Addison O’Grady working to play bigger role for Iowa women’s basketball team
Colorado native expected to help fill void left by All-Big Ten center Monika Czinano
By John Bohnenkamp
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Addison O’Grady played a role in Iowa’s postseason run last season, and the junior center thinks that experience can help boost her into being a bigger part of the Hawkeyes’ rotation this season.
Monika Czinano, the Hawkeyes’ post anchor who scored more than 2,400 points in her career, is gone, leaving behind a void of production and experience inside.
O’Grady, who was Czinano’s main backup in March during the Hawkeyes’ journey to the national championship game, is working to gain those minutes.
“This is what you wait for,” said O’Grady, a 6-foot-3 junior from Aurora, Colorado, during Thursday’s media availability at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “This is what everyone wants to get — a lot more playing time, a lot more opportunity.”The Hawkeyes are getting 10 extra practices this summer as they prepare for a two-week trip to Italy and Croatia starting next week.
It’s a chance for coach Lisa Bluder to evaluate all of her frontcourt options.
“I wanted to see this summer to see if someone is going to jump into that ‘5,’” Bluder said. “Like, who is going to really own it? And I’m still not there.”
Bluder could go with a big frontcourt, with sophomore Hannah Stuelke at the ‘4’ and a post committee of O’Grady, A.J. Ediger and Sharon Goodman. She could also play Stuelke at the ‘5’, move sixth-year forward Kate Martin to the ‘4’, and play with a combination of Sydney Affolter, Taylor McCabe and KyliFeuerbach along with national player of the year Caitlin Clark and fifth-year guard Gabbie Marshall in the backcourt.
O’Grady would prefer to win the job, and how she finished last season provided plenty of momentum.
O’Grady had just three games of double-digit minutes during the regular season, and during one four-game stretch in Big Ten play played just four minutes in two games.
But she played 10 minutes in Iowa’s 87-77 win over Colorado in the NCAA regional semifinals, 10 minutes in the 77-73 win over top-ranked South Carolina in the national semifinals, and then 18 minutes in the championship-game loss to LSU.
“Definitely it was a big moment, a life-changer,” O’Grady said. “Obviously that gave me a lot more confidence going into the offseason.
“That gave me a little confidence. The middle of the season was a little rough, I would say, for me. Getting to play, on the biggest stage I’ve been on, to be in the game … I think that’s the most I played all season. On the big stage, I think I proved to myself that I could do good against anyone, any team.”
“I thought she had great momentum going in (to the summer),” Bluder said. “She played great for us in the Final Four. Against bigger, taller players, she had to step up, and she did. I definitely think she has the head-start because of that, and I want her to have the confidence that she played with. She played against the best in the country, and she played well.”
O’Grady learned from playing behind Czinano, similar to the way Czinano learned from playing behind national player of the year Megan Gustafson.
“Monika has taught me to be a lot more aggressive, so I’ve taken that from her,” O’Grady said. “But I think I have a little more range than Monika has, maybe a little more finesse around the basket.”
O’Grady is also thriving from the teaching of Iowa associate head coach Jan Jensen, whom O’Grady calls, “the best post coach in the country.”That experience, she said, is becoming more and more valuable.
“This season, she’s really just on me about little things that will make me better,” O’Grady said. “I’m maybe annoyed when she says something, but I’m like, ‘You’re right. It will get me to be my best.’ She’s such an amazing coach. She’s going to really help.
“She’s always getting her phone out to record. It’s not always the best film quality. But she’s always showing me little things that I can’t see or feel myself doing. But she sees them.”