Nesbitt’s return helps the Hawkeyes to 20-point win

BY JON FRANK | JANUARY 17, 2011 7:10 AM

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Standing from the perimeter, sophomore Trisha Nesbitt sunk a deep 3-pointer to further No. 16 Iowa’s distance from Indiana (8-10, 2-4) in the Hawkeyes’ 71-51 victory.

Prior to her recent reactivation, the Ames native spent the games from a fold-out chair on the bench, watching her teammates compete.

It was painful. Perhaps more painful than the injury that put her there.

Because of a partially ruptured plantar fascia suffered before the season-opener, Nesbitt was unable to compete. Although the pain hasn’t completely subsided, the sophomore guard decided to return to action. With solid playing time, Nesbitt contributes to a resurgent bench.

In Sunday’s 20-point shellacking, Bluder’s Bunch found solace in a productive and deep bench presence — something that was lacking in October when scheduled practice began.

With Nesbitt’s recent return to action, the numbers continue to grow. Bluder — who was shorthanded at the beginning of the season with a roster that dressed eight — has seen her team’s depth balloon to 11 players.

“I really like that we had 17 bench points today,” Bluder said following the victory. “Sometimes our bench has not been very effective, and today they were.”

Nesbitt’s return is a blessing for a Hawkeye team in the midst of a challenging Big Ten schedule.

Unfortunately for her teammates, however, she is well short of 100 percent.

“Once I get on the court a little bit more, I’ll get my confidence back,” she said. “It’s going to be hard [to get back to 100 percent]. I can’t just go condition. I would have to be on the bike. And it’s really hard to get in shape when you can’t condition with basketball-type things.”

Nesbitt’s decision to return, though beneficial to a team that relied on her as the first guard in off the bench last season, isn’t without risk.

Injury lurks with every sprint down court. The injury that sidelined the Iowa guard hasn’t completely healed, but after months of frustration watching her teammates compete as she sat idly, she decided to risk further tearing.

“I was a little nervous about it,” she said. “But I decided that I’m going to be more susceptible to it than anybody else at this point because I’ve already torn it … I just figured I got to be here for my team and just go for it.”

Nesbitt admitted that the prospect to play with Wooden Award semifinalist Kachine Alexander also played a part in her decision to return.

“I remember one of the first things I said when I got hurt,” she said. “I went to the doctors, and they said it would be like six months or something … I started crying, and I was like that means I don’t get to play with Kach ever again.”

Although Nesbitt isn’t 100 percent, she’s made strides since her midseason début against Minnesota on Jan. 2, in which she made a short, four-minute appearance.

In 13 minutes on Sunday, Nesbitt produced a season-high four points. It was also the most active role she’s played for the team this season.

Sophomore teammate Jaime Printy said the increasingly reliable bench production — sparked by Nesbitt’s return — has helped the team as a whole.

“I’m definitely happy that Trisha is back,” Printy said. “She’s a great backup point guard, and it helps our whole team that everyone can just stay in her own position.”

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