2011-12 Season Preview

Oct. 26, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — With four starters returning from a team that finished 22-9 overall and made its fourth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, the 2011-12 University of Iowa women’s basketball team is poised for another successful season. Head coach Lisa Bluder has a roster of seven returning players, coupled with an incoming freshman class that was ranked No. 11 by ESPNHoopGurlz.com.

Most preseason questions revolve around replacing Kachine Alexander, who graduated as one of the most decorated Hawkeyes in school history. Alexander was a four-time honorable mention All-American who was known for her eye-popping rebounding and scoring figures.

Bluder said Alexander will be missed, but the current squad has the talent to contend for a Big Ten championship and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

“Some of the outside expectations are that we will be a little down this year because of losing Kachine,” Bluder said. “But we have four starters coming back who are extremely talented. Most people across the country would be thrilled to have four starters returning. We are sitting in a great situation.”

Two of Iowa’s returning starters could be the most exciting guard duo in the Big Ten. Senior point guard Kamille Wahlin and junior shooting guard Jaime Printy are both prolific scorers who bring accolades from the previous season.

Wahlin was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick last season and was named a team captain for her senior season. Printy was an honorable mention All-American and second-team All-Big Ten pick as a junior.

“They are an amazing duo,” Bluder said. “They like working together and being on the court together. They have a connection on the floor after playing together for two years, and it’s really fun to watch.

“I think Kamille is one of the most experienced point guards in the Big Ten. I love having her lead our team. She’s such a competitor and has assumed that leadership role.

“Jaime has continued to work on her overall game. She’s not just a 3-point specialist. She attacks off the dribble, accepts contact in the lane, and can make great passes. She has also worked hard on her defense and understands the value of playing good defense.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder

“Jaime has continued to work on her overall game. She’s not just a 3-point specialist. She attacks off the dribble, accepts contact in the lane, and can make great passes. She has also worked hard on her defense and understands the value of playing good defense.”

Kelly Krei returns for her senior season and was also named a team captain. Krei has been a two-year starter for the Hawkeyes and has taken a new mental approach to her final season.

“Kelly is a changed person as a senior,” Bluder said. “She has a different attitude this year and is playing with a sense of urgency. She knows it’s her senior year and is trying to end her career in the best possible way. Kelly has more confidence and that’s a good thing for her.”

Kelly Krei is one of four starters returning for 2012.

Iowa will have a familiar face at post in junior Morgan Johnson. Johnson has been Iowa’s starting center since her freshman campaign.

“Morgan gives us a lot of experience inside,” Bluder said. “She has been starting for two years and has seen a lot of time on the court. She’s really become more vocal on the floor and is demanding the ball. Morgan has become much more assertive this year.”

Another senior returning for Iowa is Kalli Hansen. The junior college transfer transitioned into Division I basketball last year, and Bluder has seen big improvements in Hansen’s game.

“Kalli has made the biggest jump in her game out of anyone on our roster,” Bluder said. “Last year she was a junior college transfer who was settling in to our system. Now she understands our system and is playing like a senior. She adds size, strength and versatility to our team.”

Junior Trisha Nesbitt is healthy entering the season after suffering a foot injury as a sophomore. Bluder is thrilled to have a healthy Nesbitt backing up at point guard.

“Last year, we didn’t have Trisha at this time of the year because of injury,” Bluder said. “It’s great to have depth at our point guard position, and Trisha can give us quality minutes.”

Another healthy Hawkeye is redshirt sophomore Theairra Taylor. Last season, Taylor suffered her third ACL tear in a 20-month span and missed the entire year. Taylor was a top-100 recruit out of high school and has the ability to be a difference maker for Bluder.

“Theairra is such a gifted player,” Bluder said. “You want her on the floor. It’s almost like a new recruit coming into our system. She’s the type of player that can really change things for us on the court.”

Theairra Taylor missed the last two seasons with knee injuries.

Iowa’s five freshmen will contribute throughout the season, each playing a different position. Freshman Samantha Logic is the most highly-touted player in the group after being named a McDonald’s All-American and the No. 10 recruit coming out of high school.

“Sam can play a multitude of positions in our system and that versatility helps us,” Bluder said. “Her passing ability is impressive, and she can see things on the court before they happen. She makes plays that other people don’t make. It’s fun to have a player that thrives on things like taking charges and playing good defense. Sam isn’t concerned about scoring. She just loves to play.”

Melissa Dixon brings another long-distance shooting threat to the team after scoring 2,146 points in high school.

“Melissa has Jaime Printy-type range with a quick release,” Bluder said. “She does some good things in practice every day. I think she contribute a lot to the team this year.”

Kathryn Reynolds gives Iowa another option at the point guard position. Reynolds led her high school team to a state title as a freshman, hitting a buzzer-beating layup to win the game.

“Kathryn gives us even more depth at point guard,” Bluder said. “She has that scoring guard mentality as a point guard. I like my point guards to have that scoring ability, and she has that mindset.”

Iowa City native Virginia Johnson will play primarily on the wing as a freshman. She was ranked the No. 62 recruit in the country last year and was a nine-time all-state selection in high school.

“It’s fun to watch Virginia on the court,” Bluder said. “She is a very gifted athlete who makes some beautiful moves when she is out on the floor.”

Wrapping up the freshmen class is the additional post player missing from the lineup the previous two years. At 6-foot-4, Bethany Doolittle provides height and size in the post to compliment Morgan Johnson.

“Bethany is the player that we haven’t had in a few years,” Bluder said. “We have been playing primarily with one true center since Morgan has been starting for us. Bethany gives us great height inside and is a legitimate post to back up Morgan.”

Two players on the roster suffered season-ending injuries during preseason workouts. Senior Megan Considine tore her Achilles’ tendon, just days after being named a team captain.

“The fact that Megan was voted a team captain by her peers shows her leadership role with the team,” Bluder said. “We need her to maintain that leadership role, even though she isn’t playing. Megan can really help this team, even from the bench after her injury.”

Sophomore Jade Rogers had a season-ending knee procedure before workouts began. Bluder is happy that Rogers has kept her upbeat attitude from the sidelines.

“Jade is the person who keeps everyone calm and is always there with a joke or funny comment when you need it,” Bluder said. “Jade’s personality has really helped her through the injury, and she can still contribute that attitude without playing.”