Oct. 17, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s the yin and the yang when it comes to the University of Iowa women’s basketball team. The Hawkeyes will be both young and experienced during the 2011-12 season.
On one hand, Iowa returns four starters and nine letterwinners. On the other hand, the Hawkeyes have five freshmen.
“Everybody says, `oh my gosh, you lost Kachine (Alexander),’ but we return four starters,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder at the team’s media day press conference Monday in the Feller Club Room inside the Dale and Marilyn Howard Family Pavilion. “Then you think, okay, they’re a real veteran team, but we have five freshmen on this team. That’s a lot of freshmen, but then you think of those freshmen, and they’re pretty good.”
The Hawkeye returnees are experienced. Seniors Kamille Wahlin and Kelly Krei have led Iowa to 63 wins and three NCAA Tournament berths in their first three seasons. Juniors Jaime Printy and Morgan Johnson have been starters since stepping foot on campus in 2009.
“When I go to practice every day, I go with Kamille Wahlin, who I think is the most experienced point guard in the Big Ten,” said Bluder, who has guided the Hawkeyes to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. “There’s nobody I’d rather have leading our basketball team than Kamille Wahlin.”
“We have so much to be excited about with this season. We’re going for our fifth straight 20-win season and our fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. We return four starters, we have the 11th best recruiting class in the nation. We have a new practice facility, we have a new locker room, we have the revitalized Carver-Hawkeye Arena. This team is ready to go.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder
Printy was named to the “Wade Watch” and Wooden Award Watch lists, which are two of the most prestigious awards in women’s college basketball. The junior guard is coming off of a season where she led the team in scoring (16.8 points) and became the first player in school history to reach the 1,000-point milestone as a sophomore.
“Jaime has really worked hard on her all-around game,” said Bluder. “She’s not just a 3-point shooter. We all know she can penetrate, get to the rim and score on free throws. I think Jaime has improved since she’s been here. We’re happy with where she’s at, but there’s always room for improvement.”
Bluder credits the team’s summer trip in helping bring along its five-player freshmen class.
“I’m more confident because of our foreign trip,” said Bluder. “I think with that foreign trip, we got those 10 extra practices, which could not have come at a better time. Right now around the country, those freshmen are just trying to figure that out. Ours figured it out this summer and that gives them a big head start.”
One of the newcomers expected to make an immediate impact is Samantha Logic. The 5-foot-9 guard was a McDonald’s All-American at Racine J.I. High School in Wisconsin. She is the third McDonald’s All-America recruit in the Bluder era.
“We’re still kind of playing with Samantha’s role,” said Bluder. “I know she’s going to be on the court a lot, but she could play a variety of positions. This year with Kamille, we quite honestly don’t need her at the point guard, but we need her on the floor, so we’ve got to find a place to have her on the floor. This summer she started at the three, and Sam can play the one, two, three or four.”
With a deeper team, Bluder expects the Hawkeyes to experiment with their offensive and defensive schemes.
“We have 12 healthy players right now, and I don’t remember the last time we’ve been able to say that,” said Bluder. “It does enable us to do two things: one is to be able to pick up a little bit more pressure in the full court and also be a little bit more up tempo.”
The Hawkeyes look to a collection of players to fill the leadership void created by the graduation of Kachine Alexander.
“I would say it is more leadership by committee, and I think the thing we miss Kachine most is the fire she brings, the enthusiasm she brings,” said Bluder. “We don’t have that person on the floor that really just gets everybody excited. Morgan Johnson is probably our best.
“It’s going to have to be just like the rebounds, not one person is going to take all those rebounds that Kachine had. It’s going to have to be a group effort, and I think it’s the same thing with that fire.”
The Hawkeyes get their season underway by hosting an exhibition game against Winona State on Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. Iowa officially opens its regular season Nov. 12, hosting Harvard in the Hawkeye Challenge.