Jan. 17, 2012
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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 — Most players would hold a small celebration after draining a 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds of a game to force overtime. It’s becoming an old routine for Kamille Wahlin.
Wahlin’s 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining against Illinois marked the seventh time in her career that she hit a shot in the final 1:05 of the game to either tie the contest or give Iowa a lead. Some would call that clutch. Wahlin just calls it basketball.
“Those are my favorite situations,” Wahlin said. “You get the feeling of your back against the wall and you want to do anything you can to win that game.”
That type of determined attitude is exactly what led the Iowa coaching staff to recruit the 5-foot-8 guard out of Crookston, Minn.
“You could tell how competitive Kamille was back in high school,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Some kids are talented, but are a little laid back on the court. They are good players, but just have a different style.
“She’s demonstrated over and over again that she can be counted on in clutch situations. It really shows her strength and conditioning level. In the last minute of the game, you have to be tough. It also shows her focus and confidence. All that hard work she puts in really pays off in those types of situations.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder
“Then there are the Kamille-type players. She played with such determination all the time in high school. It didn’t matter if it was the state tournament in Minnesota or a regular conference game on a weeknight. She had that fire all the time.”
Bluder believes the fire from her senior captain helps her in the clutch moments.
“That emotional level is what helps Kamille in pressure situations,” she said. “She plays at that level all the time. She never turns it off.”
Wahlin showed the clutch aspect of her game three times as a sophomore. Her first big shot came in Reno, Nev., at the Nugget Classic against Columbia. The game was tied with 16 seconds left when Wahlin buried a game-winning 3-pointer.
Her next shot came at Wisconsin in the regular season finale. Iowa needed a win over the Badgers to secure a No. 3 seed and first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. With 35 seconds left in overtime and the shot clock about to expire, Wahlin hit a 3-pointer to make it a two-possession game.
The stakes kept getting bigger, and Wahlin kept rising to the occasion. With a berth in the Big Ten Tournament championship game on the line, Wahlin sank a triple with 1:04 remaining against Michigan State to give Iowa a three point lead.
Wahlin kept stepping up as a junior, sinking a jumper against Drake with 50 seconds left to break a tie, and she drilled a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to tie the game at Michigan State.
This season, Wahlin calmly drained a deep 3-pointer at Northern Iowa with 31 seconds left to give Iowa a two-point advantage. Her latest heroics were against Illinois, when her 3 with 10 seconds remaining forced overtime.
Bluder has no problem giving Wahlin the ball in those situations because of her track record.
“She’s demonstrated over and over again that she can be counted on in clutch situations,” Bluder said. “It really shows her strength and conditioning level. In the last minute of the game, you have to be tough. It also shows her focus and confidence. All that hard work she puts in really pays off in those types of situations.”
Wahlin really doesn’t think about anything in a pressure situation. She just plays her game.
“When these plays happen I try to get really focused and zoned in,” Wahlin said. “I don’t care what’s going on around me. All I can think about is knocking down that shot.”
She’s thought about knocking down that shot plenty of times, and it seems to be working. But she doesn’t care if it’s her or one of her teammates. Wahlin just wants to win.
“I never ask for the ball in those situations,” Wahlin said. “I don’t think any of us really do. Coach Bluder knows I’m willing to step up if needed at the end of the game.”
The Iowa coaching staff was quick to pick up on Wahlin’s determination, even as a sophomore in high school. Bluder remembers the first time she heard about Wahlin from associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Jan Jensen.
“When Jan saw her for the first time, it was a done deal in her mind,” Bluder said. “She wanted her at Iowa. Jan came back right away and said ‘I offered this kid.’ Jan believed in Kamille so much and told us she didn’t have any weaknesses. That was when Kamille was only a sophomore in high school. You could tell she was going to be able to take it to the next level without any adjustment.”
The only adjustment Wahlin has had to make is in her postgame routine. She has been carried off the court by her teammates almost more often than walking back to the locker room on her own.
Clutch players like Wahlin just have to make that adjustment.