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Wahlin ready to take over point guard duties

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | NOVEMBER 06, 2009 7:20 AM

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Kamille Wahlin wasted little time before making an impact at Iowa.

In her first career start against Michigan on Jan. 26, she posted 14 points and dished out 10 assist in a 77-69 victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

That performance stands as the only double-double ever recorded by a Hawkeye freshman in her first career start.

The 5-8 guard went on to start in the team’s 13 remaining games, compiling a 2.3 assist-turnover ratio across the final 14. Her performance earned her a selection to the coaches All-Big Ten Freshman team.

Now, with the graduation of point guard Kristi Smith — Iowa’s eighth all-time leading scorer — not only will Wahlin be asked to be better, she’ll also be asked to play the point.

Fortunately for Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder and the rest of the Hawkeyes, it’s not anything new for Wahlin. Bluder calls it Wahlin’s “natural position,” and it’s hard to argue when considering Wahlin’s high school résumé.

The sophomore led Crookston (Minn.) High School to a 114-18 record as the team’s starting point guard.

When asked about the loss of five seniors from last year at the team’s media day on Oct. 14, Bluder emphasized the return of quality players this season.

Among the first mentioned? Wahlin.

“Yeah, she’s going to replace Kristi at point guard,” Bluder said. “But at the same time, she had some great quality experience last year. I think she didn’t back down to anyone in the Big Ten conference. It gives us great confidence.”

It should. In addition to her sparkling assist-turnover ratio, Wahlin shot 76.1 percent from the charity stripe and drained 29 3-pointers, third most by any Hawkeye last season.

Thanks to confidence stemming from that phenomenal freshman year, plus a combination of her previous point-guard experience and the tutelage of Smith, Wahlin appears more than ready to take her game to the next level.

And some of her teammates, such as Iowa’s lone senior JoAnn Hamlin, say she already has.

“I don’t know what she changed, but she’s gotten a lot better,” Hamlin said at the team’s media day. “Her outside shooting has always been really good. She’s gotten a lot better at just being able to take it to the hoop, and make crossover moves in the lane, and get past people. Her passing has gotten a lot better. I’m excited to see her play against somebody else.”

Hamlin, as well as the public, will get that opportunity on Nov. 8 when Iowa hosts Washburn in an exhibition beginning at 3 p.m. Wahlin is expected to start at the point guard spot.

Still, position won’t be the only thing Wahlin will take over where Smith left off. Just as Smith taught Wahlin what she knew about being a floor general, Wahlin will be expected to do the same for point guard Trisha Nesbitt, as well as other freshmen.

And who knows — those freshmen may be in Wahlin’s sneakers in the near future.

“I’m just going to approach it as just trying to be a teacher to the younger girls that came in,” Wahlin said at the team’s media day. “I’m just going to try to teach them what [Kristi] taught me and make them feel real comfortable here.”


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