#27 Iowa Women's Basketball Preview

Iowa Hawkeyes
Overall rank: #27
Conference rank: Big Ten #4
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Last season’s theme for the Iowa women’s basketball team was one and done. The Hawkeyes never made it past the first round of the Big Ten tournament, and once in the NCAA tournament Iowa lost a heartbreaker to Gonzaga, falling by six points.

Iowa looks to shed its one and done moniker this season, thanks largely to a solid cast of returning players and some newcomers that will electrify Big Ten women’s basketball in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes were part of a four-way logjam for third place in the conference, along with Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Time will tell if the Hawkeyes can be this competitive once again, but it looks promising.

2010-11: 22-9, 10-6
2010-11 Postseason: NCAA (Lost in first round to Gonzaga, 92-86)
Coach: Lisa Bluder, 211-132 at Iowa, 567-274 overall

Who’s Out:
Iowa might need an extra dose of Vitamin K this season. Kachine Alexander and Kelsey Cermak graduated last year, and Alexander’s presence will be missed. Alexander, a 5-9 guard, became the first player in Iowa history to amass 1,000 points, 800 rebounds and 300 assists and finished second overall in rebounding at 910. Alexander averaged 12.5 points per game. Cermak, a 6-1 forward, was more known for her academics than anything else, although she played in all 30 games and made one start while averaging 2.5 points per game. Hannah Draxten is also off the team but will be on the bench dressed differently. Draxten had to stop playing basketball due to chronic back injuries but will serve as a student assistant coach for the remainder of her stay with the Hawkeyes.

Who’s In:
Bluder padded the roster with five freshmen, all with strong Midwestern roots and one with hometown roots in Iowa City. The homegrown player, 6-2 forward Virginia Johnson, was a top-100 recruit nationally as well as a six-time all-state selection. Melissa Dixon, a 5-8 guard, was a top-10 finalist for Illinois’ Miss Basketball award and is noteworthy because her 2,146 points made her McHenry County’s all-time leading scorer for boys or girls. Samantha Logic, a 5-9 guard, was Gatorade Player of the Year and Miss Basketball in Wisconsin and averaged 15 points and 8.5 rebounds as a senior. Guard Kathryn Reynolds at 5-7 was a three-time all-conference selection in the Cincinnati area, and 6-4 center Bethany Doolittle averaged 16.9 points as a senior and was a Miss Basketball finalist in Minnesota.

Who to Watch:
Although a few of the freshmen bear watching, most of the scoring will revolve around Jaime Printy, a 5-11 guard who averaged 16.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Kamille Wahlin, a 5-8 guard, averaged 12 points and was strong on the defensive glass. Morgan Johnson, a 6-5 center, was the team’s second-leading rebounder at 6.7 and averaged 10.8 points per game. Alexander’s absence will be covered thanks to the presence of these three scorers.

Final Projection:  
One starter gone, plenty of freshmen coming in, lots of scoring returning… yes, it could be a very good year in Iowa City. This might be one of Bluder’s strongest teams yet, but getting past schools like Michigan State and Ohio State could be very tough. Still, Iowa has a lot of talent in the bank and could make a run at the Big Ten title if everything comes together. Iowa’s non-conference schedule does not have a lot of tough tests on it, but the Big Ten will make up for that.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Jaime Printy, Guard, Junior, 16.8 points per game
Kamille Wahlin, Guard, Senior, 12 points per game
Morgan Johnson, Center, Junior, 6.7 rebounds per game
Kelly Krei, Forward, Senior, started all 31 games
Virginia Johnson, Forward, Freshman, Iowa City native