Feb. 18, 2010
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By Richie Zawistowski
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When the University of Iowa hosts Minnesota in women’s basketball Thursday, a Minnesotan will be wearing Hawkeye black and gold.
Kamille Wahlin, a native of Crookston, Minn., grew up in the Gopher state playing basketball with her younger brother and father.
“I started playing when I was really little, maybe four or five,” Wahlin said. ” I always played with my brother and dad in the backyard, and it’s always been my favorite.”
Wahlin will be playing against her native state for the second time this season, after a nail-biting overtime game back on Jan. 3.
One of the best playmakers on the team, Wahlin has made 62 3-point field goals this season, tied with Wendy Ausdemore for the most 3-pointers made by a UI sophomore. However, Wahlin is more than just a scorer, as her 71 assists are the second most on the team.
Wahlin often plays point guard on the court. The point guard — at times referred to as a “floor general” due to their control over the offense — is one of the most important positions on the floor, and viewed as the “quarterback” of a basketball team.
While just a sophomore, the young guard is a key leader on a young UI women’s basketball team. After seeing extensive playing time as a freshman, Wahlin thinks that her experience last season has helped her be a leader to the several young players on the Hawkeye squad.
“It’s one of the thing that’s talked about is how young we are and who the leaders are,” said Wahlin. “Like I’ve said all along, I’ve learned a lot from the seniors last year and their leadership, I just hope that I’ve been able to help the freshmen in adjusting, and I was there last year so I know what they’re going through.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder sees Wahlin as a leader as well.
“Kamille had so much experience last year as just a freshmen,” said Bluder, “It’s hard to believe that she’s a sophomore this year. She’s a leader by example, she’s not the emotional type, but she’s a definitely a leader by the way that she plays the game.”
Being a leader is more than just playing well though. It is a key element, as there aren’t too many leaders in athletics that ride the bench, but it is based on more than just performance. If it were that easy, every player who performs well would be a leader.
“I just try and do the best job that I can to keep everyone calm and composed on the court so we don’t get too rattled. I try to keep everyone controlled.”
“I just try and do the best job that I can to keep everyone calm and composed on the court so we don’t get too rattled,” said Wahlin. “I try to keep everyone controlled.”
That is exactly what coaches and fans want to hear from a leader on a team, but more specifically from the point-guard position. Bluder also likes what she sees from Wahlin on the floor.
“Kamille has a very aware sense about her, a very even keel,” said Bluder. “She doesn’t get overly emotional out there, and stay’s calm. She just has this sense on the basketball court that can’t be taught.”
This allows Wahlin to be both a playmaker while scoring, yet also be a playmaker passing the ball too. It is critical for Wahlin to find a balance between scoring and setting her teammates up to score, and she does a great job of doing both.
“Our offense is made for a lot of motion,” said Wahlin. “We have a lot of freedom to create things, so I just try to read the defense the best that I can. If I have a shot I’ll take it, and if I see one of my teammates open I try to get it to them the best that I can.”
Bluder has the utmost confidence in Wahlin, be it scoring, or as an assister, as the coach gives Wahlin the “thumbs-up” throughout the course of a game.
“We have a lot of confidence in Kamille,” said Bluder. “You hear about players having the green light, and she has that. Not only with her shots, but she does a great job of finding others, and she has that ability to pull a shot from her hat so to speak.”
While some players will rely on set plays to score points, Wahlin’s athleticism allows her to create her own shot, whether it be off-the-dribble, or a set-shot from way beyond the arc — Wahlin’s specialty.
Wahlin is always looking to improve though, as they say great players are never complacent.
“My ball-handling can get better,” said Wahlin, “I can always get more complete in my ball-handling and taking care of it. Also my decision making and lessening my turnovers could improve too.”
Having a leader that is looking to improve sets the tone for the younger players on the team. Learning from Wahlin has helped freshman and co-point guard Jaime Printy have a fabulous freshman campaign.
However, while Wahlin is constantly looking to improve her individual game, she is more concerned with the results of the team, not her own.
“Our goal is to finish the year strong so we have a chance to get in the NCAA tournament,” Wahlin said. “Also going as far as we can in the Big Ten tournament and hopefully getting in the Big Ten tournament.”
The Hawkeyes must like their chances of doing so with the play of Wahlin.