December 2012

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Johnson Brings Home Early Awards By Aaron Blau D uring preseason workouts, University of Iowa women's basketball coach Lisa Bluder pointed to senior center Morgan Johnson as one of the leaders of her team. After the first four games of the season, that leadership can be seen on the statistics sheet. Johnson was named to the Preseason WNIT all-tournament team after a hot start to the season. The Platte City, Mo., native averaged 18.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in Iowa's four Preseason WNIT contests. She scored 24 points in the quarterfinals against Illinois State and 20 points each in the semifinals against Middle Tennessee and in the finals versus North Carolina. Iowa's starting center says her play on the perimeter, not in the paint, is key to her success. "The guards did a great job of getting me the ball in the paint," Johnson said. "If a post player has a good game, it's usually because of the guards. If we didn't have such a presence on the perimeter, I wouldn't have the openings inside that I have." It's one thing to get open looks, but it's another to actually convert. Through the first four games, Johnson was shooting 56.5 percent from the field (26-of-46). Against Middle Tennessee, Johnson was 8-of-10 and followed with an 8-of-11 performance against North Carolina. "It's all about taking good shots at the right time," Johnson said of her field goal percentage. "You have to convert when you get a good look and not force it when you don't have a good look. Being smart with shot selection has helped me in terms of field goal percentage." Johnson's points aren't all collected in the paint. She put together a 73.9 (23-of-29) free throw percentage to start the season. Focus is the key to Johnson's talents at the line. 37 "I've learned to concentrate more on the middle of the basket instead of my form," Johnson said. "I tend to overthink the process when I'm at the line, focusing on my form. I've simplified things at the line and it seems to be working." Johnson was named Big Ten Player of the Week for her efforts in the Preseason WNIT semifinals and championship game. She recorded her 13th career double-double against North Carolina, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds. After earning two awards in the first two weeks of the season, Johnson's confidence level is high. She credits her teammates with helping keep that energy level where it needs to be. "I have a lot of confidence right now," Johnson said. "I have great teammates that are constantly encouraging, picking me up if I have an off day at practice or in a game and just being there for me. Knowing that this is my last season, I'm going to give it everything I have and be ready to play each day." Johnson continued her torrid start to the season in Miami over Thanksgiving weekend. She scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds during a 66-65 loss to host Florida International on Nov. 23; she scored 19 points with three rebounds two days later during a 79-70 upset win against No. 12 West Virginia. Her five blocked shots against Florida International made Johnson the UI's all-time leader, passing Tangela Smith, who blocked 235 from 1994-98.

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