Optimism High to Make It 6 Straight

Oct. 17, 2012

2012-13 Iowa Women’s Basketball Media Day Photo Gallery

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The goals are laid out for the University of Iowa women’s basketball team. The Hawkeyes intend on opening and closing the 2012-13 season with tournament victories on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which would mean a trip to the Sweet 16.

“Our goal this year is to open the season by winning a tournament game at home and end the season by winning tournament games at home,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder on Wednesday at the team’s media day in the Feller Club Room. “It’s not very often you get the opportunity to host a national tournament bookending your season.”

The Hawkeyes open the regular season by hosting Northern Illinois in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament on Nov. 9. Iowa closes out the year by hosting the NCAA Tournament First and Second Round games in Iowa City, and the team fully intends to make its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance on its home court.

“We haven’t talked about six straight, but we definitely have talked about the NCAA Tournament,” said Bluder. “We look as it at an opportunity to play on our home court in front of the fabulous fans we have.

“We certainly understand that there’s an advantage to playing at home. No matter what your seed is, no matter who your opponent is, we want to make full use of that.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder

“We certainly understand that there’s an advantage to playing at home. No matter what your seed is, no matter who your opponent is, we want to make full use of that.”

The Hawkeyes return four starters from the 2011-12 squad that finished 19-12 overall and 11-5 in Big Ten play. Three of the returnees — Morgan Johnson, Jaime Printy and Samantha Logic — each earned All-Big Ten recognition a season ago, while Melissa Dixon is the fourth returner.

Logic was Iowa’s go-to player down the stretch as a freshman, earning Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors the final three weeks and the Big Ten Co-Player of the Week distinction in two of the final three weeks. She averaged 9.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists on the year.

“We’re anchoring our team with Sam Logic,” said Bluder. “She made that jump (at the end of last season), and it wasn’t a jump and go back down. She’s staying there. She has confidence right now, and as a sophomore, she feels like she is leading the team.”

Bluder thinks she has a gem in Johnson, a 6-foot-5 center, who was a second team All-Big Ten selection as a junior. The Platte City, Mo., native averaged 14.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and had 70 blocks in 2011-12.

“She is one of the best centers in the United States,” said Bluder. “Last year, she was the seventh best field goal shooter in the nation and was 26th in blocked shots. I love coaching her, and she is wonderful to have on the court.”

Printy, a three-time All-Big Ten honoree, is on the mend after tearing her ACL last February in a game at Wisconsin. The guard from Marion, Iowa, will be back in uniform when the Hawkeyes open the season against Northern Illinois, but Bluder says her role is still up in the air.

“I can’t tell you if she’ll be 100 percent at that point,” said Bluder. “I can tell you she’s working as hard as she can to get to that point, and I can tell you I have 100 percent belief in her when she shoots the ball that she will help our team reach our goals.”

Bluder says a pair of 2011-12 role players — sophomore Bethany Doolitte and junior Theairra Taylor — will be “impact” players for the current squad.

“She’s (Doolittle) more versatile, more confident as a sophomore,” said Bluder. “We may move her to the power forward position to add some more height and give her the opportunity to have extra minutes on the floor.”

Taylor posted her best game of the season in Iowa’s final game last season against California in the NCAA Tournament, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes.

“She’ll be an impact player for us, there’s no doubt about that,” said Bluder. “She is taking off right from where she left off last year in that NCAA Tournament game against California.”

The Hawkeyes have five newcomers on the roster in guard Claire Till, guard Kathy Thomas, guard Kali Peschel, forward Kayla Timmerman and center Nicole Smith.

Bluder has penciled in Johnson, Logic and possibly Doolittle into her starting lineup, but the shooting guard and small forward positions are still in question.

“I have Theairra, Trisha (Nesbitt), Jaime, Melissa, Kali Peschel… I have a lot to choose from,” said Bluder. “Isn’t that a great problem for me? I have not had this problem in a long time… we might actually have to do some coaching.”

The Hawkeyes open the season Friday night at the Black & Gold Blowout beginning at 8 p.m. (CT).