Fantasy Basketball

NCAAW: Iowa Hawkeyes freshman Hannah Stuelke continues to step up

Iowa freshman forward Hannah Stuelke is what you might expect from any freshman at a Division I institution. She is still unsure about what she wants to major in, but when it comes to basketball she knows exactly what she is doing and what she wants.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native and Washington High School graduate who was named the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year and Miss Iowa Basketball has been a major contributor for the Hawkeyes coming off the bench.

She is averaging 6.8 points per game and has a total of 72 rebounds thus far, which places her fourth behind McKenna Warnock, Monika Czinano, and Caitlin Clark in that category. Furthermore, she has scored in double digits six times and leads all freshmen in minutes with 218.

Her biggest performance came against Northwestern on Jan. 11 when scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds. She drew a charge, was the clean-up person for some missed threes by Clark, and received thunderous applause from Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Prior to that, she recorded her first double-double against Purdue on Dec. 29 with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Stuelke says that the benefit of playing on a fast-paced, up-tempo team that allows her to run has enabled her to achieve these stellar numbers. But more importantly, she appreciates playing in a family-like atmosphere headed by coach Lisa Bluder.

“It’s a big family and it’s really cool to have that at college”, she said. “For most people, it’s really hard to come to college and be away from their family but we have a family right here so that is really nice to have.”

Stuelke exudes tremendous passion every time she steps on the floor, a trait she attributes to her upbringing and a love for the game that was handed down to her by her parents, who also played.

“I’ve always loved the game. Just getting out there and being able to show what we can do is a lot of fun,” she said. “I’ve always been a big basketball girl.”

That drive plus her ability to step up when needed comes at a crucial time as Iowa is trying to hold onto the title of Big Ten champions in a conference that is entirely up for grabs this season.

After a gusty, gritty, and grueling battle with Michigan State in which they came with a narrow victory, the Hawkeyes will have their biggest test as they travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on the undefeated No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes on Monday.

Stuelke says that she anticipates it being a good game with plenty of intensity and has a simple philosophy in mind to be victorious.

“We just have to stay focused and we can be their first loss,” she said.

From this point forward, Stuelke is looking to continue to grow as a player and as a person. She admits that she struggles with confidence, but is determined to put in the work. Plus, she acknowledges that the support she gets from her teammates helps her.

“It is good to know that they all back me up and believe in me,” she said.

With players such as Clark and Czinano garnering most of the attention, Stuelke expresses a genuine humility in the same way they do. She appreciates the basics of wanting to play for the love of the game and accolades being entirely secondary.

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