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Hawkeye Women RELOAD

Hawk Talk

The Iowa women’s basketball team returns four starters and a freshman class ranked seventh in the nation, so it’s not a surprise head coach Lisa Bluder is ready for the season to begin.
“I really feel that we are the deepest we’ve been in a long time,” said coach Bluder. “I think we are the most balanced that we’ve been in a long, long time.”
It starts with preseason All-Big Ten pick, Ally Disterhoft.
What else can you say about the former West High Trojan named Miss Basketball her senior year in high school?
Ally scored in double figures every game last year and in 78 of her 84 career starts.
The 6-foot forward also shot 75 percent from the free throw line in her career and last year shot a career-high 41 percent from the 3-point line.
“I’d like to continue to be a vocal leader like I was last year,” Disterhoft said at media day last week. “I want to continue to lead by example, on the court, in the classroom or getting into the gym getting extra shots.”
With the depth Iowa has, Ally said the practices are very intense and “people get after it every day.”
Disterhoft has a lot of help with junior Chase Coley and sophomore Megan Gustafson back as starters from last year.
Coley had a breakout year, averaging 11.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and was second on the team with 37 blocked shots last season .
“She’s was our most improved player last year,” said coach Bluder. “The thing I’m excited about is that Chase is becoming a vocal leader.”
Gustafson came on strong. She was the only Big Ten freshman to lead her team in field goal percent (.554), rebounds (6.8) and blocks per game (1.8).
Gustafson is stronger this year and said she’s been working on a hook shot.
Tania Davis and Coley were named to the All-Big Ten Freshman team last year.
Davis started 16 games, was one of only two freshmen in the Big Ten to lead her team in assists (3.4), and averaged at least one steal per game.
“Tania is taking ownership of this team,” said coach Bluder. “It’s fun to see that develop.”
It will be interesting to see who the fifth starter will be or could coach Bluder rotate Coley and Gustafson in the center spot and have two new starters?
Senior Alexa Kastanek and freshmen Makenzie Meyer and Kathleen Doyle seem to have the best opportunity to be the shooting guard. All three can bring the ball up court.
Doyle said she has never played with a center over six feet tall.
“It’s been really fun coming to college and having true post players,” said Doyle, who was Player of the Year in Illinois. “They’re really good shot-blockers, they protect the basket really well and they are good rebounders. It’s a luxury as a guard to have those great post players inside.”
Alexis Sevillian, a teammate of Tania in high school, also could be in the mix at guard.
Bre Cera, another freshman guard, plays with a lot of energy and is a tough defender.
Look for Christina Buttenham and Hannah Stewart to backup the three and four positions.
Buttenham played in 31 games last year and can do a lot of things well, including hitting the three, rebounding and playing defense.
Stewart can play the four or five position and coach Bluder said she played well down the stretch last season.
The Hawkeyes went 19-14 last year, which wasn’t enough to make it to the NCAA tournament, the first time they missed the Big Dance in eight years.
The young Hawks are hungry and, with the talent, leadership and depth they have, should make another run at the NCAA tourney.