Cavey to Lead Hawks in Senior Year

Aug. 26, 2004

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After competing in four consecutive post-season tournaments and finishing in the Big Ten’s first-division three-of-four years, more of the same is expected in 2004-05. Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder and her staff welcome the return of seven experienced letterwinners and four freshmen. Last season, Iowa recorded a 16-13 overall record and an impressive 10-6 mark in Big Ten action. The Hawkeyes came on strong down the stretch winning four of their final six regular season contests. The team received a berth to the NCAA Championship, its 15th overall. One of the keys to success last season was Iowa’s performance on the road. The Hawkeyes learned to win away from Iowa City, collecting an 8-6 mark, including five of the last six. The eight road victories were most by an Iowa team since 1993-94 (9-5). The Hawkeyes lose four letterwinners, including starters Jennie Lillis and Kristi Faulkner. Lillis was a two-time first-team all-Big Ten performer, while Faulkner was a two-time third team honoree. The Hawkeyes also lost Becca McCann to graduation and Lindsay Geoffroy to medical hardship. The returning starters are senior Jamie Cavey (16.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and juniors Johanna Solverson (5.6 ppg, 6.2) and Lindsay Richards (5.4 ppg, 2.9 apg). Although Richards is Iowa’s returning point guard, she suffered her second torn anterior cruciate ligament in as many years while practicing with the Big Ten All-Star Team in June and will start the season on the sidelines. The Iowa coaching staff expects another full recovery and hopes for her return in January. “It was incredibly unfortunate that Lindsay re-injured her knee, said Bluder. “Her confidence was growing as our starting point guard and you could see her mature on the court.” Richards started all 29 games last season, ranking fifth on the team in scoring (5.4 ppg) and free throw percentage (39-51, .765), second in assists (85) and fourth in steals (27). Her 2.93 assists average ranked 11th in the Big Ten. Richards was also an academic all-Big Ten selection last year. Before injuring her knee as a freshman, she played in eight games as a reserve, averaging 4.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg and dishing out 29 assists.

“It was incredibly unfortunate that Lindsay re-injured her knee. Her confidence was growing as our starting point guard and you could see her mature on the court.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder

Filling the void left at the point will be freshman Abby Emmert and junior Crystal Smith. Bluder expects the duo to share time. Bluder admits that it will be a difficult adjustment for Emmert to lead the Hawkeye offense as a freshman, but that she has the skills and talent to be successful. “Abby has been around basketball her whole life. She’s a good passer, has a good pull-up game and has great leadership potential.” Smith (3.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg) has become a fan favorite in Iowa City due to her work ethic and defensive brilliance. A team tri-captain this year, Smith has worked on her offensive skills over the summer and is expected to have a huge impact on Iowa’s success. Smith will see most of her time at the off-guard position, but will defend the opposition’s point guard. The native of Haughton, LA, saw her minutes increase last season and was Iowa’s first guard off the bench. Smith ranked eighth in conference steals (1.94), which was the highest ranking among non-starters. The junior tallied two or more steals in 14 games, including 10 steals (five in each game) in two games against NCAA Final Four participant Minnesota. “It’s going to be necessary for Crystal to have a more offensive role this season,” explained Bluder. “For us to be successful we need an outside threat. We definitely need more offense from the perimeter and I think Crystal can do that for us. She’s been focused more on defense the last couple of years. Crystal’s a spark on our defense. For some players defense is work, but for Crystal it’s a joy. It is something she really enjoys. Crystal gets a lot of confidence out of frustrating her opponent. She takes her defense seriously and I hope that rubs off on other players.” Senior tri-captain Jamie Cavey will be the centerpiece of Iowa’s offensive attack. The junior from Mechanicsville, IA, had a breakout season last year and developed into one of the league’s premiere post players. Cavey became the first Iowa center to lead the team in scoring (16.8 ppg) since Amy Herrig paced the Hawkeyes during the 1998-99 season. “Jamie’s improvement has been nothing short of miraculous,” said Bluder. “It’s been wonderful to watch her development from a bench player to one of the top centers in the Big Ten. It’s been fun to watch her development, not only as a player but also her confidence, work ethic and leadership. It feels good going into the season knowing that you have a proven talent at center.” Last season, Cavey matured into a dominate force in the paint. As a third team all-conference selection, she led Iowa in scoring 14 times and finished the season ranked first in scoring (16.8), field goal percentage (190-338, .562), free throws made (107) and attempted (141) and third in rebounding (4.8). Cavey ranked sixth in conference scoring and fourth in field goal percentage and 15th in free throw percentage. In addition, she improved her free throw shooting 23.1 percent from her sophomore to junior year. “Jamie benefited from having Jennie Lillis as a teammate for three years,” commented Bluder. “Jennie constantly fed her positive vibes and told her how good she could be. I think she not only learned how to work hard and improve her confidence, but she also learned how to be a leader. She also has benefited from having a great strength and conditioning coach in Bill Maxwell. Additionally, Coach Jan Jensen does a terrific job working with our post players, teaching them post foot work and giving them a lot of repetition.”

“Jamie’s improvement has been nothing short of miraculous. It’s been wonderful to watch her development from a bench player to one of the top centers in the Big Ten. It’s been fun to watch her development, not only as a player but also her confidence, work ethic and leadership. It feels good going into the season knowing that you have a proven talent at center.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder

Other returnees include Solverson, Tiffany Reedy, Jenna Armstrong and Morgan Kasperek. Solverson, who started at small forward last year, was Iowa’s second leading rebounder, pulling down 5.2 boards per game. One of the most versatile athletes in the Big Ten, Solverson may see time at both forward positions this season. “My goal is to have the five best players on the floor at one time, and if that means moving Johanna to power forward, that’s what we’ll do,” explained Bluder. “I think her versatility is a good thing that poses problems to opponents. When she plays at the four she’ll have a little more quickness than her opponent.” Reedy, a team tri-captain, has seen her game improve the last two seasons and will be asked to provide team leadership on and off the court. The native of Dysart, IA, averaged 4.4 ppg and 3.2 rpg as the first forward off the bench last year. “I hope Tiffany will have a breakout year like Jamie did last year,” said Bluder. “It seems like every year we’ve had a player that has a breakout year. I think her confidence has grown enormously since her freshman year. She is a good leader and has a very strong work ethic.” Armstrong and Kasperek are two more returnees that have playing experience and are primed for a breakout season. Armstrong ranked second on the squad in 3-point percentage (10-26, .385), while Kasperek came off the bench and provided quality minutes in the post. “I think Jenna and Morgan’s experience will help them this year,” commented Bluder. “They’ve been there, they know what’s expected. They have that asset of playing and practice experience. Jenna can make a big difference in our team if her outside shooting becomes consistent. Morgan sees an opportunity with the departure of Lillis and McCann. When I look at our team I see a lot of question marks. A number of those question marks could become impact players for us this year. We have a lot of potential, but its unproven potential.” Last season Iowa had three players average in double figures (Cavey, 16.8; Faulkner, 16.2; Lillis, 16.0). It marked the first time in Iowa history that a trio of players scored 450 points or more in a single season (Cavey, 487; Faulkner, 469; Lillis, 463). Bluder sees this year’s group of Hawkeyes having more balanced scoring up and down the lineup. Defensively, the Hawkeyes will likely play more zone than in the past. “We are going to be a more post-oriented team this year,” admits Bluder. “I think that’s feasible but you still need to have contributions from the perimeter. A large portion of our offense will come from the post because that’s where we have the most depth and experience. Some younger players may be asked to come in and contribute right away, which is not an ideal situation. I do feel we have some exceptional talent coming into our program.”

Crystal Davis will be filling the void at point guard

In addition to Emmert, Iowa’s other talented freshmen class includes Krista Vande Venter, Stacy Schlapkohl and Jeneé Graham. Vande Venter, a 6-2 power forward from Osseo, MN, was runner-up Miss Minnesota Basketball last year. According to Bluder, she’s a very good offensive player with a nice jump shot, post moves, she runs the floor extremely well, and is a terrific rebounder. Schlapkohl, a 6-3 power forward from Durant, IA, is another versatile post player. She has great foot work, scores mostly around the basket, rebounds well and has great hands. Bluder believes she’ll emerge into a tremendous post player. Graham, a 5-10 small forward from Bolingbrook, IL, will help the team defensively. According to Bluder, her strengths are rebounding and defense. “I think our freshmen will come in and contribute right away and, technically, that’s something you don’t want to happen,” admits Bluder. “You want to have a program where you’re not counting on freshmen. Not having a sophomore class has changed our outlook a little.” Iowa’s schedule looks to be just as challenging as last season’s 14th-ranked schedule. The Hawkeyes have the potential to play 11 teams that competed in 2004 post-season tournaments, including five from the Big Ten conference that participated in the NCAA Championship. In addition to its demanding Big Ten slate, Iowa fans can get excited about six attractive non-conference home match-ups. For the third consecutive season, Iowa will tip-off the season with the annual KCRG TV-9 Hawkeye Challenge that includes Missouri, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois. The Hawkeyes will also host Marquette, Western Illinois and in-state rivals Iowa State and Drake. Iowa’s difficult schedule also includes its first-ever trip to the Bahamas. The Hawkeyes will play in the Junkanoo Jam that includes Akron and NCAA participants Florida and Oklahoma. “Overall, I think our schedule is just as difficult as last season,” said Bluder. “Again we’re playing Iowa State, Drake, Creighton, Northern Iowa and Marquette and we’ve added the Bahamas tournament, Florida and possibly Oklahoma – both very good basketball teams. There’s a possibility that our schedule will be just as good, if not better than last year.” Bluder’s philosophy has been to challenge her teams with tough opponents. “Your record may not look as glamorous at the end of the year, but at least the NCAA selection committee recognized us last year,” commented Bluder. “We were the team in the NCAA Tournament with the least amount of victories, but we were there. As long as the committee continues to reward teams that are making an effort to play against the best we are going to continue scheduling them. “The tough non-conference schedule helps us prepare for a difficult conference slate,” concluded Bluder. “I think one of the reasons we finished fourth in the Big Ten last year was because of our tough non-conference schedule.”

“I feel like the conference is going to have incredible balance. Even though the Big Ten lost a lot of individual stars, the league will still be tremendous. I can very easily see the league having five teams in the top 25.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder

The Big Ten portion of the schedule includes single games with Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Purdue, with the Lady Lions and Badgers playing in Iowa City. One of the most decorated Big Ten senior classes has graduated, but Bluder still views the conference as extremely strong and one of the toughest and deepest in the country. “I feel like the conference is going to have incredible balance. Even though the Big Ten lost a lot of individual stars, the league will still be tremendous. I can very easily see the league having five teams in the top 25.”