Megan Gustafson zeroed in on Ally Disterhoft’s scoring record at the University of Iowa, Disterhoft was a bit perplexed:

“Megan should be getting more recognition than she is,” Disterhoft said in December.

And now, Gustafson is more than playing catch-up.

First, ESPN.

Then, the Associated Press.

Now, the Naismith.

Next, the Wooden?

Gustafson harvested another major national award Saturday, picking up the 2019 Citizen Naismith Trophy as the top women’s basketball player in the nation.

Her coach, Lisa Bluder, made it an Iowa Naismith sweep, becoming the first Hawkeyes head coach to win the coach-of-the-year award since C. Vivian Stringer claimed the honor in 1993. Bluder edged out Wes Moore (North Carolina State), Kim Mulkey (Baylor) and Vic Schaefer (Mississippi State).

Other finalists for player of the year were Asia Durr of Louisville, Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon and Arike Ogunbowale of Notre Dame.

The Naismith is Gustafson’s third major national-player-of-the-year award. ESPN chose her in March, then AP did likewise Thursday.

Gustafson is the first women’s player from the University of Iowa to win any of these awards, and she is the first Big Ten women’s player to win the Naismith.

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She will be drafted into the WNBA on Wednesday; most mock drafts have her as a late-first-round pick.

A 6-foot-3 senior post, Gustafson led the Hawkeyes (29-7) to a Big Ten tournament championship and their first Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1993.

She led the nation in scoring (27.8 points per game), field-goal percentage (.696) and double-doubles (her 33 tied an NCAA Division I record for a season). She was third in rebounds per game (13.4).

Gustafson scored 1,001 points this season — becoming the fourth D-I player to go over 1,000 — and 2,804 in her career.

A native of Port Wing, Wis. (population 160), Gustafson came to Iowa from South Shore High School, the smallest school in Wisconsin. At South Shore, she scored 3,229 career points.

She became a starter at Iowa midway through her freshman season, and was named to the all-Big Ten freshman team after averaging 10.7 points and 6.8 rebounds as a rookie.

Her scoring average grew to 18.5 points per game as a sophomore, then 25.7, then 27.8. Her rebounding average increased to 10.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore, then 12.8, then 13.4.

She was the Big Ten player of the year (media) as a junior, by both the coaches and media as a senior.

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Gustafson finished with 88 double-doubles, fourth most in D-I history for a career. She is No. 5 all-time in career field-goal percentage (.657), 14th in rebounds (1,459) and 24th in points.

Her legacy goes far beyond the numbers, though. She’ll be remembered for her quiet self-confidence and her humility — “a superstar without an ego,” Bluder repeatedly called her.

“I just tried to do my job here,” Gustafson said after the Hawkeyes lost to No. 1 Baylor in the regional finals Monday. “I just tried to work hard every single day.

“God has just blessed me with an amazing ability to play basketball, and I am so, so glad the University of Iowa chose me, and I chose them.”

The Naismith Award is determined by a panel vote (95 percent) and fan vote (5 percent). The Wooden Award will be presented in Los Angeles next week.

Bluder led Iowa to its first Elite Eight appearance since 1993. The Hawkeyes’ 29 wins matched a program record.

In 19 years at the helm, Bluder has led the Hawkeyes to 12 seasons of 20 wins or more. The Hawkeyes have won 20 or more games in 10 of the last 12 years.

Bluder’s record at Iowa is 396-217; she is 752-359 in 35 years overall.

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

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