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Iowa’s success will depend on team’s health

[ 0 ] March 19, 2012 |

Forgive Iowa coach Lisa Bluder if she keeps one eye on the training room this offseason.

The Hawkeyes just finished up the 2011-12 season at 19-12. Iowa qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season and finished tied for second in the Big Ten.

But Iowa’s ability to extended their tournament streak to six next winter is going to depend on the health of the 2012-13 team.

“(Athletic trainer) Jennie Sertterh should get paid overtime this summer,” Bluder said. “There’s a lot of knee situations to worry about.”

Iowa says goodbye to three seniors who played this season. Kamille Wahlin and Kelly Krei, especially, were mainstays in the starting lineup the last three years.

Iowa, 11-10 at one point, had to turn its season around at the same time as it had to deal with the loss of leading scorer Jaime Printy, who tore her ACL on Feb. 2 at Wisconsin.

It is the return of Printy that tops the list of injury concerns for Iowa. Bluder is planning on the junior returning and isn’t ready to consider a redshirt season.

“I believe she will work extremely hard, but she won’t be back until October at the best,” Bluder said. “She’s going to miss the whole offseason, all that work.

“Not only conditioning-wise and that shooting touch, but working together and building that chemistry and building that team.”

Printy sits in 11th place on the Iowa all-time scoring list with 1,409 points. Her shooting will be needed back, especially with Wahlin (2nd all-time at Iowa with 231 3-pointers) and Krei (6th with 166) moving on.

Barring any bad luck in the offseason, Iowa will return all-Big Ten center Morgan Johnson and Samantha Logic, a member of the all-freshman team in the Big Ten.

Sophomore Theairra Taylor also showed Sunday in the NCAA Tournament game against California that she is ready for a bigger role after scoring 14 points, grabbing six rebounds in a season-high 26 minutes.

“With confidence, it gives me a step,” Taylor said. “The thing I was lacking all year up until this game.”

Freshman Melissa Dixon also returns as a starter after filling in eight games at the end of the season for Printy.

“Sam is going to get better, Melissa is going to get more confident,” Bluder said. “I feel we have a good nucleus.”

But in addition to Printy, incoming freshmen Nicole Smith — a 6-foot-4 post from Rockton, Ill., and Claire Till, a 6-foot forward from Dubuque Wahlert — had their senior seasons cut short with knee injuries.

In addition, 6-1 guard Kali Peschel only played the back half of her season recovering from an ACL surgery.

And Iowa graduated its power forwards in Krei and Kalli Hansen.

“Having a four would be really important, otherwise we’d look at one of our freshman playing that position, because Theairra isn’t big enough to play there,” Bluder said.

Ideally that spot was expected to be filled by Virginia Johnson, but the freshman was limited to 13 games because of a head injury.

“We wish we could get to the bottom of it,” Bluder said. “She might be the most gifted athlete we have on the team. But if she’s not healthy, it doesn’t do us any good.”

Iowa hopes to add one healthy freshman in 6-foot-3 post Kayla Timmerman from Wayzata, Minn. Bethany Doolittle, Kathryn Reynolds and Trisha Nesbitt return as well.

The future of sophomore forward Jade Rogers still is in doubt.

“I don’t think her rehab has gone as well as we’d like it to,” Bluder said. “She is still in a lot of pain and behind in her rehab.”

Iowa City hosts one of the 16 regional sites for the NCAA Tournament next year. How quickly the Hawkeyes heal will influence if they will be playing in front of a home crowd in March.

But given the injuries, Iowa might need to rally late like its done the past four years. The Hawkeyes were 11-10 this season before winning eight straight.

“We need to quit doing that, I think,” Bluder said. “It might make our seed a little big easier once we got here.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball

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