Four straight 20-win seasons, four straight NCAA trips, four starters back and five talented freshman; you can see why Lisa Bluder, Iowa’s head coach, is excited to start the season.
The biggest number might be 12.
“We have 12 healthy players right now,” said coach Bluder. “I don’t know the last time we’ve been able to say that.”
You start at the point. Senior Kamille Wahlin (5-8) is not only steady, she has one of the best 12-foot jump shots in the Big Ten, is a great passer and leader on the team.
Jaime Printy (5-11), who led the team in scoring last year as a sophomore, is playing defense, driving to the basket and is one of the best free throw shooters in the country.
“It’s just a blast playing in this conference and you just have to come every game ready to play,” said Jaime.
Senior Kelly Krei (6-2) can run the court with the best of them, is deadly from 3-point range and will hit the boards.
“Every year I fell like I get more confident and so this is my last year so hopefully this will be the year I’m the most confident,” said Kelly.
Morgan Johnson, a 6-5 junior, got stronger last year, plays great defense and can explode for 20 points any time she isn’t doubled.
Kalli Hansen (5-11) will back up Kelly and coach Bluder said at media day that Kalli has played well in fall practice.
“It’s just so nice to be healthy, to be able to be on the court all day at practice and go 110% at practice,” said Kalli, who was nicked up last year. “Having the team and the coaches support me last year really helped.”
Trisha Nesbitt (5-7) is finally healthy and should give Kamille a break at point guard.
“I’ve been doing full practices ever since we started,” said Trish, who missed some games last year with a foot injury. “It’s been really holding up well and it’s been exciting to be out there.”
Theairra Taylor (5-11), maybe the best athlete on the team, is back after two years of knee injuries.
Theairra played as a true freshman and will be a great addition off the bench.
The freshman have all five positions covered starting with 5-7 Kathryn Reynolds at point.
“It‘s awesome as a point guard when you‘re bringing the ball up court and you‘re looking around because you have so many good options to pass to,” said Kathryn. “It’s really fun to play with them.”
Melissa Dixon is a 5-8 shooting guard with a quick release and good range.
“It’s fun to watch Jaime,” said Melissa. “She’s such a good shooter. There’s a lot of things I can learn from her.”
Samantha Logic (5-9) played point guard in high school and if the season started today would start at the three (small forward).
“It’s definitely nice having four returning starters that know the system,” said Samantha. “It’s definitely a plus. No one wants to carry a team; you always want a team effort.”
That means the Hawks will have three players; Kamille, Jaime and Samantha who can bring the ball up and they will be tough to press.
Virginia Johnson at 6-2 will play the four position (power forward) and coach Bluder says that Virginia “is one of the most gifted athletes I’ve ever coached.”
Virginia and Kelly Krei are once again teammates. They played on City High’s state championship team when Virginia was a freshman, Kelly a senior.
“Kelly is a good mentor,” said Virginia. “On every play, when I have no idea what we’re doing she’ll set me down on exactly what I need to do.”
Bethany Doolittle (6-4) gives Iowa some much needed height at center that they haven’t had for a couple of years.
“It’s definitely helpful going up against Morgan,” said Bethany. “She’s been a mentor to me, so it’s really nice.”
All five freshman said it was so important to have the overseas trip over the summer which helped develop chemistry and gave them a chance to learn the system.
Great new talent, great new facilities, great returning starters… it should be a fun ride.