Bluder ready for exhibition challenge


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Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder isn’t taking Washburn lightly.

Despite only playing in an exhibition game against the preseason No. 18 Division-II Washburn Lady Blues, Bluder believes the experience could be greatly beneficial to her young team.

“I know a lot of people enjoy playing their exhibitions against teams they’re going to slaughter,” she said. “To me, that isn’t a whole lot of fun. I would rather get better and lose the exhibition game than slaughter somebody and probably pick up some bad habits along the way. So we’re glad to bring in Washburn.”

During her press conference on Thursday, Bluder also announced the starting lineup for the Nov. 8 game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Sophomore Kamille Wahlin and junior Kachine Alexander will play guard, sophomores Hannah Draxten and Kelly Krei will start at forward, and senior JoAnn Hamlin will be the center.

“I don’t know if that’ll be the same starting lineup next week,” she said. “But it’s the one we’re going for right now and using a little bit more experience that we have coming back versus some of the youth.”

Last season, Washburn finished 27-5, losing in the semifinals of the Division-II NCAA Tournament. In nine seasons with the program, head coach Ron McHenry holds a 241-49 record.

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Youthful Hawkeyes should improve

This is the second-straight year Iowa has lost five seniors to graduation. However, the Hawkeyes have a strong freshman class that Bluder hopes to develop as the season goes on.

“As a coach, you want your team to obviously improve as the year goes on,” the 10th-year head coach said. “But when you have such a young team, that’s when you see the vast improvements as the year goes on. You have so many people learning a whole new system, and obviously, we’re facing that.”

While none of the Iowa freshmen are in the starting lineup, Bluder said she thinks the exhibition game might relieve some preseason jitters from her newcomers.

“I think exhibitions are good for everybody, but by far, the people that are affected the most in a positive manner are the freshmen,” she said. “Just putting on that Iowa uniform and running out of the tunnel — all those emotions you go through as a freshman are so much more significant.”

Taylor Out

Freshman Theairra Taylor dress for the exhibition game this weekend but will not play.

Taylor tore her ACL during her last high-school basketball game with St. Paul Central High School in Minnesota. However, she’s recovering at a quicker speed than expected.

Bluder hopes to get Taylor back in time for the Hawkeye Challenge on Nov. 14-15.

“Three months ago, I would have said there’s a 30 percent chance she could play,” Bluder said.

“Now we’re looking at 98 percent chance. It just gives us one more option, and it’s not just an option, it’s an incredibly gifted option that we have now.”

Taylor was a finalist for 2009 Miss Minnesota Basketball. During her senior year, she was an all-state team selection, named the 2009 St. Paul City Conference Player of the Year, and a McDonald’s All-American nominee.

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