|

Commentary: Hawks off to soaring start

BY MATT CABEL | DECEMBER 17, 2013 5:00 AM

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

I’m not really sure what I expected to see from this year’s iteration of the Iowa women’s basketball team.

On paper, you have a team with extremely talented players, including Sam Logic, Theairra Taylor, and Melissa Dixon, who were all big contributors last season to a Hawkeye team that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. You have freshmen Ally Disterhoft and Alexa Kastanek coming in after highly praised prep careers, and of course, head coach Lisa Bluder, a fantastic coach at the helm of a strong program.

But you never know. Dixon opened up the season in a shooting slump, for example. Sometimes, freshmen with tremendous potential come into college and take time to adjust to the height, speed, and regimen of Division I basketball.

But that hasn’t been the case for Lisa Bluder’s latest squad. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. The Hawkeyes have one of the best records in the Big Ten at 10-2, having lost only to Colorado and Iowa State on the road, and players are starting to emerge in the national spotlight.

Logic, for example was named Big Ten Player of the Week in the first week of the season, and she has chipped a tooth and had to receive some seven or eight stitches on her forehead in a thrilling contest versus ACC counterpart Syracuse, all in the name of the game of basketball.

And when Logic has been forced to leave games because of injury— which happened to be against ranked opponents both times — her freshman backup Kastanek has managed to keep Iowa in the game.

For a team with a primary rotation of only seven players, that’s pretty impressive.

Disterhoft has been a force off the bench, becoming one of the team’s leading rebounders and finding great success getting to the free-throw line for old-fashioned 3-point plays. She’s been a sight to see, and she’s drawn praise from her coaches all season.

Sure, I expected this team to be good, but maybe not this good, this early. Two wins over teams that were ranked higher than them is downright impressive, despite the Dayton Flyers, who were once ranked 14, no longer being in the Top 25.

The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, are ranked 22nd after dropping last week’s contest against Iowa State. Considering that last season, the Hawkeyes went in and out of the rankings despite numerous wins against ranked teams and numerous losses that should have been wins, this is a sign of respect for the program and its coaching staff that the team shouldn’t ignore.

Maybe I wrote off this year’s version of the Black and Gold a little bit, but I don’t think I ever completely doubted the team’s ability to win. It would take a lot of disasters to take a team that had so much success last season to metaphorically fall off the face of the planet this season and not make its seventh-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

But there’s always that possibility — the chance that Nicole Smith’s injury mere minutes into an exhibition game left the team one player short for its needed rotation, the chance that Dixon’s shooting slump continued through the team’s trip to Cancún and beyond.

But these worries are finished now, and the team is off to a fantastic start, sparse roster and all. And with Big Ten play coming up soon, we have yet to see the true potential of this persistent bunch.

If the 12 games so far are any indication, buckle up. Because it’s going to be fun, up-and-down ride.


In today's issue:





 
Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.