Oct. 29, 2009
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CHICAGO — The number five must hold some sort of significance for the 2009-10 University of Iowa women’s basketball team. The Hawkeyes graduated five seniors, gained five incoming freshmen, and were picked to finish fifth in the Big Ten Conference by both the league coaches and media at the annual Big Ten Basketball Media Day on Thursday in Chicago.
UI head coach Lisa Bluder’s young squad was picked ahead of Illinois, Wisconsin, Penn State, Indiana, Northwestern and Michigan. Ohio State was chosen as the favorite by both the coaches and the media, with Michigan State coming in second. The coaches selected Minnesota third and Purdue fourth, while the media had the Boilermakers taking the third spot and the Golden Gophers at No. 4.
“I think Ohio State is a logical choice,” Bluder said. “They’ve done a tremendous job. Why wouldn’t you pick them to win it all? I think the same thing with Michigan State. Why wouldn’t you pick them?”
For the 2009-10 Hawkeyes, Bluder still intends to be a team known for using outside shooting to open up the inside.
“Right now our three-point shooting is unproven, but it’s there,” Bluder said. “It’s not like it’s nonexistent. We do have good three-point shooters on our team, so I think that we’ll still have that same type of identity.”
“I’m really ready to get things going,” Hamlin said. “We have been working very hard in practice, and are ready to see the returns on the court.”
Alexander, who was a second team all-Big Ten selection a year ago, has been working hard on her outside shot in the offseason to become a more complete player.
“That’s the one thing that I knew I needed to work on,” Alexander said. “My shot wasn’t where it needed to be, and I’ve been working really hard on it. It’s something I can do to help the team.”
Even with the returning talent, youth will be abundant on the court for the Hawkeyes. Iowa has a total nine underclassmen (five freshmen and four sophomores) that will look to make an immediate impact.
“We have a brand new team,” Bluder said. “I was sitting her listening to (Indiana head coach) Felisha (Legette-Jack) talk and she talked about having the youngest team in America. I think we might have a challenge here. We have one of the younger teams, especially competing against the Big Ten Conference this year.”
The Big Ten looks to be as tough as ever in 2009-10. Both Ohio State and Michigan State made runs to the Sweet 16 last season in the NCAA tournament, while Purdue made it all the way to the Elite Eight. Minnesota, along with Iowa, was also selected for the NCAA tournament.
Ohio State All-American Jantel Lavender was selected as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year. Joining her on the Preseason all-Big Ten team were All-American Jenna Smith from Illinois, Michigan State’s Allyssa DeHaan, Ohio State guard Samantha Prahalis and Penn State’s Tyra Grant. Four of the five players selected preseason all-Big Ten are also on both the Wade and Wooden award watch lists (Lavender, DeHaan, Smith and Grant).
“This is going to be an extremely tough, competitive conference,” Bluder said.