Iowa Women’s Basketball Bucks Trend of Roster Turnover in Modern College Landscape

Iowa women's basketball roster turnover

IOWA CITY — In a thrilling showdown against West Virginia, Iowa’s starting lineup remained unchanged from tip-off to the final buzzer.

Caitlin Clark. Kate Martin. Gabbie Marshall. Hannah Stuelke. And Sydney Affolter.

This quintet sealed Iowa’s hard-fought 64-54 victory over West Virginia, securing the team’s spot in the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years.

But zoom out for a moment.

Martin entered college basketball in 2018, Marshall in 2019, Clark in 2020, Affolter in 2021, and Stuelke in 2022.

Together, these five players boast over 600 appearances on the college court.

And what’s remarkable?

Every single one of those games has been donning Iowa’s colors.

This narrative extends across Iowa’s entire roster.

Except for two players, Molly Davis (formerly of Central Michigan) and Kylie Feuerbach (formerly of Iowa State), who transferred in, every member of the team began their collegiate journey at Iowa.

This stands in stark contrast to the prevailing trend in college athletics. The transfer portal has reshaped the landscape, turning college sports into a transient realm where multi-year commitments are increasingly rare.

Yet, Iowa remains an anomaly. The program not only attracts but retains talent—a challenging feat in today’s environment.

And the results speak volumes.

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With a stellar record of 31-4 this season, including a Big Ten Tournament championship and a coveted No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Coach Lisa Bluder’s squad is proving that stability breeds success.

“We don’t feel the need to bring in a multitude of new faces because we have such a strong core that stays,” remarked Caitlin Clark. “Players here understand the unique environment and opportunities Iowa offers.”

In Monday’s game, only four players scored for Iowa. Clark led the charge with 32 points, supported by Affolter with 13, Stuelke with 12, and Martin with seven—all products of Iowa’s program from day one.

In contrast, West Virginia’s roster exemplifies the modern collegiate model, with most players arriving via transfers from other programs.

Associate head coach Jan Jensen elaborated on Iowa’s philosophy, emphasizing the value of nurturing long-term relationships with players and investing in their development rather than relying heavily on the transfer portal.

Sydney Affolter epitomizes the success of Iowa’s approach. Despite a modest start to her collegiate career, she has blossomed into a key contributor, exemplifying loyalty and patience.

As Iowa pursues a national title this season, their steadfastness amidst a shifting landscape is a testament to their culture and commitment to excellence.

Affolter’s sentiment rings true: while other pastures may seem enticing, the verdant fields of Iowa hold unparalleled promise and fulfillment.

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