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Dohnalek keeps up with college girls on the court

BY TOM GOLDHAMMER | JULY 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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Monday night's Game Time League action was physical — 28 fouls were dished out between Vinton Merchants/McCurry's and Cullen Painting/Monica's and Bob's Your Uncle.

And incoming Northern Iowa freshman Erin Dohnalek was happy to take part in the physical play.

Dohnalek tore her ACL in June 2011, and she was sidelined for nine months in a brace. It didn't take long after those grueling months of rehabilitation before she found herself back on the court, however.

Dohnalek knee looked up to speed, as she kept up with her more experienced competition on the defensive end of the court. Her shining moment came early in the first half, when Iowa redshirt junior Thierra Taylor tried to overtake the freshman. Taylor, a wing who was able to free herself up from head coach Randy Larson's defense for the majority of the night, tried to drive past Dohnalek to the bucket, only to be shut down by the Panther-to-be.

Dohnalek showed consistent effort on the defensive end, but struggled to create her own shot on the other side.

She was successful, however, when she showed signs of aggression on offense, hitting a nifty floater over two defenders a few minutes into the second half. It's a change of pace for the guard out of Kansas City — she is used to being able to control the pace of the game when her team has possession.

"It's a good thing, but it's a little bit different," Dohnalek said. "I'm trying to get the hang of it. I'm used to playing with the ball."

There was no lack of intensity, especially for a woman a little over a year removed from tearing a major ligament. The step up that Dohnalek is taking as an incoming freshman playing against current and former college-hardened women is a competition that she relishes on a nightly basis. A perk of the league is getting to play with and against her future Panther teammates, she said.

"Playing with them really does help," she said. "I see what they do in pickup and workouts, but I don't always see how they are and how they act on the court."

Iowa sophomore Sam Logic commandeered Larson's offense for much of the game, ending with a stat sheet-stuffing night of 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists. Logic said Monday night's game could have been as physical as any game played during the college season.

Dohnalek, despite looking a little overwhelmed playing with the college women, can benefit from the physicality of the Game Time League.

"You always take lessons from the game, try to stay on an even keel," Logic said. "You're not always going to get calls, and the whistles weren't favoring one team over another."

Iowa's Morgan Johnson is no strangers to injuries such as Dohnalek's. The Hawkeye center is rehabbing from knee injuries, but she said her minute-restricted playing time doesn't affect how aggressive she gets on the floor.

Dohnalek can learn a lesson from her Game Time opponent — stay aggressive. No matter what.

"We're all super competitive, and we love playing our teammates out here," Johnson said. "But at the end of the day, we still all want to win."


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