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Bluder upbeat about next year

BY JEFF PAWOLA | APRIL 01, 2009 7:40 AM

For the second-straight year, the Iowa women’s basketball team will graduate five seniors — Wendy Ausdemore, Kristi Smith, Megan Skouby, Nicole VanderPol, and Lindsey Nyenhuis — and again look to be competitive despite their absence.

Ausdemore, Smith, and Skouby became the highest scoring trio of players from the same team in the same class in Big Ten history this season, yet the Hawkeyes do not plan on skipping a beat.

“I do feel like we have great momentum right now, but obviously, everybody can look and see that we’ve graduated 10 student-athletes in the past two years,” head coach Lisa Bluder said while meeting with local media on Tuesday. “I think another good season like we just had will definitely help us with recruiting for our next class. We just need to get these solid balanced classes.

“We’re really trying to get that right now, and we’re working hard on our next recruiting class.”

With the return of second team All-Big Ten and junior-to-be Kachine Alexander, sophomore-to-be and All-Big Ten freshman team member Kamille Wahlin, and senior-to-be JoAnn Hamlin, who started the first half of the season before coming off the bench following an ankle injury, the Hawkeyes will be down, but not out.

“I’m excited about where Kamille and [Kachine] are. They’re young, and they had a big effect on our team this year,” Bluder said. “I think that we do have good cornerstones there, along with JoAnn Hamlin. She’s going to be back and hopefully healthy next year and our only senior.

“We know pretty obviously — Kamille, Kachine, and JoAnn — you have to look at those other players who didn’t really play a lot who could have an effect. Somebody such as a Hannah [Draxten], somebody such as a Kelsey [Cermak] … You have to look at our freshmen, too. Our freshmen are going to have to come in and have an effect again this year.”

Morgan Johnson, a high-school senior from Missouri, could be one of the incoming Iowa freshmen who can make an splash in the upcoming 2009-10 season.

“She set records, she won the state championship in Missouri. She really had a great senior year,” Bluder said. “Morgan has a tremendous work ethic. She is so coachable and very anxious to be here and be a part of it.”

Bluder is also excited about the renovations that will take place in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The 26-year-old facility will undergo an approximately $47 million renovation beginning this summer; the project is expected to be finished for the 2011-12 season, according to hawkeyesports.com.

The expansion plans includes a new practice gym for the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams, an 8,000 square-foot strength and conditioning center, and new locker rooms for the men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, and wrestling teams.

“I think the Carver renovation will affect our recruiting a lot … Players look at facilities, they look at commitment to programs. The Carver renovation will improve both of those areas for us,” Bluder said. “It’s going to help our current players and also our future recruiting.”


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