Oct. 28, 2010
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ROSEMONT, Ill. — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team is expected to finish second in the Big Ten Conference, a revelation that does little to faze All-American Kachine Alexander.
“If you feel pressure, that tightens up your game,” says the senior from Minneapolis. “You have to let loose, have fun and enjoy the ride.”
Alexander and junior point guard Kamille Wahlin are enjoying a ride into the Big Ten Basketball Media Day on Thursday in the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare.
“We’re picking up where we ended (in 2009-10),” Wahlin said. “We’re able to move along a lot quicker this year and we’re getting better from the end of last year.”
The Hawkeyes finished 20-14 a season ago and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive time. Alexander averaged 16 points and 10.4 rebounds. She has been named to the preseason all-conference first team. Wahlin averaged 14.2 points and 3.2 assists. Alexander, Wahlin and head coach Lisa Bluder attended media day, held in conjunction with the men’s basketball media day. Representing the Hawkeye men were senior Jarryd Cole and head coach Fran McCaffery.
“It’s all preseason trivia, but at the same time it has to change the mentality of our team. Our team is used to sneaking up on people and people taking us lightly. Now you have to live up to it and that’s the most difficult part. We’re excited to begin the year. Our team is ready to put on the uniform and go.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder
“It’s fun to see all the coaches and all the players in a little bit different light than on the court,” Wahlin said. “It’s fun to see everybody and I can’t wait for our first game coming up here in a couple weeks.”
Iowa opens the season Sunday, Nov. 7, with an exhibition against Concordia (Minn.). The Hawkeyes play seven more times in the month of November.
“I’m excited. Before you know it, it’s going to be here,” Alexander said. “When our first game hits Nov. 7, it is full-force go-at-it. You can tell the team is getting so anxious.”
Bluder says her team will need to have a different attitude than in the past now that the Hawkeyes will be viewed as a hunter, rather than the hunted.
“It’s all preseason trivia, but at the same time it has to change the mentality of our team,” Bluder said during her allotted 10-minute press conference. “Our team is used to sneaking up on people and people taking us lightly. Now you have to live up to it and that’s the most difficult part. We’re excited to begin the year. Our team is ready to put on the uniform and go.”
Iowa needs to overcome what Bluder called early “significant injuries” suffered by sophomores Theairra Taylor and Trisha Nesbitt. Taylor torn the ACL on her left knee for a third time and Nesbitt ruptured the plantar fascia in her right foot.
“I feel so bad for Theairra,” Bluder said. “It is tough to come back from three ACLs. In my mind, it’s totally her decision (about playing again). I’m not going to encourage her to come back. If that’s what’s driving her, we would love to have her back.
“We don’t know yet about Trisha’s injury. We’ve heard anywhere from a couple month to six months out with this. That is definitely a blow; she was our backup point guard and a very important person for us on the team.”
Sophomore Jaime Printy will relieve Wahlin at the point and on the good news front, redshirt sophomore Hannah Draxten is playing pain-free following offseason back surgery. She is expected to be a back-up at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions.
The Hawkeyes have won 62 games the past three seasons, but Bluder knows this is a new and different year.
“You have to start all over again,” she said. “You can’t sit back as a coach and think that magic is going to happen again. Our team is not dotted with All-Americans; we’re kind of a blue-collar group that has to work extremely hard and play great team basketball. They all know that and they all understand that.”