NORTH LIBERTY — She’s an imposing figure on defense and smoothly efficient offensively.
The height and skill of Iowa center Morgan Johnson was on display last night at the Game Time Basketball League in North Liberty. Her 13 points and 5 rebounds, along with fellow Hawkeye Theairra Taylor’s 12 points, helped Cullen Painting/Monica’s/Bob’s Your Uncle team to an 83-67 win over Coralville Hy-Vee.
Johnson wore a brace on her left knee, but ran the floor well, a good sign for the Hawkeyes. She played limited minutes because she suffers from Patellar Tendinitis, or jumper’s knee, an injury that plagued her with constant pain last season.
“It’s doing all right,” Johnson said. “It’s a little better than it was during the season. I’m slowly increasing my intensity and playing increments.”
The on-court presence of 6-foot-5 senior from Platte City, Mo., is hard to miss.
Her list of accolades is as long as her wingspan. Johnson has started all but one game in her Hawkeye career. Her freshman year, she stormed into Carver-Hawkeye Arena with 79 blocks, breaking the school record. Last season, she was second team All-Big Ten, was first in the league in field goal percentage (.549) and was second in blocks (2.3). She also was Big Ten Player of the Week after a career-high 37 points in loss at Bradley on Dec. 17.
Iowa fans can see her talent on the court. But what some don’t know is that she’s just as successful in the classroom.
An academic All-Big Ten pick last season, Johnson seems to embody the term “student-athlete” in every way.
She’s a premedical major and is taking the MCAT this Saturday.
“I’m just trying to stay positive,” Johnson said. “I’ve been taking an online class. Every second of my life is spent on basketball or studying. It’s lots of reading. I’ve spent all summer studying, so I’m ready for it to be done. It’s in God’s hands.”
Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder and the Hawkeye are hoping to extend their streak of five straight NCAA tournament appearances this winter.
They’ll need the help of Samantha Logic, who drew long looks from fans last night, as they nudged their neighbors saying, “Look, that’s her.”
They’ll need a healthy Jaime Printy, who is recovering from her ACL tear in February.
And they’ll need Johnson and her 225 career blocks and the good head on her shoulders.
“We have a lot of new people and we’re starting to see their styles this summer,” Johnson said. “And we have a lot of people coming back. I’m really excited.”