Oct. 31, 2013
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CHICAGO — The biggest preseason question for a University of Iowa women’s basketball program seeking a seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament is which power forward will take the lead?
Will it be sophomore Kali Peschel, who played 28 games a year ago?
Will it be sophomore Claire Till, a veteran of 16 games?
How about freshman hometown girl Ally Disterhoft?
“The battle at power forward is intense. I love that,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said Thursday at Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Media Day at Hyatt Regency O’Hare. “I think competition brings out the best in everybody, and we have that going on. They’re working hard and they can go after each other extremely hard and they are the best of friends off the floor. They understand they need to be good and for us, and with the new rules, I guess we have 15 fouls at that position.”
Starting spots are solidified for the Hawkeyes at the other four positions: junior Samantha Logic at point, junior Melissa Dixon at shooting guard, senior Theairra Taylor at small forward, and junior Bethany Doolittle in the post.
“The battle at power forward is intense. I love that. I think competition brings out the best in everybody, and we have that going on. They’re working hard and they can go after each other extremely hard and they are the best of friends off the floor. They understand they need to be good and for us, and with the new rules, I guess we have 15 fouls at that position.”
UI basketball coach
“It’s a fun competition,” Peschel said. “Everyone wants to play but we all know we’re making each other better by playing our hardest against each other and trying to prove who can get that starting spot.”
Peschel is the most experienced of the three, having played 198 minutes in 28 games as a freshman in 2012-13. Till played 108 minutes in 16 games, scoring 27 points — 11 more than Peschel. On her way to being named 2013 Miss Iowa Basketball, Disterhoft averaged 26.3 points and shot 63.5 percent from the field (47 percent from 3-point range) at Iowa City West High School.
“We don’t see it as a competition in practice,” Disterhoft said. “Whoever starts will start; we are all close and we all want each other to do the best they can. We all want to come in, make an impact and help the team however we can.”
Till put the finishing touches on Iowa’s 2012-13 season by making a layup with seven seconds left in a setback to Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes finished 21-13 overall, 8-8 in the Big Ten Conference.
“You might have a great practice one day and the next day Kali or Ally might have a great practice,” Till said. “The competition is great, but our spots can be interchangeable in basically everything. We’re going to run a fast offense where we get up and down the floor. We’re smaller, but we’re quicker, and everybody can play multiple positions.”
Peschel is listed at 6-foot-1, Till and Disterhoft are 6-foot.
Coach Bluder on Peschel:
“She is much more aggressive this year and maybe that’s just being a sophomore. Maybe it’s seeing the writing on the wall that there is a position open and who wants to claim it? Kali has the ability to go to the boards for us and we’re going to need that.”
Coach Bluder on Till:
“She has grown her game, she is more confident, as you should be as a sophomore. You’ve been through it now, you know what’s expected, and that time and that education helps you go out there and play hard and know that’s the physical style that you need to play at this level.”
Coach Bluder on Disterhoft:
“Ally is a deceiving athlete. She can get off the floor, run, and she has good hands. I’m not worried about her athletic ability and being able to play. Sometimes as a freshman, your uncertainty slows you down because you’re not exactly sure what you need to do. That’s the only thing that’s slowing her down right now.”
All three are expected to see plenty of minutes Sunday, Nov. 3, when the Hawkeyes host Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) in an exhibition beginning at 1 p.m. (CT) in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Last season the Golden Bears were 23-7 and advanced to the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament.