By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Those sneaky Hawkeyes, doing their best Willis Reed or Kirk Gibson impressions during the most sacred of weeks on the state of Iowa athletics calendar.
First it was Sam Stoll of wrestling, then Kathleen Doyle of women’s basketball, followed by Cordell Pemsl of men’s basketball. In a six-day span from Dec. 1-6, all three injured and out-of-action Hawkeye student-athletes made grand, unforeseen, and successful entrances to compete in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series.
The team outcomes were three victories for the Hawkeyes, who clinched the in-state series before Santa Claus could pack his sleigh.
Stoll’s 5-1 victory over Gannon Gremmel helped Iowa to a 19-18 victory on the mat Dec. 1. Pemsl scored eight points with six rebounds in 16 minutes as the Hawkeyes posted a 98-84 victory in men’s basketball Dec. 6.
Sandwiched between was the dusting off of Doyle, who suffered a fracture of the third and fourth metacarpal in her left (non-shooting) hand Nov. 4 during practice. After four weeks and five days of healing, she logged 29 minutes against the Cyclones on Dec. 5, scoring 22 points with two steals in Iowa’s 73-70 win.
“My adrenaline took me through the (Iowa State game),” Doyle said. “My hand is still recovering, so I relied on a little adrenaline getting back into that game. I didn’t go out there thinking I was going to score (22 points), I was going to do whatever it took to help my team win.”
It wasn’t a cameo appearance for Doyle, a preseason All-Big Ten selection. With her left hand and two fingers covered by black wrap, she replaced starter Alexis Sevillian 3-minutes, 12-seconds into Saturday’s victory over Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
What transpired over the course of her 31 minutes on Mediacom Court was a symphony of pass deflections, rebounds, leading transition, cross-court assists, steals, and layups. You know, stuff Doyle did last season while averaging 11.1 points, 6.6 assists, and 1.5 steals in 30 games.
For the first seven games of Iowa’s 2018-19 season, Doyle sat (not-so-patiently) on the bench cheering her teammate to a 5-2 record. On the evening of Dec. 3, she received a favorable medical report that had her jumping and cheering for herself. Or maybe it was a cheer, or a hand (no pun intended) for the cooperative healing taking place on her left hand.
“It was a hard day leading up to the news,” Doyle said. “I felt my hand was good to go, or I was hoping it was going to be good to go, but waiting for the call was stressful. When I found out, I started cheering, I was so happy hearing the news on the phone from my trainer. There was so much joy and relief because sitting out was the worst and I was ready to get back out there.”
Doyle was a key component against IUPUI. Iowa was plus-17 on the scoreboard during the 31 minutes she was on the floor. Doyle made 3 of 7 field goals, 1 of 2 free throws for seven points. She also added two rebounds, two assists, and two blocked shots. Doyle’s four steals matched teammate Tania Davis for game-high honors on a day when the Hawkeyes swiped a season-high 13.
“Overall, it was kind of an ugly game, but we won (72-58),” Doyle said. “It is good to be back. I need to give myself a little grace getting back. It’s not going to be perfect every time, but it’s fun to get back in the flow of things and be part of it again.”