‘Improvement’ the name of Game Time

BY WILL MCDAVID | JUNE 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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After the release of the team’s nonconference schedule, Iowa women’s basketball is again in the spotlight, the focus of its fans having shifted from the team’s bittersweet second-round NCAA exit to a future full of possibility. With all of the team’s returning players participating, the Game Time Basketball League has provided Iowa athletes with a competitive setting to hone their skills and build on last year’s success.

After only two weeks of play, they might have given fans a reason to be excited.

“It’s been great seeing everyone work on her game,” Iowa’s all-time assist leader Sam Logic said. “Kali [Peschel] attacking the basket in this game, [Melissa] Dixon last week was lights out, Ally [Disterhoft] just attacking like that, and Bethany [Doolittle] is just unstoppable.”

Logic said the benefit of Game Time lies in a style of play less rigid than the structured sets typical of NCAA competition, granting players the freedom to explore and expand their abilities. For the Iowa senior, simply “letting the reins loose a little bit” has had a profound effect on her play.

The advantages of this more relaxed variant of competition are obvious for a point guard such as Logic, known for her knack for on-court improvisation. This holds equally true for incoming freshman and Gatorade Player of the Year Whiney Jennings, her fast, freewheeling game a perfect fit for a league light on play calling.

“She’s quick as heck,” Logic said. “She has a really good handle on the ball. We’re looking forward to getting her into our system, seeing what she could do to help our team. I think it will be a lot.”

By almost any measure, the 2013-14 regular season was a resounding success for Iowa women’s basketball, the Hawkeyes boasting the Big Ten’s most high-scoring offense, as well as a top-25 national ranking. However, center Nicole Smith ranks among the many Iowa players whose attention is set squarely on improvement.

For Smith, the progress of fellow Game Time members has the junior center eager for scheduled rematches with Colorado and Louisville, the latter having eliminated the Hawkeyes from tournament play.

“We’re happy that we get a chance at Louisville and Colorado again too,” Smith said. “[Colorado] got us on their home court by 3 last season, so we’re looking forward to playing them again.”

Smith’s forward-looking perspective is reflective of a team-wide outlook, specifically, a concentration on continued development. Their summer-league experience has allowed them to do just that, all the while sending a powerful message — though the team takes pride in the positive, this group is far from content.

“I think they made our schedule tougher this year to help us get further in the tournament later down the road,” Peschel said. “We were really happy with how last year went, but we’re hungry for more, and we just want to keep improving year by year. In Game Time, we’re getting to work on that.”

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