IOWA CITY — Monika Czinano is more than a returning all-Big Ten women’s basketball player. Now, she’s a veteran. A leader.
“It’s a different role,” the junior center said during the first day of Zoom press conferences with the Iowa Hawkeyes on Thursday. “It’s something I need to wrap my head around.”
Once the understudy to Megan Gustafson, Czinano is the mentor for the next star-in-waiting in the post, freshman Sharon Goodman.
“Being together this summer, it allowed us to work out together,” Czinano said. “Now, in practice, she’s picking up everything beautifully, doing everything so well.
“Oh, gosh, she’s doing everything so well.”
How well? Well enough that Coach Lisa Bluder said last week that Czinano and Goodman were basically dead-even.
“We have a great relationship,” said Goodman, who led Crestwood High School to an 81-13 record in four years, highlighted by a Class 3A state title in 2018. Goodman, who like Czinano stands 6-foot-3, finished her career with 1,798 points and 817 rebounds. averaging 27.0 points and shooting 73.5 percent from the field as a senior.
“I’m here to help the team. I’m here to work hard and make myself better,” Goodman said. “And if I make Monika better, that’s an accomplishment for me, too.”
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Iowa assistant Jan Jensen has developed a reputation as a post-coaching guru, and the development of Gustafson and Czinano is evidence of that.
“Jan was a big part of the decision to come here,” Goodman said. “I wanted to go someplace that they use the post, and value the post.”
In her first year as a starter, Czinano averaged 16.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as the Hawkeyes went 23-7 last season and finished third in the Big Ten. She was second nationally in field-goal accuracy, at 67.9 percent.
If there was a downfall, it was that she was prone to get into foul trouble.
“It’s something I need to work on,” Czinano said. “That’s a bottom-line goal for me, staying out of foul trouble.”
The Hawkeyes still don’t have a 2020-21 schedule, but officials said Thursday that a game is likely next week. The opponent, date and site remain a mystery.
Drake posted its schedule Thursday, and that includes a game at Des Moines against the Hawkeyes on Dec. 2. Western Illinois’ schedule has a date at Iowa City on Dec. 22.
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