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Iowa Women's Basketball Notebook: Iowa preps for season opener

BY JACOB SHEYKO | NOVEMBER 07, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s basketball team just got even smaller.

After only three minutes of game time in the Hawkeyes’ exhibition match against Concordia-St. Paul on Nov. 3, in which Nicole Smith scored 2 points and grabbed 2 rebounds, she was taken to the locker room and sat for the rest of the game.

The team announced Tuesday that Smith has a torn meniscus, a tear that head coach Lisa Bluder said is the “5 percent kind that actually has to be sutured.” Smith is expected to miss 10 to 14 weeks after she undergoes surgery on Friday.

“A blow to our program, a blow to our depth, she was the tallest player on our team,” Bluder said. “… She had made a drastic change in her game from last year to this year. What bothers me the most is seeing a kid who worked so hard in the off-season; I just want them to be rewarded, and she is not going to get the reward for all the work she put in during the off season.”

The loss is a blow for the Hawkeyes, who only have 10 scholarship players on the roster. Smith was to be the backup center behind Bethany Doolittle before suffering the injury. Sophomore Claire Till will now take over the role underneath the basket instead of playing power forward.

“It really sucks for what Nicole has to go through and what we have to help her through,” Till said. “But as far as me having to go to the 5 and play that position right away, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Big expectations for the freshmen

With the injury to Smith, the play of Iowa’s two freshmen — Alexa Kastanek and Ally Disterhoft — becomes more important than ever.

Luckily for the head coach Lisa Bluder, both Kastanek and Disterhoft have shown signs that they are ready for the college level.

During Iowa’s exhibition game against Concordia-St. Paul, the two freshmen combined for 20 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds.

Kastanek is expected to fill in mostly at the guard spot, where she played for the majority of the exhibition game. Disterhoft, on the other hand, may play anywhere from shooting guard to power forward.

“I think I just need to be able to play as many positions as I can,” Disterhoft said. “Whenever my name’s called, just be ready to go in whether it’s on the perimeter or in the post.”

Up-tempo style of play

With this year’s Hawkeye squad, playing up-tempo has been a point of emphasis for Bluder.

Luckily for her, she has a point guard in Sam Logic that looks forward to pushing the pace.

“When I told her that we were going to try to be more of an up-tempo team this year, her eyes just got big,” Bluder said. “She had a big smile on her face and was ready to go.”

The amount of trust Logic has from Bluder to run this offense is certainly apparent as well.

“I trust Sam doing just about anything,” Bluder said. “If I needed my oil changed, I’d trust Sam, and I have never seen her do anything like that.”

Obviously, there are worries about the wear and tear of any team that plays up-tempo. Especially one that has only 10 active players on its roster — eight of which will see significant playing time. However, Bluder doesn’t think this is the case.

“I think we need to do it even more so now,” Bluder said. “With Claire [Till] playing the 5, that gives us another real nice runner at that position. We need to get down and run our offense before their team has time to set up in their defense.”


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