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Kali Peschel: Iowa women's basketball's well-kept secret

BY MATT CABEL | DECEMBER 19, 2013 5:00 AM

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It seems that, despite the fact that earning her way into the starting lineup over coveted freshman Ally Disterhoft, Iowa women’s basketball’s starting forward Kali Peschel is overlooked by the opposition.

But that doesn’t upset her — it’s motivation.

“It motivates me to want to make a play for my team and know that this is my time to take advantage and step up to the plate,” Peschel said.

It’s difficult to blame opposing teams with such names as Samantha Logic and Melissa Dixon appearing consistently in the box score— Peschel may seem like just another body on the floor.

“Everyone else on our team has such a significant scoring role,” Peschel said. “That’s beneficial for the team, for me; if they underestimate me, I’m able to make the drive and the pitch for the team, or the team is able to make plays for me.”

Peschel saw minimal playing time during her freshman year, and she averages 7.1 points per game now. But the sophomore has make big contributions to the team since its first game, and it’s starting to show. Teams may not overlook her forever.

“Any day, she could be in double figures; she’ real close as it is,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I think Kali’s also playing tremendous defense for us. She’s learned to be physical inside when she has to be, she’s long-armed, she anticipates well, she understands our zone defense as well as anyone on the court.”

Before the season began, Bluder was unsure who would start at the power forward position after the departure of Morgan Johnson moved Bethany Doolittle to the No. 5 spot after spending every game last season at No. 4.

Peschel ultimately won the spot over sophomore Claire Till and Disterhoft.

“Last year, I was disappointed in how I did as an individual,” Peschel said about working her way into the starting lineup. “… I knew I wasn’t playing my game.”

So she worked in the off-season to further develop her confidence and discover any way that she could help her teammates. Rebounding was the solution.

“She knows [offensive rebounds are] a way she can contribute,” Bluder said. “… That’s something she has direct control over: how hard she crashes and the effort she puts into getting that … you not only get a second opportunity, but a lot of the time you’re second opportunity that’s a very good look that often- times draws a foul.”

Rebounding hasn’t always been a staple of Peschel’s performance during her entire career. It’s something that she was taught at Iowa that is quickly drawing applause and bringing emphasis to crashing the glass to the entire team.

The Sauk Centre, Minn., native is second on the team in total rebounds, behind freshman Disterhoft by 1 rebound. Peschel has grabbed 75 rebounds in 12 games and is averaging 6.3 per game. She is the team’s leader in offensive rebounds, with 30, 8 more than Disterhoft or Doolittle.

“If she has no chance [at getting the rebound], she’s still going, she’s making you box her out every single time — and from boxing her out in practice, it sucks,” Logic said. “… That wears on a defense, and even if it’s not her getting the rebound, she’ll get someone else open for a rebound. She has a great heart to get there — she just wants it more than anyone else, and that’s why she gets them.”

Against Syracuse on Dec. 5, Peschel played what was arguably her best game of her career at Iowa, scoring 10 points, pulling down 8 boards, and dishing out 6 assists. She was an integral part of the team’s comeback from as many as 14 points, and she made a statement about Bluder’s confidence in choosing to make Peschel the starting forward.

“She does so many things for us: finishing plays, and-1s, hustle plays — if there’s a ball on the floor, you know Kali’s going to be right there,” Logic said. “If there’s an offensive rebound, she’s going to be in the vicinity of it, even if she doesn’t get it, putting the stress on the defense.

“She’s going to be around, and that’s bothersome for a defense.”


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