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Taylor’s swift return to Iowa lineup helps women’s basketball

BY CARLOS SOSA | DECEMBER 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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Theairra Taylor missed 53 games from 2009 through 2011 because of several ACL injuries. To start this season however, Taylor has started every game for the Hawkeyes.

“I think Theairra has grown immensely from what she’s come off of from her injury,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “She’s taking more pride in her defense and rebounding right now.”

Taylor has always had the offensive ability to compete on the Division-I level. But during her rehab and off-season workouts, the junior guard’s focus changed. She began to put more emphasis on defense in order to become a more complete player.

“We have so many scorers on this team that where we do need someone to step up is on the defensive end,” Taylor said. “At first, coaches were trying to keep me out of the rough spots, but I don’t want to play it safe. If I do go down again, I want it to be playing the way I like to play.”

Through nine games this season, Taylor has averaged 6 points and 5 rebounds per contest. Her ability to rebound has halted opponent’s opportunities for second-chance points — Taylor has registered 39 out of her 45 rebounds on defense thus far.

“She is so athletic and reads the ball off the rim amazingly well,” point guard Sam Logic said. “She’s usually guarding one of the top scorers on the other team, so when they’re taking shots we can crash the defensive boards and that helps gain our possessions.”

With Taylor’s help, Iowa is currently ranked fifth in the Big Ten in rebounding with an average of 40 boards per game. The Hawkeyes are also third in defensive rebounding with 29 per game.

Taylor has also meshed well with Iowa’s starting lineup. The St. Paul, Minn., native can be a threat offensively, but the play of guard Jaime Printy and center Morgan Johnson allows her to be more effective in other areas while still having the trust of her teammates to hit open shots.

“She gets more shots off because people don’t see that in her as much,” Logic said. “We have the utmost confidence in her shooting. She’s a combo player, and people are more worried about her drives, so that’ll open her up to shoot more for us.”

Taylor and her teammates will have their hands full when the Hawkeyes (6-3) take on No. 22 Iowa State (5.-0) tonight. The Cyclones’ Brynn Williamson is ranked top 10 in the Big 12 in both steals and blocks, while also ranking third in 3-point shooting.

“I’ve developed an in-state rivalry even though I’m not from here,” Taylor said. “Those girls can all shoot, they can all put it on the floor, they have good post play, and they play a lot like us. It’ll be a great game.”

The success Taylor has seen thus far this season has been beneficial to the Hawkeyes. But her teammates and coaches know that Taylor has yet to reach her potential.

“Theairra’s best days are yet to come,” Bluder said.


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