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‘Bluder’s Bunch’ looks for win against No. 19 Kansas

BY EVELYN LAU | NOVEMBER 18, 2009 7:21 AM

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After sweeping through the KCRG-TV9 Hawkeye Challenge, the Iowa women’s basketball team will try to build on its winning streak.

But standing in the way is the team that handed the Hawkeyes their first loss last season — the Kansas Jayhawks.

After a disappointing 76-55 defeat in Lawrence, Kan., Iowa (2-0) will try for redemption when it hosts the No. 19 Jayhawks (1-0) in Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 7 p.m. today.

“This year, I think we’ll be a little bit more prepared for what we’re going to see against Kansas,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We can remember that [loss] pretty vividly and what that was like.”

The Jayhawks return three starters from last year’s squad, which lost in the championship game of the WNIT. Kansas, previously ranked No. 20 in the preseason polls, moved up a spot following a 106-80 win in its season-opener against Oral Roberts.

Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Danielle McCray led the Jayhawks in that victory with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists.

“They’re incredibly athletic,” Bluder said. “This is a very good basketball team. Again, you’re not picked to finish second in the Big 12 if you’re not a good team and have the player of the year in the Big 12 on your team. That’s amazing statistics right there.”

With four Iowa players out because of injuries — freshmen Gabby Machado (ankle) and Theairra Taylor (eye), sophomore Hannah Draxten (back), and senior JoAnn Hamlin (leg) — the Hawkeyes will turn toward their youth.

Iowa’s starting lineup will consist of sophomore Kamille Wahlin and junior Kachine Alexander at guard, freshman Jaime Printy and sophomore Kelly Krei at forward, and freshman Morgan Johnson at center.

“It’s really exciting,” Printy said. “It will be a really good challenge for our team. We’re just going to have to step up big for this one, but it’s going to be a really fun game.”

The Hawkeyes are led by Alexander, the co-Big Ten Player of the Week who is averaging 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 1/2 assists in two games. She was also named the MVP of the Hawkeye Challenge.

Another key to Iowa’s early success is Krei’s 3-point shooting. In the Hawkeyes’ home tournament, she shot 57.1 percent from behind the arc. Over the summer, she said, she worked on becoming more consistent with the shot.

“Last year, I wasn’t really a threat from outside,” she said. “So early in the season, yes, I wouldn’t expect them to know [about my shooting] because they haven’t been with me this summer. But maybe they’ll learn, and maybe I’ll go cold. Who knows?”

After losing five seniors from last year, Bluder believes there is untapped potential in the squad. With unexpected injuries plaguing the team so early in the season, the coach hopes her squad uses its unfavorable circumstances as motivation.

“We don’t have a lot of kids on our team who played there last year,” she said. “At the same time, we’ve got a lot of things to motivate us right now. With the type of injuries that we have, that is motivation in itself. I think that we just need to really be appreciative that we have health, and we have the ability to go out and play and to play as hard as we can.”


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