Nov. 10, 2010
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – University of Iowa head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder had a simple message for her team during the offseason in preparations for the 2010-11 season. That message was relayed on the back of a t-shirt that was given to every player as a reminder of what to expect when the season rolled around. What was the message? A target placed squarely on the back of the t-shirt.
The Hawkeyes return all but one player from last year’s team that made an amazing run through the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament, finishing 20-14 overall and in third place in the Big Ten. Iowa won nine of its final 12 games, earned a berth in the Big Ten Tournament championship game and defeated Rutgers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual national runner-up Stanford. With nearly everybody back, the Hawkeyes won’t be overlooked this year.
“We are going from the hunters to the hunted,” Bluder said. “We were able to sneak up on a lot of teams last year. We were young and injured. We aren’t going to sneak up on anyone this year. People know our team and we have high expectations. Our team needs to handle having that target on their backs.”
Preseason expectations are abundant in Iowa City. Both the Big Ten coaches and media picked Iowa to finish second in the league behind defending champion Ohio State.
Speaking of preseason expectations, All-American Kachine Alexander has had plenty of praise leading up to her senior campaign. Alexander was a preseason all-Big Ten selection and has been named to the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy watch lists, which are considered the three most prestigious awards in NCAA women’s basketball. After bursting on to the national scene last year by averaging a double-double with 16 points and 10.4 rebounds as a 5-9 guard, Bluder is expecting nothing less from her emotional leader.
“We were able to sneak up on a lot of teams last year. We were young and injured. We aren’t going to sneak up on anyone this year. People know our team and we have high expectations. Our team needs to handle having that target on their backs.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder
“Everyone can see her enthusiasm and excitement,” Bluder said. “What people don’t see is that she brings that same attitude every day in practice. Kachine can control the mood of the team by her enthusiasm. She is so contagious. The points, the rebounds, the defense, people see that in person. They don’t see her value to us every day in the gym.”
Two other players who garnered postseason awards a year ago are also primed for successful seasons. Jaime Printy was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, averaging 14.7 points and four rebounds per game. After a hard summer of training on the defensive side, Bluder is ready for Printy to show fans she has become a complete player.
“Last year, Jaime was a liability on defense,” Bluder said. “She really worked hard in that aspect of her game and now, she is doing really well defensively. That shows you the mindset of Jaime. You show her a weakness and she goes out and improves it.”
Kamille Wahlin returns for her junior season as Iowa’s point guard. Wahlin was a third team all-Big Ten selection last year and averaged 14.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Bluder is glad to have her floor general back leading the team.
“We, as coaches, have a high level of confidence in Kamille,” Bluder said. “She has the green light from pretty much anywhere on the court and she has great judgment. She can stop-and-pop, penetrate and has great range. We are very thankful to have such a talented point guard.”
Junior Kelly Krei showed the Big Ten her talents last year during the league tournament where she lit up Indianapolis en route to an all-tournament team selection. Bluder wants Krei to keep her aggressive attitude during the entire season.
“Kelly was hesitant to be an offensive threat last year and you saw her come out of that shell at the Big Ten Tournament,” Bluder said. “Now she understands that she is expected to be a part of our offense.”
Sophomore Morgan Johnson will be Iowa’s main threat in the paint. The 6-5 center from Platte City, MO, spent extra hours in the weight room to up her physicality.
“Morgan has elevated her game since last year,” Bluder said. “She’s more assertive in the paint and worked really hard in the weight room over the offseason. We are very pleased with Morgan’s progress from her freshman to sophomore year.”
Bluder will have the luxury of calling on Hannah Draxten off the bench after she was sidelined for much of last year with a back injury. Draxten will add another long distance scoring threat for the Hawkeyes.
“It’s great to have Hannah back and pain free,” Bluder said. “She is another deep shooter for us. Hannah will definitely help the team and it’s great to have her back.”
Redshirt sophomore Hannah Draxten is healthy and ready for the 2010-11 season.
Senior Kelsey Cermak, who is team co-captain along with Wahlin, will serve as Iowa’s utility player. Cermak’s unselfishness is exactly why she is a two-time team captain.
“Kelsey plays wherever we need her to,” Bluder said. “She does whatever it takes to make our team better. Kelsey’s leadership is just extraordinary. It has been the last two years.”
Junior Megan Considine also returns after joining the team as a walk-on midway through the season last year. Considine was a gym-rat over the summer and will see minutes off the bench this year.
“Megan came into a unique situation last year,” Bluder said. “Now that she knows the offense and has been around the team, she can help give our guards a break. Megan can give us quality minutes and her hustle is outstanding.”
The injury bug has once again bit the Hawkeyes. Sophomore Theairra Taylor will be sidelined for the year with her third ACL tear in 20 months. Sophomore Trisha Nesbitt is out indefinitely with a foot injury.
“Kalli has three-point range but can also penetrate,” Bluder said. “She is very strong and gives us another dimension on the perimeter.
“We moved Jade to more of a post position during preseason camp,” Bluder said. “She is so strong and is gaining confidence with her back to the basket.”