Nov. 11, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — This time of year in women’s basketball typically means excitement, not tears. At the University of Iowa there is still excitement, but unfortunately, there is also a whole lot of hurt.
Senior JoAnn Hamlin — the only senior on the team — has been hospitalized since Sunday with a blood clot in her right leg. UI head coach Lisa Bluder said the ailment could keep Hamlin from ever playing basketball again.
“It stretches from her upper leg to her calf,” Bluder said Wednesday at a previously-scheduled press conference. “It’s pretty serious, pretty significant.”
Bluder said the clot “could be” life-threatening.
The medical report was also unkind to sophomore forward Hannah Draxten, who will see a specialist today for a bulging disc in her back. She will be off the court for at least a week.
“We’ve lost two starters in the course of a couple days,” Bluder said. “It’s a tough blow for our team, especially going into this tough stretch we have to begin the year.”
The Hawkeyes open the season with the KCRG-TV Hawkeye Challenge on Nov. 14-15 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa plays Santa Clara at 12 p.m. on Saturday and either Illinois State or UCLA on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Hawkeyes also host Kansas on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
“It’s a busy week and unfortunately, we’re not very healthy to begin this stretch of our season,” Bluder said.
Two freshmen will replace Hamlin and Draxten in the starting lineup. Morgan Johnson will take over for Hamlin at center and Jaime Printy will sub for Draxten at small forward. Bluder cited Johnson and Printy for playing well during an 88-60 exhibition victory against Washburn (Kan.) on Nov. 8. Johnson scored eight points with seven rebounds and six blocked shots; Printy added eight points with six assists.
“I thought they did very well,” Bluder said. “Morgan and Jaime especially played very well. I thought those two for sure did a very nice job.”
Johnson said “the bad definitely outweighs the good,” referring to the injury to Hamlin. Nonetheless, she is preparing to start her first collegiate game Saturday.
“I’ll come in and do what I can do,” Johnson said. “I’ll play my type of game and do what Coach needs me to do, which is to fill in right now. It’s a major blow to our team and to myself. (Hamlin) was a great mentor for me. Everything I’ve learned so far from her I can apply it to what I need to do from here on out.”
The Santa Clara opener was supposed to be the unveiling of freshman Theairra Taylor, who appears healthy after ACL repair. Taylor wasn’t immune to the training room on Wednesday, either. According to Bluder, Taylor was “clocked good today and she couldn’t finish practice.”
Bluder said that Taylor’s knee is cleared for competition and she is hopeful that Taylor will be ready against the Broncos.
The Hawkeye starting lineup against Santa Clara will be sophomore Kamille Wahlin and junior Kachine Alexander at guard, sophomore Kelly Krei and Printy at forward and Johnson at center. Johnson is backed up in the post by another freshman, Gabby Machado.
“Obviously it’s intensified a little bit on our needs for those (freshmen) kids to step up and play,” Bluder said. “That’s asking a lot for freshmen to do, but it’s what we’re going to have to ask.”
One of the most positive notes of the day was the signing of Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kennedy star Jade Rogers, Rogers, the step-daughter of former Hawkeye men’s basketball player James Moses, overcame an ACL injury to average 17.9 points and 10.6 rebounds last season for the Cougars.
“She’s a nice, versatile player who can shoot the three and post up,” Bluder said. “She’s a kid that loves the Hawkeyes and wants to be here, so that’s a great situation. We’re happy to sign Jade this morning.”