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Bench depth coming up big for Hawks

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | NOVEMBER 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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When people think of the Iowa women’s basketball team, their dynamic senior corps of Sam Logic, Melissa Dixon, and Bethany Doolittle is probably the first thing that comes to mind, and for good reason.

The three have been key pieces to the success of the Hawkeyes in the past, and with some big performances in the early part of this season, it looks like that trend is set to continue.

And while there’s no doubt whether the leadership and experience of those three, along with sophomore starter Ally Disterhoft, have helped forge the identity of the Hawks, head coach Lisa Bluder has gotten some massive contributions from her bench early on that has helped bolster her team.

If the trend holds true throughout the rest of the season, Iowa will no doubt boast one of the deepest and most well-rounded attacks in the Big Ten as well as the country.

Bluder said there’s not much else she can ask for.

“To have five people in double figures for the night is a good sign,” Bluder said after the team’s 107-56 win over South Carolina-Upstate on Nov. 14. “I enjoy that level of balance. I think our offense and everyone has clicked really well for this early in the year.”

That same offensive depth was on display front and center in Iowa’s 85-67 win over Robert Morris on Sunday.

With three players coming off the bench to play double-digit minutes, including 21 from freshman Whitney Jennings and 14 from sophomore Alexa Kastanek, the Black and Gold were able to fit their attack for every scenario that arose in game.

What’s more, they chipped in on the scoreboard as well.

Of Iowa’s 85 points, 18 came from the bench, impressive balance considering four of those five players were true freshmen.

“When you have teammates that can move around and find you passing lanes, it really make the offense work well,” junior Kali Peschel said.

Peschel, who started Sunday after coming off the bench against Upstate, is a perfect example of the well-rounded nature of many of Iowa’s players and how Bluder has been able to squeeze the most out of every member of the team. She has scored 25 points in the first two games this year.

And while natural skill is a bonus, Bluder said, she recognizes that Peschel, as with every member of the team, works just as hard regardless of whether she plays three minutes a night or 30.

To see that effort pay off in a game is rewarding.

“Kali is a girl who has worked extremely hard for everything,” Bluder said. “She has really put her heart and soul into this team, so it’s really nice to see it pay off for her like that.”

And while Iowa’s depth has chipped in offensively, its contribution extends beyond the scoreboard.

Freshmen such as Carly Mohns and Chase Coley have stepped up and helped establish a physical presence in the paint. Mohns’ aggressive style has helped push her to fourth on the team in rebounds despite averaging fewer than 10 minutes a game.

“Carly has done a good job crashing the boards for us so far this year,” Bluder said. “That’s been nice to see. I thought all of younger players have done very well with what they’ve been given so far.”

Follow @ryanarod on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s basketball team.


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