Hansen fitting in after transfer

BY MATT COZZI | JANUARY 18, 2011 7:10 AM

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Kalli Hansen isn’t used to coming off the bench. Yet, in a way, she embraces it.

An integral component of the Iowa women’s basketball team’s success this season has been the bench play, as seen in the team’s 71-51 win against Indiana on Jan. 16. That bench includes Hansen, who is in her first year at Iowa after transferring from Kirkwood Community College.

In defeating the Hoosiers for the Hawkeyes’ third conference victory, every healthy player on the Iowa roster played in the game, and by the time the final buzzer sounded, the reserves had posted 17 points. The spark those players bring to the hardwood is important to the team’s energy level.

Hansen understands that.

Following a back injury that kept her shelved earlier in the season, the 5-11 junior has logged significant minutes since Big Ten play began.

“I was expecting to play a few minutes here and there; I wasn’t expecting to come in and get a ton of minutes,” Hansen said. “Just as I’ve gotten healthier, I’ve been allowed and blessed to play more minutes, and I’m just trying to be as productive as I can.”

She is on her way.

In a season-high 19 minutes of play at Minnesota, Hansen scored seven points and had eight rebounds. She was a big reason for the win against the Golden Gophers — she made the game-tying 3-pointer and go-ahead free throws in the final minutes of the game.

The Olin, Iowa, native said while her role has certainly changed since last year at Kirkwood, she knows what she needs to bring to this current Hawkeye squad.

“I bring a lot of energy and just try to be that role player who is able to do the little things,” she said. “Help the team do its best.”

Among the players, there is no question what kind of effect Hansen and other reserves can have during a game, especially after a raft of injuries on last year’s team.

“I think it’s really nice for us to have numbers back, especially for practices,” sophomore Trisha Nesbitt said. “Just having more legs and being able to have subs so we can go even harder in the games.

Despite her role reversal at Iowa, Hansen remains grateful to be a part of this 2011-12 season.

Head coach Lisa Bluder said while Hansen’s scenario isn’t the easiest to handle, she seems to have done that.

“I think Kalli really respects her teammates,” Bluder said. “She sees how hard they all work, and she knew she had some things to learn about our offense and the way we play defense, which might be totally different from what they did at Kirkwood.

“So there was a growing curve that she had to adjust to, and I think she’s adjusted to it now and is doing really well. As far as her mentality, I think you can see she’s handled it really well.”

Hansen, a health and sport-studies major, said she has enjoyed her experience at Iowa so far and is looking forward to the rest of the season.

And what does she think of the Hawkeyes’ potentially high ceiling?

“I don’t think there is a ceiling,” Hansen said. “The sky’s the limit. This is definitely the best team I’ve ever played for, and we’re just one big family. Everyone has each other’s back, and that’s pretty awesome.”

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