Sept. 29, 2003
One of the major goals Coach Lisa Bluder and the Iowa women’s basketball team have set for the 2003-04 season is a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. Last year’s youthful squad included nine underclassmen, finished the season with an 18-15 mark and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
“It’s very important that we return to the NCAA Tournament,” said Bluder. “The NCAA Tournament isn’t something that we hope to make but something that we know we’re going to make. That is the type of mentality we want to instill in our players.”
As experience was one of Iowa’s weaknesses last season, it can be viewed as one of its strengths this year. The Hawkeyes return 11 letterwinners, including three starters.
Much of Iowa’s success last season can be attributed to its two leading scorers: Kristi Faulkner and Jennie Lillis. Both return for their senior season with much expected of both.
Faulkner and Lillis are two of the conference’s top returning players. Last season, Faulkner (539) and Lillis (537) became the first and only Iowa duo to amass 500 points or more in the same season. Lillis was a first team all-Big Ten selection, while Faulkner was named to the third team.
Season, single-game and group tickets for the home games of Bluder’s 2003-04 squad are on sale. Fans of the Hawkeyes can purchase theirs online at hawkeyesports.com, via the phone at 1-800 IA-HAWKS, or in person at the Athletic Ticket Office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Lillis, a two-time all-Big Ten selection, is one of the conference’s most explosive threats both offensively and defensively. The native of Urbandale, IA, tallied nine double-doubles last year, which ranked second in the Big Ten. Defensively, she ranked fifth in rebounding (7.2 rpg) and 11th in steals (2.00 spg).
After doing a great job as Iowa’s point guard her sophomore season, Faulkner enjoyed an even better year last year when she moved to the shooting guard position. As Iowa’s leading scorer, Faulkner scored in double figures in all but four games. Furthermore, she collected 20 points or more 11 times, including scoring a career-high 29 points twice.
Bluder believes this year’s senior class of Faulkner, Lillis and Becca McCann is a special one.
“We have a fabulous senior class and I think senior leadership is probably one of the most important ingredients of a successful team,” explained Bluder. “All three have demonstrated tremendous leadership their first three years and they are really excited about taking on the added responsibility of being senior leaders.”
Other key players returning include sophomores Lindsay Richards, Johanna Solverson and Morgan Kasperek and junior Jamie Cavey.
After suffering a season-ending knee injury in only her eighth collegiate game, point guard Lindsay Richards is ready to take over as the Hawkeyes’ floor general.
“Lindsay recovered from her knee injury quicker and better than anybody thought,” said Bluder. “She runs the team very well and I know she’s anxious to return.”
Johanna Solverson returns for her sophomore campaign after seeing extensive playing time her freshman season. Solverson started 27 games at the small forward position, averaged 8.6 ppg and 4.1 rpg and was named to the all-Big Ten Freshman Team.
Junior Jamie Cavey surprised many with her improved play near the end of last season. The 6-3 center averaged 8.8 ppg and 4.1 rpg in Iowa’s last nine games. Cavey’s spirited play down the stretch showed the coaches that she really wants the starting nod at center. According to Bluder, Cavey will be fighting McCann and Kasperek for the starting spot.
“We need to find someone who will compliment Lillis in the post,” said Bluder. “Jamie really showed signs of laying claim to that spot at the end of last year. But at the same time, I think Morgan and Becca had an excellent spring while Jamie was out with an ankle injury.”
Bluder expects sophomores Tiffany Reedy and Crystal Smith to be so much more prepared for this season after solid freshman campaigns. With two years of playing experience under the belts of juniors Jenna Armstrong and Lindsay Geoffroy, the Hawkeyes boast one the Big Ten’s deepest benches.
“We have a fabulous senior class and I think senior leadership is probably one of the most important ingredients of a successful team. All three have demonstrated tremendous leadership their first three years and they are really excited about taking on the added responsibility of being senior leaders.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder
Along with 11 experienced Hawkeyes returning, Iowa adds another talented player to its roster in freshman Deb Remmerde. Remmerde joins the Hawkeyes after an illustrious prep career that included becoming the Iowa high school career scoring leader.
“Deb is an incredible player,” explained Bluder. “She’s the type of person who enjoys spending five hours a day shooting baskets. She’s a much better ball handler and passer than people realize and will be a great addition to our team.”
Besides its demanding Big Ten conference schedule, Iowa fans can get excited about five attractive non-conference home match-ups. The Hawkeyes will host the annual KCRG-TV 9 Hawkeye Challenge and also play Drake, Creighton and Kansas State in the friendly confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“We have another competitive schedule,” commented Bluder. “Coupled with another tough Big Ten schedule, we have a challenging and exciting non-conference slate for both our players and fans.”
Iowa begins this season with 498 career wins and could capture win No. 500 in the championship game of the KCRG-TV 9 Hawkeye Challenge on Nov. 22.