Bluder praises Johnson


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Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder opened her Tuesday press conference in Carver-Hawkeye Arena by congratulating her starting center, Morgan Johnson, for winning Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.

This week marked fourth time a Hawkeye had been recognized as Freshman of the Week in the conference this season. Jaime Printy earned the distinction on Nov. 30, 2009, Jan. 4, and Jan. 26.
“This is pretty special to get [Johnson’s] first opportunity to be named Freshman of the Week,” Bluder said. “It’s nice that we’ve had two different players receive that honor now. Obviously, that speaks well for our future.”

Johnson’s honor comes after she posted 16 points and 11 rebounds — her third double-double of the season — in Iowa’s 70-50 win over Purdue on Sunday. The Platte City, Mo., native hit her first seven shots from the field and also recorded two blocks.

But Bluder noted Johnson’s job “doesn’t get any easier.” Iowa’s next two games — at No. 8 Ohio State (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten) on Thursday and at home against Michigan State (14-7, 5-5) on Saturday — will see Johnson match up against two of the Big Ten’s premier post players.

The Buckeyes boast Associated Press preseason All-American Jantel Lavender, and the Spartans are powered by the 6-9 Allyssa DeHaan.

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Bluder pursuing medical redshirts

Bluder also announced she is seeking medical redshirts from the NCAA, which would allow for extra years of eligibility for sophomore Hannah Draxten, senior JoAnn Hamlin, and freshman Theairra Taylor.

After talking to Associate Athletics Director Fred Mims, Bluder said the outlook for Hamlin to get a sixth year “isn’t very optimistic.”

“But my feeling is that if there’s a 1 or 2 percent chance that she can get it, we need to fight for her,” Bluder said. “I think we owe that to her in all that she’s been through.”

The issue in Hamlin gaining an extra year is her transfer to Iowa following her freshman season at Kansas State. NCAA transfer rules kept her from competing during the 2006-07 season, although she practiced with the Hawkeyes.

Bluder said if Hamlin had had two years of medical redshirts, she most likely would have been awarded a sixth year.

“Her feelings are that it wasn’t really her choice,” Bluder said. “That she could not have stayed at Kansas State.”

She said Draxten meets all the qualifications to receive a medical redshirt and should be eligible for another year of eligibility without question.

Taylor is a different story, however. Under NCAA rules, a player can only play in 30 percent of a team’s contests to be eligible. Taylor tore her ACL in Iowa’s game against South Dakota State on Dec. 22, 2009 — her 10th game of the season.

With eight games left on the Hawkeyes’ regular-season slate, as well as at least one game in the Big Ten Tournament, Iowa will have competed in at least 30 games.

“She was eight minutes into her game No. 10,” Bluder said. “Well, 30 percent of 30 [games] is obviously nine [games], so she was eight minutes over the medical-hardship number. Now, if we can play in a couple of postseason extra games, that number gets moved up to 32 and 33. Now, she becomes eligible for a medical hardship.”

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