IOWA CITY — It hasn’t hit yet, but Monika Czinano isn’t taking her final chance to play at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for granted.
Czinano and McKenna Warnock will run onto the court at home one last time in Sunday’s 2 p.m. NCAA second-round game against Georgia.
The two seniors in the Hawkeye lineup want to leave on a good note.
“I’m sure when the game is over, there will be a lot of memories that will come back because this is such a special place,” Czinano said. “I’ve tried to never take that for granted. Not many players have had the chance to have so many great memories at home as we have, big wins, the best fans, it’s all been so special.”
Warnock shares that sentiment.
“One final game, you want to make the most of it and the best way to do that is to take care of business during the game,” Warnock said.
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The quick turnaround from Friday’s blowout opening-round win over Southeastern Louisiana and the second-round match-up with the Bulldogs has helped keep the focus where Czinano said it should be — on the game.
“We’ve got a really good opponent to get ready for and that’s where my attention is right now,” Czinano said. “And we’re playing at home. We’ve always made protecting our home court one of our top priorities and we’ve been able to do that for the most part. We want to get one more. That’s the goal right now.”
Warnock, who announced last month that she does not plan to use the extra season of eligibility she has available, said the chance to play in front of sellout crowds in the final three home games of her career — in the regular-season finale against Indiana and the first two rounds of the NCAA tourney — is something she will never forget.
“It’s been a dream come true these past four years and to finish it up with another win and to advance, that would be huge,” Warnock said.
Hawkeye connection: Excuse Georgia freshman Amiya Evans if she feels a little at home this weekend.
The 6-foot-2 forward is the daughter of former Hawkeye Reggie Evans, who was introduced to the crowd during the Bulldogs’ NCAA opening-round win Friday against Florida State.
“To see people taking pictures with him and getting autographs, that tells me how much the people here remember and love him,” Evans said.
She said it validated everything her father had told her about his all-Big Ten career with the Hawkeyes in from 2000-02.
“He always said this place was the biggest family and when I was a little girl he told me how he enjoyed his time here so much and I can see why,” Evans said.
Evans initially committed to first-year Georgia coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson when she was coaching a year ago at UCF and followed her to the Southeastern Conference program.
Playing behind a deep group of interior players, Evans has seen limited playing time this season and averages 0.5 points and 1.8 rebounds.
She said her father, who averaged 11.9 and 11.1 rebounds in his only two seasons with Iowa before playing 13 years in the NBA, has been a good mentor as her career has progressed.
“He’s taught me so much,” Evans said. “He’s always said this game is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical and he’s right.”
The eyes have it: Georgia coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson was having trouble remembering the names of a couple of Hawkeyes during her Saturday news conference.
In attempting to describe Gabbie Marshall as a complement to Caitlin Clark in the Hawkeye backcourt, the first-year Bulldogs coach paused and said, “Obviously, the cute little one with the eyes, who is that?”
When the moderator followed up, “They all have eyes,” and a reporter suggested that she might be referencing Marshall, Abrahamson-Henderson followed, “Cute eyes, pretty eyes — see women know that. She’s a really good defender and just — I would consider her besides Caitlin to be a sniper. She can knock down shots.”
Rebounding priority: Clark said that Iowa will need to improve its performance on the boards if it hopes to move on to the Sweet 16 next week in Seattle.
“I think that’s something we always preach that all five people need to box out,” Clark said. “Whether you’re on the block, whether you’re in the paint, whatever it is, giving up second-chance opportunities is huge. They’re definitely a team that hangs their hat on getting second-chance opportunities, crashing the boards hard is definitely a key.”