Oct. 27, 2011
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CHICAGO — Lisa Bluder and two of her esteemed student-athletes spent Thursday morning talking to a new set of media members at the Big Ten Media Day in the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare. Now the trio is ready to see new opponents on the basketball court.
“Right now I think the players are ready to try their skills against somebody other than themselves,” Bluder said. “We’re getting to that point right now where we’re getting ready and we need to play.”
“The season’s right around the corner,” Hawkeye senior point guard Kamille Wahlin said. “You start hearing all that preseason talk and you want to get going and get into games. Everyone’s zero-to-zero and you don’t have much room for error. That’s how it is every year with this league. You know everyone’s a threat at this point.”
There was even more of that preseason talk the last two days in Chicago. The Hawkeye women are picked third in a preseason coaches’ poll and UI junior guard Jaime Printy is named as one of the top five players in the Big Ten by both the coaches and media.
“It’s where I thought we should be but it’s nice that everyone else in the conference thinks that way of our program as well. Mostly it’s just a confidence boost that we are one of the top 3 teams in one of the toughest women’s basketball conferences in America. It’s a great acknowledgement for our players and now we want to live up to and exceed those expectations.”
UI head basketball coach
“It’s a great honor,” Printy said. “All the people listed on that team are great players and it’s a great honor to be on a list with all those people.”
Joining Printy as unanimous preseason All-Big Ten are guards Alex Bentley (Penn State) and Samantha Prahalis (Ohio State) and forwards Karisma Penn (Illinois) and Lykendra Johnson (Michigan State). Penn State and Purdue are ranked 1-2 in both polls, with Iowa third according to coaches and Michigan State assuming that third spot in the media poll.
“It’s where I thought we should be but it’s nice that everyone else in the conference thinks that way of our program as well,” Bluder said. “Mostly it’s just a confidence boost that we are one of the top 3 teams in one of the toughest women’s basketball conferences in America. It’s a great acknowledgement for our players and now we want to live up to and exceed those expectations.”
Penn State was runner-up in the Big Ten a year ago with a record of 25-10 overall, 11-5 in conference play. The Nittany Lions return 10 letterwinners and four of their top five in scoring and rebounding.
“What I like about Iowa is their style of play,” said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington. “They get up and down the floor, they stretch the defense with their prolific outside shooting and then they have players that can drive to the basket. They have good, solid post play and they’re a really talented team all-around.”
Iowa finished in a four-way tie for third in the Big Ten in 2010-11 with a record of 22-9, 10-6. But it is Purdue (21-12, 9-7) that gets the early nod to finish second this season. The Boilermakers have 11 letterwinners back, including all five starters.
“Iowa is always going to be an amazing offensive team,” Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp said. “They can all shoot the basketball, so they’re very difficult to defend and they move the basketball very quickly so it’s very, very tough. I think they’re always going to be one of the top teams in the league. Lisa and her staff do such a great job on having their team jelling at the right time. They have all the pieces of the puzzle to contend to be one of the best.”
Bluder said there isn’t much new to report since she met with local media Oct. 17 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. And that’s a good thing.
“I don’t have any injuries to report and things have been going status quo,” Bluder said. “Things are going well with our team and the five freshmen are coming along really well within the program.”