Battling For Minutes
Oct. 31, 2013
How many minutes are up for grabs? The graduation losses of leading scorers Morgan Johnson and Jaime Printy, along with Trisha Nesbitt, leaves a void of 2,398 minutes. For three players, that is an average of 23 ½ minutes per game.
"There will be minutes for people to get; people who haven't played that many minutes before," UI junior point guard Samantha Logic said Thursday at Big Ten Basketball Media Day in the Hyatt Regency O'Hare. "That helps intensity in practices, too."
Head coach Lisa Bluder will not use games as an avenue to earn playing time, that will be done daily in practice. For Bluder, entering her 14th season with the Hawkeyes, the mission in games -- as always -- is victory.
The Hawkeyes open the regular season Friday, Nov. 8, against UC Riverside with a 6 p.m. (CT) tipoff inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
A potential starting lineup of Logic, senior Theairra Taylor, junior Bethany Doolittle, and junior Melissa Dixon have a combined 105 starts last season and Dixon was named the Big Ten Conference Sixth Player of the Year. No one else on Iowa's 11-player roster has started a game. But what the 2013-14 Hawkeyes lack in experience, they make up for in chemistry.
The sole for the team bonding is Taylor, who has overcome four knee procedures and is the team's only senior.
"Our chemistry is outstanding. We have always had good chemistry, but this team has taken it to another level," Bluder said. "These players genuinely love each other, they care about each other so much. You have somebody like Theairra -- they love her, they want to win for her. They know what she has been through, they admire her for what she does every day for us. When you have that extra incentive and emotional attachment, you want to come to work, you want to play, you want to get your extra shots in because you want to do it for her. That's been an added bonus for us."
During their six-year stretch, all ending in the NCAA Tournament, the Hawkeyes won 21, 21, 20, 22, 19, and 21 games. Those teams had good chemistry, but the 2013-14 squad has bumped it up a notch. Those teams had intense practices, but the 2013-14 squad has bumped it up a notch.
"This team has incredible focus and intensity," Logic said. "We have had hard, intense practices getting after each other. That will help. We're ready to play against someone other than ourselves. At the same time you have to know how much you still have to work on yourselves."
Taylor says practices are the most competitive since she arrived in Iowa City in 2009, perhaps because so many minutes are at stake. Even with the daily battles in practice, she senses the fellowship.
"To see us interact with one another is completely different and I believe that does show on the court," Taylor said. "It will show in different aspects of our game, sharing the ball, and knowing where players are off the ball, and how to get their shots."
"The two freshmen are doing well, but we expected them to," Bluder said. "Quite honestly, we need them to do well because we don't have a deep team. Both of them are winners and they want to compete. They understand that they need to, and they're not acting like freshmen."
Iowa hits the court Sunday with an exhibition game against Concordia-St. Paul, a nationally ranked Division II opponent. Game time is 1 p.m. (CT).