The Glue’ for Iowa women’s basketball, Kate Martin, is ultimate Hawk

Kate Martin is ‘the glue’ of the Hawkeyes.


IOWA CITY, Iowa – Called the “glue” of her team and one of the best leaders Lisa Bluder has coached, Kate Martin credits her upbringing for her ability to take on a leadership role.

“I think I’ve always had it in me with the way I was raised. My parents (Matt and Jill) instilled in me to be the first to take a risk or to jump up to do whatever it is. I think it’s always been instilled in me since I was young,” Martin said.

The Glue' for Iowa women's basketball, Kate Martin, is ultimate Hawk

A 2018 Edwardsville High School graduate, Martin will begin her redshirt junior season when the No. 9-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes open the season against New Hampshire at 6 p.m. Tuesday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Expectations are high for the Hawkeyes, who return all five starters, including Martin, from last year’s team that finished 20-11, advanced to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament and qualified for the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Tournament.

Of the five returning starters, Bluder singled out Martin as the most improved.

“Kate is the glue,” said Bluder, who is 436-232 in 22 seasons at Iowa. “Kate is one of the best leaders that I’ve ever been around, and that’s over quite a few years, so I’m very happy with Kate.

“She’s been a very versatile player for us and playing a number of positions, as well, because we really need to have Kate on the floor for us.”

A 6-0 guard, Martin played in all 30 games last season, averaging 30.7 minutes, and averaged 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds. She also finished with 110 assists and 34 steals.

Kate Martin, 'The Glue' of the Iowa women's basketball team, is in the midst of 'the best times of m | The Gazette

It came after a redshirt freshman season that saw Martin play in 24 games after returning from a torn ACL that forced her to miss her first year.

Bluder expects Martin to continue her progression this season.

“She looks very, very good. I think it’s her maturity, her leadership, her ability to lead this team. She’s healthier than she’s ever been. She’s stronger. She’s quicker. She’s physical. There are just so many elements,” Bluder said. “But I think more than anything, it’s her confidence. After coming off of last year, she had a good year last year, but I think she sees what she’s capable of doing, and I believe it’s a confidence shift in her.”

Martin agreed with Bluder, saying her confidence has grown since his first season in Iowa City.

“There are a number of things I’ve learned since my freshman year,” Martin said. “Mainly, that you can’t let anyone take away your confidence. You build that on your own. I’ve also learned how to be a great teammate, along with a lot of basketball skills. The No. 1 thing has been playing for and with your teammates.”

A confident Martin will enter her second season as a team captain.

As a sophomore last season, Martin took on the role for the first time in college.

“Since I’ve been in college, coach Bluder and the staff have given me that trust that I can lead. They have given me a lot of freedom in that role,” Martin said. “I’ve had a lot of great teammates that have been great with trusting me in that position. College has let me bloom a lot.”

Like any good captain, Martin deflects the attention to her teammates.

“Yes, I have the title as captain, but we have a lot of other great leaders on this team,” Martin said. “It means the world to be named the captain of a top-10 team in the country. I’m hoping I can help lead to a great year.”

Iowa’s other captains include McKenna Warnock and Monika Cziano, who will be in their first years in the role.

Martin will again be asked to do a little bit of everything for Iowa.

It’s a job she has welcomed, even after being a go-to scorer for the Edwardsville Tigers in her senior season when she was named All-State and averaged 16.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.88 assists and 2.13 steals.

“It’s a very humbling experience,” said Martin, who ranks fourth in EHS history with 1,516 points. “I’ve realized being a great teammate is not just about cheering on your teammates and supporting them but it’s also about knowing your role and doing it to the best of your ability. What you learn from that is you’re not going to be the top scorer each nice. Your role might be to get rebounds and play great defense. That’s part of being a great teammate.”

Defense is also part of Martin’s job description.

Bluder called Martin Iowa’s best defender.

“Kate Martin can guard anybody on the court. I would put her on anybody, honestly. It doesn’t matter if they’re — I would even try her on a center at times if they’re not 6-5,” Bluder said.

Again, Martin credited her teammates for helping with her defensive game.

“It’s a mindset,” Martin said. “Defense isn’t just a one-person thing. You have to have your teammates. I have great teammates that play good defense as well. It’s nice to have that challenge to guard the best player, though.”

For Iowa to take a step forward this season, defense will be important.

The Glue' for Iowa women's basketball, Kate Martin, is ultimate Hawk

The Glue’ for Iowa women’s basketball, Kate Martin, is ultimate Hawk.

Last season, the Hawkeyes ranked 336th in the country in defense at 80.3 points allowed per game. It was second in the country in scoring, averaging 86.1 points.

“We have worked a lot on defense. We barely touched a ball this summer,” Martin said. “Every practice, we started with defense. It was at the forefront of our minds. We’ve been training ourselves that defense wins championships. It’s one of the main priorities for us.”

If Iowa does find its defense, the Hawkeyes and Martin could be in line for a historic season.

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The Hawkeyes last won the Big Ten regular-season title in 2008. They’ll also be aiming for the program’s second-ever Final Four trip and first since 1993.

“We have a target on our backs being a top-10 team in the country right now,” Martin said. “We’re excited to see where we’re going to take our success to this year.

“Everyone is locked in and ready to go. We’re pumped.”


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