Katie Abrahamson-Henderson’s homecoming will continue on Sunday as the Georgia women’s basketball team gears up to take on second-seeded Iowa in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Iowa is led by junior guard Caitlin Clark, one of the best scorers in the country, and the team is coming off a first round thrashing of Southeastern Louisiana.
“Caitlin is a great player and does a lot for her team,” Georgia guard Diamond Battles said. “She disrupts; she makes you change what you have, your game plan and everything. She's a key focus of the team, so locking in on the game plan that we have, playing our defense and tweaking a couple things is what we have to focus on.”
The Hawkeyes will enjoy a nice home court advantage on Sunday, as the game will be played in their own Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game is sold out and will presumably be packed with Hawkeye fans.
“Every D1 athlete lives for this moment, whether they are cheering for you or against you,” Battles said. “You get to play in front of a sold-out arena, who wouldn't want to do that? The lights are on and it's time to show up. I think our team is locked and loaded and we are ready to show up and put on a show.”
Though Clark leads Iowa in points, rebounds, assists and blocks, she isn’t without help. Senior forwards Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock have been excellent second options for the Hawkeyes all season. Both players average double-digit points and provide Iowa with size and rebounding.
“Monika, she's good. I love her. Everybody plays their roles really well,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “[Iowa assistant coach] Jan Jensen always does a spectacular job with her post players. She's always had great post players and [head coach Lisa Bluder] has always had great post players. Jan, she's the reason those post players are that good. I think she's phenomenal.”
Georgia’s size has been a major strength for the team all season on both ends of the floor, and it will certainly be a factor in how Iowa will operate on Sunday.
“I think defensively [Bluder]’s going to mix it up,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “She's going to play junk. She's going to play triangle in two; box in one, she's going to do a 2-3. She's going to play man. it's just going to depend who we have in. It's going to be a chess match the whole game, and I think she's really good at that. Depending who goes in the game, you may see her pull out a different defense. Offensively, I don't think [Czinano] is going to move too far off that block because she is a stud down there. They are going to move everybody around and get us to spread out as much as they can so they can throw it in to her. So we have to be smart about not getting too spread out.”
Iowa was also a No. 2 seed in last year’s tournament before being upset by 10 seeded Creighton in the second round. Georgia will be looking to repeat history, conquer a hostile environment and advance to its first Sweet 16 since 2013.