Wahlin perseveres through injury
Kamille Wahlin isn’t only a starting point guard.
On the hardwood, she controls the action for the Iowa women’s basketball team, effectively distributing the ball and draining shots.
But the sophomore’s value has been most visible during her recent bout with injury.
Severe back spasms prior to Iowa’s game against Penn State on Jan. 14 transformed the Hawkeyes’ previously bumpy Big Ten road into a decrepit brick boulevard haunted by adversity.
Wahlin’s pain heavily hampered her performance during her team’s two losses nearly two weeks ago.
When Iowa fell to the Penn State, 68-62, and Purdue, 81-59, on Jan. 17, the 5-8 guard scored a combined eight points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field.
She also turned the ball over nine times while only collecting three assists.
But somehow, the outlook still had room to worsen for the Hawkeyes.
It eventually did.
During a Jan. 19 press conference, Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said Wahlin’s back issues had escalated, leaving the Minnesota native questionable for the team’s next contest against Illinois.
“She can barely walk right now normally,” Bluder said at the time. “So it’s pretty tough [for Wahlin] to be out on the floor and play. That’s a big blow to our team.”
Bluder’s Bunch shared the coach’s sentiments. Later that day, junior guard Kachine Alexander said her teammate’s injury left the Hawkeyes “with not really any subs at the guard … It’s going to be a little rough for us.”
Two days later, Iowa traveled across the Mississippi River to play the Fighting Illini. The Hawkeyes, 1-6 in Big Ten play and trying to climb out of the conference cellar, were desperate for their first conference road win of the year with Wahlin seeing potentially limited playing time.
The border clash with Illinois didn’t appear promising.
But in 31 gritty minutes, Wahlin drained four 3-pointers and collected six rebounds, helping the Hawkeyes to a 74-65 triumph in Champaign, Ill.
Then, she delivered again on Sunday against Northwestern in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. With a back not yet 100-percent healthy — but good enough to play with and improving — Wahlin posted 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting in a 78-69 victory over the Wildcats.
“It’s a tremendous difference,” Bluder said on Sunday. “I mean, when you have Kamille healthy, you have that additional offense — obviously. She knows the system, and she is our floor general out there, so that means a lot, you know, to have her healthy. We’re just glad she’s on the mend.”
Wahlin later said her back felt a little sore following the win, but her injury had improved a lot.
Although Iowa’s 3-6 Big Ten record all but eliminates them from NCAA Tournament contention, Wahlin’s fortitude helped the Hawkeyes deliver their first back-to-back wins since Dec. 20-22, 2009.
She also gave her team an extra elevation with nine games remaining in the season.
“It feels good, especially getting two wins in a row, and it was great to get a win on the road [at Illinois on Jan. 21],” Wahlin said. “I think it’s going to help our confidence, and we’re just going to try to keep building off the couple wins.”
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