By Don Lund
Game time is back for a 14th season of collegiate-level league basketball, and it’s a chance to see to current Hawkeye women as well as the newcomers.
Melissa Dixon was the second pick overall (behind Samantha Logic) and is ready for her senior season.
“It goes really fast and everyone said it would,” said Melissa, who is fifth all-time in program history with 210 career 3-pointers. “I’m excited and it should be a really fun year.”
Iowa returns four starters, including Melissa, and if a couple of the four new freshmen can contribute, the Hawks should have a really good year.
“We are excited to have four great freshman coming in,” said Melissa, who scored 39 points in her opening game. “We lose Theairra, but the freshmen will help us right away.”
Melissa made 97 3-pointers last year, the most in Iowa history in a single season.
Bethany Doolittle will have a couple of taller teammates to go against next fall with incoming freshman Chase Coley (6-3) and a healthy Nicole Smith (6-4).
Nicole missed almost the whole season with a knee injury last year which made Bethany the only Hawkeye over 6-1.
“It’s going to be fun working with these freshmen this summer and working with this team again,” said Bethany, who is third in program history in all-time blocked shots with 184 career blocks.
“Chase definitely has a ton of potential,” said Bethany, who was on the Big Ten’s all-defensive team last year. “It will be fun to work with and against her in practice.”
Chase had 18 points in her first game in Game Time.
I’m still amazed that the Hawkeyes won 27 games last year. That ties for second as the most wins ever.
“It just shows how close we can be as a team on and off the court,” said Bethany who was second team All-Big Ten last season. “The core of our team is coming back and we still have the chemistry.”
Carley Mohns (6-1) is one of the newcomers that will be competing for playing time at the three or four spot.
Carley looked good in her Game Time debut last week. She is on Melissa Dixon’s team and they won their first game.
“It’s exciting to play with the talent that’s here and I’m looking forward to the next few years,” said Carley, who ran the court well, is a good rebounder and can score inside.
Former West High Trojan Ally Disterhoft, had a breakout year as a freshman for the Hawkeyes. Her 474 points last season were second most in program history. Jaime Printy scored 501 in her freshman season.
Ally scored 35 points in her first game of the summer league.
“When you have an opportunity like that it’s easy to succeed,” said Ally. “You have girls that are always looking to make that extra pass. It definitely was a fun season, but we just started summer workouts and we are ready to get back after it.”
Ally started 17 games last year and averaged 13.2 points per game. She was name on the All-Big Ten freshman team and was the first Hawkeye freshman named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.
“Chemistry was so important,” said Ally. “We loved being out there on the court with each other and we also loved spending time off the court with each other. I think that when it came to game time, everyone could see that we were clicking on all cylinders about halfway through the season.”
Ally led Iowa in rebounding in 17 games and her 229 rebounds were the third most ever for a Hawkeye freshman.
“I know I’m not the biggest girl but whether I’m playing the four or the three I’m just going to do what the coaches ask me,” said Ally. “A lot of times that’s rebounding and if that’s something I can do to help the team then I’m obviously going to do that.”
Iowa’s four new freshmen should add depth and talent to the team that returns four starters.
“I’m really excited to play with them,” said Ally. “Chase (Cooley) is on my team. It will be cool to jell with her and see what she’s got.”
Claire Till, despite being listed at 6-0, had to fill in at center to give Bethany a break.
Claire played in every game, averaging 14 minutes, 2.7 points and 2.9 rebounds while going up against bigger centers in almost every game.
“I really embraced being the five,” said Claire. “I’ve never had that role before. Being able to go out there and be around the big girls was really a fun experience for me.”
Claire also agreed with Bethany and Ally about the team chemistry being a major factor to help the Hawkeyes win 27 games.
“I think a lot of teams don’t have that.” said Claire. “They say they do but they’re not 100 percent real about it, but this team really is and it just keeps getting stronger.”
Claire said she wanted to work on “everything” when I asked her what she wanted to improve on this summer.
“Post move and mid-range jumper,” said Claire. “I want to work on my moves down low in case I have to play center again next year.”
Kali Peschel started the first 19 games last year and then came off the bench.
Lacy Goldwire, Iowa assistant coach, told me Kali’s great attitude helped make the transition work.
Instead of being upset that she wasn’t a starter, Kali embraced her role coming off the bench.
Kali, who will be a junior, is looking to play more of a leadership role this year.
“The coaches talked to us about helping the younger players coming in,” said Kali, who ranked fifth on the team in rebounding with 140 boards. “I didn’t mind coming off the bench because I love winning and I think we play really, really great together no matter who’s playing. I knew my role and I’m hoping to carry that into next season.”
Whitney Jennings comes in as a top-rated point guard and will have the advantage of playing with Samantha Logic, one of the best in the Big Ten.
“I’m really excited to go against her in practice and learn from her,” said Whitney, who was voted the IndyStar Miss Basketball award, an annual award for the Indiana’s top senior. “It will only make me better.”
Samantha missed the first game at Game Time but is expected to be back.
This should be a fun season with talent and more depth on the Hawkeyes’ roster.