Jensen has a big role within women’s basketball team

BY MATT COZZI | MARCH 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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Jan Jensen’s BlackBerry rang five times in a 15-minute span on Tuesday.

For Jensen — who has been the associate head coach at Iowa for eight seasons now and 11 total as an Iowa coach — that cell phone can do wonders in terms of recruiting and social media.

And sometimes, the two are intertwined.

Jensen’s competitive drive has led Iowa to new recruiting heights, and ESPN HoopGurlz has ranked next fall’s class as No. 11 in the nation.

“Coach Jensen brings her competitive playing attitude to what she does today,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “She’s a huge part of our recruiting efforts. She’s so good at establishing relationships with the players and their parents.”

During the season, overseeing the recruiting process can be a challenging task. Jensen said there have been times this season when members of the coaching staff have been on the recruiting trail between games.

Aside from the physical demand, there are specifics that need to be handled in the office, particularly contacting players via social media — a relatively new phenomenon in women’s college basketball recruiting.

Facebook and Twitter are becoming the primary source of communication and program promotion between coaches and prospective players.

“Kids just don’t do e-mail anymore,” Jensen said. “You still have to do it, but then you figure out what kids are on Facebook and direct message them. Twitter is catching on more and more now for the high-school kids. Players are slowly starting to get on it.

“You have to be smart on what you put out there [as a coach]. I always think that if I have one of the top recruits reading my Tweets, what would she get out of our team? It’s amazing how Twitter has taken off more.”

Indeed it has. In fact, Jensen has used Twitter a lot throughout this season, giving Hawkeye women’s basketball fans more of a behind-the-scenes look.

While Jensen said functioning as the “in” for the program is perhaps a scary thought, she doesn’t deny that she essentially serves as the earpiece for the team — both to those within and outside it.

Senior Kachine Alexander said that in her four years at Iowa, Jensen has had a huge influence on the program.

“Coach J is always talking,” Alexander said. “She’s always talking no matter what, teaching us new things.”

A quick glance at Jensen’s Twitter feed, and it’s filled with information about the Hawkeyes and her interactions with fans. As of Tuesday afternoon, Jensen has accumulated 564 followers on the popular social networking site.

The Kimbalton, Iowa, native said that because women’s basketball generally tends to get less attention compared with other college sports, presence on social media can be a tremendous tool.

“When we do get the crowds, we are so appreciative and grateful for it,” she said. “It’s not something that we take for granted, which is why something like Twitter is really important for us. It’s another way that fans can feel connected to our program.”

While Jensen has kept up the information flow for Iowa women’s basketball, she said, she still has some things to work on when it comes to Twitter and interacting with the people and fans that are interested.

“I think I could be funnier,” she said and laughed. “I’m going to work on being a little more clever after the season is over.”

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