1st team practice signals the start of Iowa women’s basketball season
By JIL PRICE
IOWA CITY – The 2015-16 regular season is officially underway for the University of Iowa women’s basketball team, who gathered for its first practice Monday morning in the practice gym at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes were comfortable right off the bat, thanks to 10 practice days and the Italian Tour in the month of August. Sixteenth-year UI head coach Lisa Bluder was happy to see the chemistry clicking for her squad already.
“It’s amazing,” Bluder said. “We had 10 practice days this summer and that put us ahead of the curve. Even though it was our first practice, it really didn’t feel like it because our players are so far ahead in a number of areas from terminology to knowing what we want to accomplish on the practice court.”
All 14 Hawkeye student-athletes on the roster, comprised of four freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors, and three seniors, are healthy and ready to compete, including sophomore forward Christina Buttenham and freshman point guard Tania Davis who missed the Italian Tour with injuries.
“It’s nice to have everyone back, especially Tania,” Bluder said. “When we lost her, we lost depth at that position and it was hard to run our offense against each other without two quality point guards. We have two very good point guards on this team.”
Sophomore Whitney Jennings is the other point guard on the roster and one of the top returners for the Hawkeyes. She started 31 of 34 games as a freshman, helping the team to its first Sweet Sixteen since 1996. Junior Ally Disterhoft, a two-year starter, an All-Big Ten selection, and team elected co-captain, will also be a regular in the starting line-up this season, but three slots remain open.
With three starting positions up for grabs and each player working hard to fill them, the competition level has been on the rise. The Hawkeyes’ have been highly motivated throughout preseason workouts and that only continued in Iowa’s first team practice.
Bluder loves what that fire has been doing for her group.
“I love the competiveness and its fun for our players,” Bluder said. “We don’t know who are starters are going to be right now, and they all know that. We have a lot of people who have elevated their game because they want those minutes.
“I want that competitiveness, so it feels good.”
Iowa kicks off the regular season with the Hawkeye Challenge, Nov. 13-15. The Hawkeyes face North Dakota at 6 p.m. (CT) in season-opening action, before wrapping up tournament play at 1 p.m. on Nov. 15 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.