The demands placed on a point guard continue to grow.
Towering talents such as Baylor’s Brittney Griner may garner much of the attention in women’s basketball, but somebody has to set the stage.
“Point guards not only have to distribute, get the team settled down and know everything that’s going on – they also have to score,” Drake sophomore Kyndal Clark explained.
Iowa’s Samantha Logic agreed.
“I think that’s a trend, to have scoring point guards,” she said. “It just adds a whole other dimension.”
When the 2012-13 season tips off this week, each of the state’s Big Four programs will feature an experienced floor leader.
Clark, Logic and Iowa State’s Nikki Moody made their debuts a year ago as freshmen, while Northern Iowa’s Jacqui Kalin returns for her senior season after missing 2011-12 with a knee injury.
“I have a lot of respect for all three of those point guards,” Kalin said. “As kind of an older player watching, I was definitely very impressed.
“They’re doing great things for their programs.”
Those contributions tend to be overlooked by casual observers.
The 6-foot-8 Griner dominated during Baylor’s march to the NCAA title last spring, but solid perimeter play remains a staple of success.
Four of the top five returning scorers in the Big Ten Conference are guards. Same for the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Big 12 boasts Griner and Iowa State forward Chelsea Poppens, but three other top returners are guards.
Griner is the only one of those 15 players who is listed taller than 6-2.
“You have to understand, we need to get the ball in to the big players like Chelsea,” Moody said. “But when you start doing that, people are going to guard Chelsea. We have to hit shots. Not just the point guard, but other guards.
“If they’re sagging off and you hit, they have to start guarding you.”
Moody, a 5-8 sophomore form Euless, Texas, averaged 10 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds while helping the Cyclones earn their 13th NCAA Tournament appearance.
“Passing is the main thing point guards need to do,” she said. “You can’t do that without being able to score yourself.”
Logic, also 5-8, was named to the Big Ten Conference’s all-freshman team after contributing 9.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists for the Hawkeyes.
“It’s such a huge part to be able to knock down threes,” Logic said. “So I have spent a really long time on that.”
The 5-5 Clark, from Webb City, Mo., was Drake’s second-leading scorer with 9.8 points, helping the Bulldogs to a runner-up finish at Valley tournament.
“Since I am a smaller guard, when I do face those bigger posts, my first thing is ‘How can I out-smart them?’’’ Clark said. “Obviously, I’m not going to be able to body up and go into them. My thought is, ‘How can I get them uneven? How can I make them think that I’m going to do something different?’’’
Kalin, 5-8, scored 15.3 points and averaged 3.1 assists in 2010-11. Her return elevates Northern Iowa to the status of conference title contender.
“One thing I always used to talk to coach (Tanya) Warren about was how the mid-range game has probably been the most lost shot in basketball,” Kalin said. “That is something I’ve tried to focus on throughout my career, getting better at that mid-range jump shot, just being able to have that as a part of your game.”
===== DRAKE BULLDOGS =====
2011-12 season: 18-16, 9-9 in Missouri Valley (fifth).
This season: Picked ninth.
Strengths: Kyndal Clark, Morgan Reid, Stephanie Running, Carly Grenfell, Liza Heap all contributed to Drake’s run to the Valley tournament title game.
Weaknesses: Will miss star post player Rachael Hackbarth (18.9 ppg., 11.8 rpg.), last year’s Valley player of the year.
The big question: How long will it take for the Bulldogs to adapt to new coach Jennie Baranczyk’s coaching style and philosophy.
Breakout candidate: Morgan Reid, a 6-foot junior, emerged as a solid rebounder last season (5.1 per game), but needs to be more of a scoring option.
Did you know?: The Drake coaching staff features four former college players who combined for 4,963 career points. Baranczyk scored 1,762 for Iowa. Kelsey Bolte scored 1,639 for Iowa State.
===== NORTHERN IOWA PANTHERS =====
2011-12 season: 19-15, 9-9 in Missouri Valley (fourth).
This season: Picked fourth.
Strengths: The return of Jacqui Kalin, the Valley’s 2010-11 player of the year, gives Northern Iowa one of the league’s premier play makers.
Weaknesses: The rest of the lineup will be thin when it comes to proven experience. Amber Kirschbaum started all 32 games last season and averaged 9.2 points, 7.1 rebounds.
The big question: Can Kalin be the catalyst for another conference title run.
Breakout candidate: Mercedees Morgan started 20 games last season, averaging 7 points and three rebounds, and appears ready for a big senior season.
Did you know?: The Panthers have won at least 17 games each of the last three seasons, something that’s happened only twice in the program’s history.
===== IOWA HAWKEYES =====
2011-12 season: 19-12, 11-5 in Big Ten (second, tied).
This season: Not picked among top three.
Strengths: The Hawkeyes return 69.3 percent of their scoring and 70.7 percent of their rebounding and 64 percent of their assists.
Weaknesses: The schedule features 18 teams that received postseason bids in 2011-12, including nine NCAA Tournament qualifiers.
The big question: How does Jaime Printy perform after knee surgery last season.
Breakout candidate: Bethany Doolittle, a 6-4 sophomore, is listed as a starter after averaging 3.7 points and 1.8 rebounds as a freshman.
Did you know?: In 13 seasons under coach Lisa Bluder, Iowa has beaten a top-15 team 13 times. The Hawkeyes have notched at least one win over a top-25 foe in 11 of those seasons.
===== IOWA STATE CYCLONES =====
2011-12 season: 18-13, 9-9 in Big 12 (fourth place).
This season: Picked sixth
Strengths: Iowa State returns its top three scorers and rebounders from last season, as well as its top assist maker.
Weaknesses: The Cyclones shot 39.2 percent last season, placing them eighth in the 10-team Big 12.
The big question: Can anyone in the Big 12 beat defending champion Baylor?
BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Junior forward Hallie Christofferson (10.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) could emerge as one of the most versatile players in the Big 12.
Did you know?: Chelsea Poppens (14.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg) was projected to go in the first round of the WNBA draft, at No. 12 to Minnesota, according to draftsite.com.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball