24: Hamlin is a centerpiece

Oct. 28, 2009

24 Hawkeyes to Watch: J. Hamlin

Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Wednesday, Aug. 12, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2009-10 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — JoAnn Hamlin is the centerpiece of a University of Iowa women’s basketball program as it transforms from an experience-dominated group the past two seasons to a go-getting, up-tempo clan that includes nine freshmen and sophomores. Not only will Hamlin slide into the center position when the season opens next Sunday, but she is the lone senior on the roster.

“It’s exciting, but it’s also kind of scary because I don’t have anyone to go to who will have the same feelings,” Hamlin said. “I have two other team captains (juniors Kachine Alexander and Kelsey Cermak) and they’ll do a good job. They’re very mature. I don’t think I’ll have to take a bigger leadership role because it will be more of a collective leadership role.”

Hamlin was a co-captain last season when the Hawkeyes turned in their second consecutive 21-win season that ended with a trip to the NCAA Tournament. During 27 games (including 18 starts), Hamlin averaged 7.6 points and 6.0 rebounds, while shooting 49.1 percent from the field. UI head coach Lisa Bluder knows that Hamlin honed her mentoring abilities as a junior.

“Jo has a lot of responsibility this year,” Bluder said. “She was a captain last year, but it’s a little different ball game when you’re the lone senior. Those are pretty big shoes to fill, but I think she is very excited about the opportunity.”

A native of Douglass, Kan., and a graduate of Winfield High School, Hamlin followed in the footsteps of her older sister Joy, who played volleyball at Kansas State. During her freshman season on the basketball court as a Wildcat, Hamlin started 31 of 33 games, shot 52.5 percent from the field and averaged 10.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Then she opted for a fresh start at Iowa.

“I was attracted by the family orientation of the team,” Hamlin said. “We had players from Michigan, Ohio, Colorado and they’re all far away from home, so you have to build your own family in Iowa. I came on a visit and I really got along with the girls. I enjoyed the coaches and how accepting they were for me to transfer and to make things easy on me.”

“It’s exciting, but it’s also kind of scary because I don’t have anyone to go to who will have the same feelings. I have two other team captains (juniors Kachine Alexander and Kelsey Cermak) and they’ll do a good job. They’re very mature. I don’t think I’ll have to take a bigger leadership role because it will be more of a collective leadership role.”
UI senior JoAnn Hamlin

Bluder is no stranger to taking in transfers. Kristi Faulkner started three seasons for the Hawkeyes (2001-04) after leaving the University of Illinois. As a Hawkeye, Faulkner totaled 1,242 points and helped lead Iowa to 52 victories.

“We’ve had some good success with the few transfers we have had,” Bluder said.

Not only did Hamlin show promise on the court at Kansas State, but Bluder cherished her spirited attitude.

“She is such a competitor and some people underestimate the value of that,” Bluder said. “I don’t care what you’re playing or what you’re competing at, Jo wants to win, she wants to win badly and she doesn’t really care who she knocks over to take that prize. You need to have people with that attitude on your basketball team.”

With Hamlin in the fold the past two seasons, the Hawkeyes have posted back-to-back 21-11 seasons with two trips to the NCAA postseason. Iowa won the Big Ten Conference regular-season championship in 2008. Last season Hamlin led the team in field goal percentage (83 of 169) and was second with 23 blocked shots. She posted four double-doubles in points and rebounds — all Hawkeye victories. During an 83-58 win over Boston University on Nov. 22, Hamlin had 14 points and 10 rebounds. She scored 18 points with 10 rebounds during a 66-46 rout of Iowa State on Dec. 7. Against Wisconsin in Madison on Dec. 22 — a 73-63 win by Iowa — Hamlin compiled 10 points and 10 rebounds. She played a season-high 36 minutes against Minnesota on Jan. 11, scoring a season-high 21 points with 10 rebounds in a 74-57 victory. She pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds against South Florida on Nov. 28 in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

Because of graduation attrition, Hamlin is slated to move her 6-foot-3 frame into the post this season after playing primarily power forward a year ago.

“Jo isn’t the tallest player on the floor, but she’s strong and she takes up a lot of room,” Bluder said. “She has wide shoulders and she knows how to take up space in the post area. She is not intimidated about guarding somebody who is bigger than her and she has the mental toughness.”

“I’m probably underweight and shorter than most of the posts in the Big Ten, but there are positives about that,” Hamlin said. “The whole banging, wear-and-tear might be a little more difficult, but I will also be quicker.”

Quickness could be a recurring theme for the Hawkeyes, who are ready to challenge anyone to a coast-to-coast confrontation in 2009-10.

“We’re going to play more of a fast-paced game, which I think the fans like to watch,” Hamlin said. “We’ll be more run-and-gun, transition, and hopefully a lot more layups. I like to run the court. It will be a lot of fun — it’s a lot easier to score layups than it is to bang in the post.”

Bluder confirmed the adjustment in style.

“We’re going to be a little more perimeter-oriented,” she said. “We can also be a little more full-court as far as defensive pressure. Our team is excited about both of these changes.”

Hamlin will receive a degree in health and sports studies in December. She can then spend the spring semester fulfilling requirements to become a basketball coach.

“I have wanted to do college coaching and I think I have some good contacts,” Hamlin said.

Indeed. She has a first-class coaching role model in Bluder, who in nine seasons at Iowa has compiled a record of 169-109 with six appearances in the NCAA Tournament and two in the WNIT.

“If I ever need anything I can call coach Bluder anytime — cell phone or at home,” Hamlin said. “If I ever needed somebody to help me out with anything I could definitely call her.”


2005-06 * 33-31 139-265 .525 0-2 .000 52-77 .675 152 4.6 22 330 10.0
2006-07 32-1 44-95 .463 6-9 .667 23-33 .697 98 3.1 23 117 3.7
2007-08 27-18 83-169 .491 1-7 .143 37-54 .685 162 6.0 23 204 7.6
Totals 92-50 266-529 .503 7-18 .389 112-164 .683 412 4.5 68 651 7.1

* at Kansas State University