Bluder's Bunch not concerned with preseason rankings

BY JON FRANK | NOVEMBER 05, 2010 7:20 AM

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Iowa head women's basketball coach Lisa Bluder doesn't put much stock in the preseason polls.

But the Hawkeyes find themselves ranked by the AP at No. 22 entering the season. It marks the first time Iowa has appeared in the AP's preseason rankings.

Bluder is more concerned with prepping her team — which returns all five starters from last year — during the first exhibition Nov. 7 against Concordia-St. Paul in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

With the focus of a veteran general, Bluder, in her 11th season as Iowa's head coach, brushed off any implications the preseason praise may have for her team.

"It's great recognition, but it doesn't mean anything," she said. "We want to be there at the end of the year."

Despite her attitude, the preseason respect is evidence of a Hawkeye roster laden with talent, as well as a program rising in NCAA prominence. Bluder's Bunch is projected by both the Big Ten's media as well as its coaches to finish second in the conference behind Ohio State.

Last season marked the third-consecutive year Iowa tallied 20-plus wins. And although they were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 96-67 loss to No. 1 seed Stanford, the postseason run far exceeded the experts' preseason predictions.

The recent success is due in large part to the Hawkeyes' senior guard Kachine Alexander. Named to the "Wade Watch" and Wooden Award preseason lists, the Minneapolis native was named first team All-Big Ten (coaches) in 2010 and claimed the Big Ten rebounding title with 281 rebounds.

Despite the team's high expectations, Alexander may take some time to return to 100 percent. She was forced to spend the majority of the off-season rehabbing after undergoing surgery to have a metal rod implanted in her right leg.

"That was a bummer," she said. "I was out for a week with my ankle, and then I messed up my other leg because I had to put more pressure on that leg."

Despite her off-season difficulties, Bluder expects the seasoned playmaker to return to full strength.
"[Alexander's] not the Kachine of last year yet," Bluder said. "She will be. There's no doubt in my mind that she's going to get there, I just don't know when she's going to get there."

Squad faces depth issues

Iowa will enter the season hobbling.

In addition to Alexander, sophomore guard Theairra Taylor suffered an ACL and lateral meniscus tear and will likely sit out the entire season. Sophomore guard Trisha Nesbitt partially ruptured the plantar fascia in her right foot. The date for her return is not known.

Bluder also announced that junior forward Kalli Hansen will not dress for Sunday's exhibition because of back pain, but she is expected to return for the season-opener on Nov. 12.

"We are used to [dealing with injuries] because of last year," sophomore Jaime Printy said. "At first we were all excited because we had some subs on the bench … but it's something we have to deal with."

Alexander named candidate for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

Alexander joins the ranks of 30 Division I women's basketball players selected to the list for the award that recognizes student-athletes who make a positive impact in their community.

To be nominated, athletes must show excellence in community, classroom, character, and competition. Alexander volunteers at Camp Courageous, an Iowa City camp for those with disabilities, and she has volunteered for the March of Dimes, the Ronald McDonald House, the ACS Hope Lodge, and the Shelter House.

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