By Don Lund
This is the second part of the Hawkeye women’s basketball team wrap up.
I got a chance to talk to Jan Jensen, associate head coach for Iowa, last week and we talked about remodeling Carver, the season and the seniors.
This week we’ll look at the underclassmen, the five new freshmen and the trip overseas.
The junior class consists of Trisha Nesbitt, Morgan Johnson and Jaime Printy.
Trisha only played in 16 games last year and the Iowa bench, which was already short, suffered.
I really thought she took one for the team by not taking a medical redshirt.
By coming in at point guard, even only averaging 5.9 minutes, she not only gave Kamille Wahlin some rest, but let Jaime play the two-guard where she is the most comfortable.
Lisa Bluder said that Trisha has the energy and leadership qualities to help lead the team next season.
“Trisha is really upbeat, really positive,” said Coach Jensen. “The challenge with all of that is going into that role, not knowing how injuries are going to play into it but being able to lead no matter the circumstance.”
Morgan Johnson led the Hawkeyes shooting 48% from the floor and averaged 10.8 points and 6.7 rebounds. She started 30 games and led Iowa with 76 blocked shots.
“Her highlight was a double-double at North Carolina and then we just never got that consistency of play,” Jan said about her 6-5 center. “I think Morgan knows that she should have done better, so we’re working on different parts of her game and keeping her confidence at a higher level. I think that’s a big key for Morgan. I need to do a little better job as her position coach to get her to be a little bit more productive. I expect her junior and senior year to really be very, very good.”
Jaime Printy is on her way to becoming one of the best players to put on the Black and Gold.
In her first year, she was the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year and was second team All-Big Ten.
Last year, Jaime was again named second team All-Big Ten, leading the Hawks in scoring (16.8) and second in assists with 109.
“She’s just special,” said Jan. “She’s a special player, a special talent we’re hoping she’s able to gain more confidence. We’re just so excited for the last two years for Jaime. I can hardly wait to see how her career is going to continue to unfold.”
Jade Rogers, Theairra Taylor and Hannah Draxten make up the sophomores, although Hannah had to retire from playing because of recurring back injuries.
Hannah will help the coaches this fall as an undergraduate assistant.
Jade played in 13 games last year after being injured early in the season. She’s a little undersized to play the five position but will stay there because of lack of depth.
Theairra redshirted last year and should be ready when the season starts.
“She’s a phenomenal athlete,” said coach J. “She just makes you look better on the team having her on the sideline. Extremely smooth, athletic and very explosive. She’s definitely going to help us.”
Jan says Theairra and Jaime love the game, spend a lot of time in the gym and they compliment each other well.
Iowa’s Fab Five freshmen will be expected to come in and help right away.
Samantha Logic is the cream of the crop in this year’s recruiting class, but I’m just as excited to see what 6-1 Virginia Johnson brings to the Hawkeyes.
Virginia averaged 23 points a game for City High last year and was named first team all-state three years in a row.
“She’s smooth, she feels the game and she’s an athlete,” said coach Jensen. “She’s going to give us a different look that we haven’t had before. It’s great that she’s a local kid because it keeps the interest growing in the area.”
Virginia will team up with Kelly Krei again. The last time they played together they won a state championship at City High.
Samantha was just named on the Parade All American team and will bring great talent and leadership to the Hawkeyes.
“I don’t think we’ve had a more complete IQ point guard coming in,” said Jan. “She sees plays develop before most everybody on the floor. She loves the game, loves competing and knows that no one is going to outwork her.”
Jan said that Samantha could play the one, two or three position which gives the Hawks a lot of flexibility.
Bethany Doolittle is a 6-4 center from Minnesota.
“She’s going to be fun because she’s just coming into her own her senior year,” Jan said. “She’s one of the top five players in Minnesota. Getting her a little stronger and getting her into this system… we’re excited and I think she’s going to do some good things for us.”
Melissa Dixon is a 5-8 shooting guard from Illinois.
“I think she’s going to be a great zone buster for us and she plays great defense,” said coach J. “I think people are going to be surprised. She’s a hard worker who brings a lot to the table.”
Melissa, who was going to walk-on at Iowa before a scholarship came open, averaged 23.4 points her senior year. She’s the first 2,000 point career scorer (male or female) in McHenry County in Illinois.
Jan said Kathryn Reynolds is a 5-4 point guard that reminds her of former All-Big Ten selection Kristi Smith.
“She’s extremely intelligent,” Jan said. “Love the kid and everybody’s going to love her, too. We have a lot of great guards and we’re going to keep people fresh.”
The last couple of years, depth has been a major issue for the Hawkeyes. Hopefully next season that will be taken care of.
The Hawkeyes’ trip overseas in August comes at a good time with five new freshmen coming in.
“It’s going to be phenomenal,” said Jan. “In all the years to have a trip this is the year. To be able to work with the freshmen for 10 practices before we go to Europe for 10 days, there is so much basketball growth that can happen but even more important there’s so much chemistry.”
I always enjoy talking to Jan, Jenni Fitzgerald or Shannon Gage, the Hawkeye assistant coaches, after the season.
It gets me ready for the summer Game Time season and excited for next year.