CEDAR RAPIDS — After winning four national championships from 2007-2010, the Kirkwood women’s basketball team has dealt with high expectations.
Eager fans are ready for another title.
The fourth-ranked Eagles feel their chances are better than ever to get back to the national tournament.
“I really think it can happen. We have a lot of depth in our team and I mean, this year is the year,” guard Mikayla Fallon said. “We are really (unpredictable). Just look at our stats, you can see one girl scored high one game, and another the next. Just with that, I think we can go far.”
As a sophomore, Fallon not only wants to make it to nationals because it’s her last year, but also for her coach, Kim Muhl.
“Coach hasn’t won in a while and I think he just really wants to make an appearance,” Fallon said.
While nationals are familiar for Muhl — the Eagles have only missed the NJCAA tournament twice the last seven years — he is not about to get ahead of himself.
“We still have much to accomplish before nationals,” Muhl said. “Right now it’s been a rough couple weeks with injuries. We’re down players and it’s showing on the court.”
The team’s depth, however, is what Muhl believes will help during hard times.
For the injured, there is little time to recover before the Eagles head to regionals. Only the champion from the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference advances to nationals, leaving Kirkwood likely to face 14th-ranked Iowa Central for the spot.
“We have a good conference,” Muhl said. “Which makes regionals tough this year, especially when we have a young team.”
Regional semifinals and finals are in Fort Dodge, forcing the young team, compiled of 12 freshmen and three sophomores, to play even harder.
“It’s going to be difficult to play on the road,” freshman Zoe Kelso said. “It’s a different atmosphere and it’s different for us just shooting-wise and things. But I think were up for the challenge.”
The Eagles (17-3) remained undefeated at home following last night’s 66-44 win over Southwestern. The road has been tougher.
“We are who we are,” Muhl said. “We look goofy at times and we play really well at times.
“When we can’t get a shot we will get back in the gym and work at it, and that’s what we’re doing.”