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Doolittle gives women's hoops extra post presence

BY MATT COZZI | DECEMBER 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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Bethany Doolitte is familiar with last year's Iowa women's basketball team.

She knows the Hawkeyes lacked size on its roster. She recognizes the Black and Gold didn't have a backup post player behind starting center Morgan Johnson.

Doolittle, a true freshman, has started to fill that hole for head coach Lisa Bluder's team.

"I knew there was just one true center on the team [last season], and I knew I'd have to step up right away and get some minutes right away," Doolittle said.

So far, so good for the 6-4 center.

Doolittle has averaged 3.9 points and 12.6 minutes per game and has noted 7 blocks in her first 10 college games.

Iowa's coaching staff has seen progress from the Oakdale, Minn., native. Doolittle played 10 and 15 minutes in the Hawkeyes' first two games of the season, for example, but didn't record any rebounds.

But she posted 8 points and 3 rebounds in 17 minutes of play in lowa's next game, against Albany

"I'm really happy for Bethany," Bluder said after the Albany game. "She shot the ball well, [and] I think she had some really nice passes. We set her up, but she got herself in position by running the court and getting herself in position to score … I think we saw a jump in Bethany tonight."

Iowa has received consistent production from Doolittle since facing Albany, and the transition from having one post player in 2010-11 to having Doolittle — and even fellow freshman Virginia Johnson — has been beneficial for the team as a whole.

"It's just going to make me more comfortable," Morgan Johnson said. "Bethany is a great post to back me, and she'll be fine when she's in there to back me up."

Morgan Johnson has suffered from minor knee issues this season, including in Iowa's last game against Western Illinois, when she played just eight minutes.

Her limited availability last week gave increased time to Doolittle and Virginia Johnson, though, and they had perhaps their best games to date against the Leathernecks.

Doolittle recorded 6 points and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes and Johnson added 8 points and a team-high 9 rebounds in 18 minutes.

Both have said Morgan Johnson helped ease their transitions from prep basketball to Division-I.

"It's been really smooth so far. Morgan has been really helpful, and lets us know what we're doing wrong and how to do it right," Doolittle said. "She's a really good mentor out on the floor."

Last season was one of the better years in school history, but the Hawkeyes' desperate need for more post players was repeatedly visible.

They have that this time around in the freshman duo of Doolittle and Virginia Johnson.

"I think this was a catalyst for the rest of the season," Doolittle said after the pair's breakthrough game against Western Illinois.

"We had a little slow patch there for a while, and I think this game really helped us get back energized and ready for the next part of the season."

Follow DI Assistant Sports Editor Matt Cozzi on Twitter.


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