Opposites Attract

Feb. 24, 2011

PARDON OUR PROGRESS! As friends of the UI and fans of the Hawkeyes know, the UI Athletics Department is well into a multi-million dollar revitalization of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. This important and exciting project has reduced for this season the number of ticket windows that are operational on game nights. Fans attending the home events of the 2010-11 UI men’s basketball, women’s basketball and wrestling teams are invited to avoid game night delays by purchasing their event tickets online or in advance of game day. If your schedule doesn’t allow for an advance purchase, we recommend you consider arriving at the Arena a little earlier than originally planned. Go Hawks!

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kelsey Cermak and Kachine Alexander couldn’t be more opposite. One is vocal, the other is soft-spoken. One wears her emotions on her sleeve, the other has a quiet confidence. But the two opposite personalities combined for one of the most successful four-year stints in recent Iowa women’s basketball memory.

Cermak and Alexander came to Iowa City as freshmen for the 2007-08 season. Entering Thursday’s “Senior Night” contest against Illinois, the two have led Iowa to an 82-43 (.656) record, four-straight 20-win seasons and are on the cusp of four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten regular season championship in 2008, finished second in 2009 and third in 2010.

“To think about what they’ve done over the last four years, four 20-win seasons, on the verge of four NCAA Tournament appearances, that’s tradition,” said Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder. “They’re leaving a legacy behind.”

Alexander spent her four years at Iowa re-writing the school and Big Ten records books. She became the first Big Ten women’s basketball player to record two triple-doubles in the same season when she accomplished the feat as a sophomore. As a senior, Alexander became the first ever Hawkeye, and just the fifth player in Big Ten history, to record 1,000 career points, 800 career rebounds and 300 career assists.

“Nobody can argue with her (Kachine’s) on-court success and what she has accomplished,” said Bluder.

Those accomplishments include being a two-time honorable mention All-American and a two-time all-Big Ten selection, including earning first team honors as a junior.

The other asset Alexander has brought to the table is her energy and passion for the game.

“She also has the gift of enthusiasm,” said Bluder. “She just shines. When she makes a great play and she comes out fist pumping and that big ‘ol smile on her face or yelling, it gets everybody in the gym excited, and it certainly gets her teammates and coaches motivated.”

Cermak’s legacy may not carry record-breaking statistics or a contagious energy, but that doesn’t mean her resume isn’t full of awards. She is a two-time team captain, as voted on by her teammates. She is also two-time Academic all-Big Ten selection and was the recipient of the team’s Dr. Christine Grant Leadership Award.

Bluder wastes no time in recognizing just how important Cermak has been in her four years.

“Kelsey has never really gotten the limelight that Kachine has gotten,” said Bluder. “Kelsey has been very instrumental in our success. She is always the one that’s helping everybody, organizing things, keeping people accountable, motivating others, really just having a servant’s type of attitude towards everybody and that makes the program better. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what Kelsey has done the last four years.”

Bluder’s respect for Kelsey extends to her willingness to play wherever she was needed during her career.

“Kelsey has adapted to anything we’ve given her,” said Bluder. “We’ve told her she’s going to play the three, we’ve told her she’s going to play the four, we’ve told her she’s going to play the five.

“She never even blinked. She doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t back down to any challenge. Whatever we’ve needed from her, she’s responded. It’s just like you’d like all your players to respond to those type of requests. She’s been marvelous with it.”

Even though Cermak and Alexander have opposite personalities, they do agree on a couple things. Both want to add a Big Ten Tournament championship and a deep NCAA Tournament run to their already impressive legacy at Iowa. With the type of leadership the two seniors provide, it’s hard to imagine their senior seasons will be ending anytime soon.