By Susan Harman
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Basketball teams are not static, although Iowa may have seemed that way when it had the same starting lineup for the last three years. Usually teams are growing, developing organisms that do not progress in a straight line and often develop in unforeseen ways. The human element, with 18- to 22-year olds, is particularly unpredictable.
Redshirt junior post Sharon Goodman is an example. This summer she looked like she would help, but her minutes likely would be somewhat limited. But something changed, and in the months leading up to the start of the season Goodman seized the moment.
“It’s been a long process,” Goodman said. “Just looking at basketball in my life, that’s been a journey for sure. I’m coming here and getting hurt my second year and then kind of just battling last year, not only because of an injury but just kind of struggling through that, but it feels good to be on the other side of it now.”
“I think Sharon was on track before that injury,” Associate head coach Jan Jensen said. “Unfortunately that injury (knee surgery) kind of set her back.”
Both Jensen and Goodman have cited Goodman’s growing confidence as key to her breakthrough.
“I think a lot of that was on the mental end for me, just kind of flipping the switch and playing with a little bit more freedom and more confidence,” Goodman said.
Coaches have worked with her to adjust her thought process in dealing with the inevitable failures on the court.
“Some kids when they miss a shot, they’re just mad because they missed a shot,” Jensen said. “She is frustrated…because she let Kate (Martin) down and she let Caitlin (Clark) down.”
Jensen said that attitude interfered with Goodman’s confidence. Coaches emphasized the need to focus on the next play and not dwell on the last one.
“We’re not just coming in at the end of the game and ‘Oh I can’t miss,’ whether we’re up or down. No. You’re the one, and I think she started to understand that she’s the one,” Jensen explained. “She wants to help them move it forward, and she’s really selfless. And that’s a great quality on a team, but it can be hard when it can play with your confidence.”
It has, after all, been a new role for her now that all-Big Ten center Monika Czinano has left after five seasons. Jensen said the coaches will keep “a watchful eye” on Goodman’s progress.
“I think we’ve gotten through that after the summer and early fall; you’re going to miss (shots) and don’t let it bother you,” Jensen said.
Goodman has started seven of Iowa’s 12 games, averages nine points (fourth on the team), 5.5 rebounds (also 4th) and 16.8 minutes of play (7th).
Iowa’s top three posts (Goodman, Hannah Stuelke, Addison O’Grady) combine to average 46.2 minutes. You can conclude that it’s unusual to have two of the three on the floor at the same time.
“We have a lot of good guards, so not taking up their spot, all of them are doing amazing, so let them do their work,” Goodman said. “It’s (the coaches’) decision who starts, and I think a lot of it goes into who (the opponent’s post) is. Hannah’s obviously a little better at defense than I am. So that probably goes into it or just who they think can do more on offense, kind of balancing that.”
Jensen said sorting out the posts is an ongoing puzzle.
“When you have a really healthy, good, balanced team, it’s so close,” Jensen said. “That’s when you have to get everybody understanding that when my number is called, we’re ready to go, whether I start or come off the bench. Thankfully we have a team with a pretty good culture that gets that.”
They get it and they keep competing in practice which is rigorously charted so coaches have more information than just the eyeball test.
“Sharon works really hard,” Jensen said. “She’s a really strong defender. The emphasis (this season) isn’t so much on the scoring of the post. We just want to do our jobs when we get it, and Sharon really understands that, and defensively she’s pretty solid. She’s able to push them, out and then she just can grab those boards.”
Iowa’s (11-1) final non-conference game is Thursday at 5 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena against Loyola (Ill.). The game will be streamed on Big Ten Plus. The Ramblers are 6-4. The Ramblers bench includes assistant coach Marsha Frese, a Cedar Rapids native and sister to Maryland coach Brenda Frese, and director of basketball operations, Abi Scheid, who played on Northwestern’s Big Ten championship team in 2020.
After the game the Hawkeyes break for the holidays and return to get ready for Minnesota on Dec. 30 in Iowa City.