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Disterhoft will headline new-look Hawkeyes in 2015-2016

BY KYLE MANN | APRIL 01, 2015 5:00 AM

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After losing its Sweet 16 matchup to Baylor on March 27, the Iowa women’s basketball team is likely still basking in the warmth of a historic season amid the sadness of sending off a historic senior class. When the Hawkeyes get around to it, they’ll be refreshed to realize that looking ahead, they’ll reload rather than rebuild.

The impact of losing seniors Sam Logic, Bethany Doolittle, and Melissa Dixon cannot be softened. The trio, along with Kathryn Reynolds, were the senior class with the most wins in 21 years and achieved numerous individual records. Despite that, the Hawkeyes will not be bereft of talent next season.

Meet Ally Disterhoft, your new star player. She’s already familiar to Hawkeye fans, born and raised in Iowa City, she followed a sensational freshman campaign with a sophomore season in which she tied for the team lead at 14.8 points per game, i addition to grabbing 5.9 rebounds and dealing out 2.4 assists per game.

She enjoyed the presence of the seniors taking attention away from her defensively in her first two seasons, but the numbers indicate that she has potential to remain an efficient scoring weapon.

Disterhoft shot 43 percent from the floor as a primary driver, a number with room to improve, but her relentlessness attacking the hoop was often rewarded. She made 137 free throws in the 2014-15 season on 78 percent from the line, good for 12th in the Big Ten. She also finished as a 37 percent 3-point shooter, but she became lethal durng the final stretch of the season, particularly with her feet set.

Disterhoft will be the primary scorer and receive much of the defensive attention, but the thing that Iowa will be most desperate to replace — offensively, that is — is the penetration and ball movement provided by Logic.

Enter: Whitney Jennings. She started 31 of 34 games as a freshman and showed plenty of flashes of the potential head coach Lisa Bluder raved about in the preseason. Jennings has the ball on a string as a ball handler and is similar to Logic in her fearlessness as a penetrator. She was most impressive with her ability to get shots up around taller defenders, and she also has vision to find cutters and shooters.

Her 1.74 assist-to-turnover ratio was second behind Logic, as was her 2.7 assists per game. She was Indiana’s Miss Basketball as a senior in high school, and given that her talent already seems to translate to Bluder’s system, her experience alongside Logic bodes well for her chances of becoming yet another dangerous playmaker at point guard for the Hawkeyes.

So the offense, once again, appears equipped to be potent next season. Of all the uncertainty amid the turnover, however, the biggest question mark remains where it always has: on defense and on the boards.

And in that regard, fans may be surprised to hear they could see their team improve.

Doolittle’s departure takes away the only rim protector from the roster, but 6-3 freshman Chase Coley will have another year of strength training, and she is the all-time leader in blocks in Minnesota high-school history (both boys and girls), so will be relied on heavily down low.

After Coley, seniors-to-be Kali Peschel and Claire Till combined to form a scrappy bench duo of rebounders and length in the post. Christina Buttenham and Alexa Kastanek will also likely see increased minutes and will provide much-needed pressure on the perimeter.

The Iowa faithful would be crazy to not anticipate an adjustment period, but they’d be remiss to not expect to be near the top of the Big Ten once again.


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