Rosemont, Ill. – When Morgan Johnson looks at tape of herself as a college freshman, she can’t help but smile.
“I laugh at my gangly self my freshman year,” Johnson said.
No one is laughing now. The Hawkeyes’ senior center was named to the preseason all-Big Ten team Thursday in a ballot of league coaches.
“I’m really proud of Morgan for getting this honor,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “But how can she not? Last year she was the seventh-best field-goal shooter in America, and 26th in blocked shots. So she’s doing it at both ends. She’s a four-year starter for us. I was kind of shocked at the end of last year when she wasn’t one of the top five players in this league. But I’m glad that she is now.”
Johnson was a second-team all-league pick last season after averaging 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. She shot 54.9 percent from the field and blocked 2.3 shots a game. The gangly freshman has grown up.
“More than anything my confidence and knowledge of the game have really risen,” Johnson said.
“http://hawkcentral.com/2012/10/25/big-ten-media-days-lisa-bluder-transcript/”>Transcript: Lisa Bluder's press conference at Big Ten media day
Not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well.
“My approach to the game has changed so much to get to where I’m at today,” Johnson said.
Bluder said that if not for a knee injury last season, Johnson might have been joined by senior guard Jamie Printy on the preseason all-Big Ten team.
Printy, who is working her way back into shape at practice, calls Johnson’s preseason honor “absolutely awesome. She deserves it so much. She’s worked so hard these past three years, playing great for us. I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do for us this year.”
With Johnson and Printy, Iowa will again be strong as an inside-out threat.
“If we’re able to get the ball inside to Morgan and have people worry so much about her, it really opens up the perimeter for everyone else, too,” Printy said.
Bluder is encouraged by Printy’s progress so far, and she’s rooting for her comeback.
“Everyone loves a Cinderella story,” Bluder said.
BIG TEN WOMEN’S POLL
Coaches – 1. Penn State; 2. Nebraska; 3. Purdue
Media – 1. Penn State; 2. Nebraska; 3. Ohio State
Coaches team – (seven players due to ties) Morgan Johnson, Iowa; Rachel Banham, Minnesota; Jordan Hooper, Nebraska; Tayler Hill, Ohio State; Alex Bentley, Penn State; Maggie Lucas, Penn State; Courtney Moss, Purdue.
Media team – Hooper; Lindsey Moore, Nebraska; Hill; Bentley, Lucas.
Coaches player of the year – Hill, Bentley (tie).
Media player of the year – Hill.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball