Bethany Doolittle often is still listed as a center for the Iowa women’s basketball team.
But the 6-foot-4 sophomore from Oakdale, Minn., has started every game this season at power forward. And now the move is starting to really click for her.
Doolittle had a team-high and career-best 19 points in Sunday’s win over Michigan.
“Bethany keeps getting better and better,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I just think she’s more athletic than people realize. She’s a better shooter than people gave her credit for.
“I think her problem was she came in here and she’s deferring to everybody.”
Asked to mix into a lineup with three returning starters and play in the paint next to preseason All-Big Ten center Morgan Johnson, Doolittle was slow to find a role.
“I’m seeing the player I saw this summer,” Johnson said. “The ability to take one dribble and pull up. Her confidence is at an all-time high. And I just think she’s capitalized.
“She is just playing fantastic right now.”
Doolittle had the first double-double of her career Dec. 19 against Missouri State (12 points, 12 rebounds).
Before that game, she had been shooting 36-of-92 from the field (39.1 percent), but since she’s 43-of-84 (51.2 percent).
“We talk about … good shot selection,” Bluder said. “And I think she’s learning that.”
Doolittle isn’t the same as previous power forwards under Bluder. Most have been smaller, quicker 3-point shooters such as Kelly Krei.
Doolittle is learning to play with her size inside and out a little better. Up until the last three games, Doolittle only had shot three free throws.
“I definitely have to work on going stronger to the basket,” Doolittle said last week. “Be welcoming of that contact and get to the free throw line a little more.”
She is now 5-of-7 at the line over the past three games.
“Playing power forward has been a big switch for her,” Johnson said. “Taking the ball out, being more mobile. She’s taken it and embraced it. She can play inside or outside. She’s a double-threat.”
A sophomore, the future may be at power forward, or it may be back at center for Doolittle. Bluder wasn’t going to commit either way Tuesday.
“Both those options are a reality,” Bluder said.
Iowa has a pair of freshman centers in 6-3 Kayla Timmerman and 6-4 Nicole Smith.
“We all practice the five,” Johnson said. “We’re training them all to be superb fives. We want to have the best fives in the Big Ten.”
Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball