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LSU and Iowa are prepared for a rematch in the 2023 title showdown.

In Albany, N.Y., Iowa and LSU find themselves facing each other once more on Monday night, albeit with mixed feelings. While both teams welcome the challenge of a rematch from last year’s national championship game, they express a desire for a grander stage. LSU coach Kim Mulkey highlights the need to elevate the game, citing the record-breaking viewership of the previous championship. The anticipation is palpable, with the matchup featuring last year’s champion against a formidable No. 1 seed. Additionally, the game promises a captivating showdown between two of women’s basketball’s brightest stars, Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark.

Mulkey acknowledges the immense talent of both players, noting their significant contributions to the sport. She highlights their trash-talking abilities, their knack for elevating their teammates’ performances, and their unwavering support for one another. Their impact extends beyond the court, drawing in new viewers who may have never before engaged with women’s basketball.

Indeed, the teams have undergone changes since their last encounter in April, with LSU missing key players who were instrumental in their previous victory. The absence of top scorers LaDazhia Williams, Jasmine Carson, and Alexis Morris presents a new challenge for the team. However, LSU has added talented replacements, including forward Aneesah Morrow, who averages 16.5 points per game and transferred from DePaul. Additionally, guards Mikaylah Williams, a freshman, and Hailey Van Lith, a transfer from Louisville, bring scoring prowess to the lineup, averaging 14.4 and 11.7 points per game, respectively.

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder emphasizes LSU’s strengths, noting their proficiency in three-point shooting and rebounding, as well as their balanced scoring with five players averaging in double figures. This balance poses a significant challenge for opposing defenses.

 

Moreover, Iowa’s depth goes beyond Caitlin Clark, with players like Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin stepping up in pivotal roles this season. Additionally, the emergence of 6-foot-2 Hannah Stuelke as the team’s second-leading scorer adds another dimension to Iowa’s offense.

 

Angel Reese acknowledges Stuelke’s versatility and strength in the post, highlighting the adjustments she’ll need to make in guarding her compared to Monika Czinano from last year.

Clark reflects on lessons learned from the previous loss against LSU and expresses her intention to adopt a more aggressive approach this time. She aims to diversify her offensive game, focusing less on settling for three-point shots and instead driving into the paint to create opportunities for her teammates.

 

With Alexis Morris no longer on the team, sophomore Flau’jae Johnson assumes the challenging task of guarding Clark in the upcoming matchup. Despite the daunting assignment, Johnson embraces the opportunity to compete against one of the best players in the game and is determined to contain Clark while striving for victory with the support of her teammates.

Iowa continues to adapt without starter Molly Davis, who sustained a knee injury in early March. In her absence, junior Sydney Affolter has seamlessly transitioned into the starting lineup, averaging over seven points and six rebounds per game for the Hawkeyes. Affolter’s impressive performance, including a 15-point outing in the Sweet 16, has earned praise from coach Bluder, who commends her confidence and resilience. While Bluder expresses a desire to have Davis back, she is pleased with Affolter’s ability to showcase her talents and contribute to the team’s success.

Written by schooleiwa

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