June 2013

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Void of Tricks, NCAA Streak Reaches 6 W By Darren Miller hen the University of Iowa women's basketball team won its first four games in November 2007, few envisioned what was ahead in the next six seasons. "Hawkeye fans came through for us in supporting us, especially in that win over Miami," Bluder said. "That was special to be able to share that with so many people that came out to support us that night." The Hawkeyes finished 21-11 in 2007-08, a season that included an eight-game winning streak and a 13-5 record in the Big Ten Conference. The biggest reward was a trip to the NCAA Tournament in Norfolk, Va., and a matchup against Georgia. Iowa defeated Miami (Fla.), 69-53, on March 24 behind 23 points and 11 rebounds from sophomore guard Samantha Logic. Logic is one of three starters returning next season, along with sophomore Bethany Doolittle and junior Theairra Taylor. They will be charged with passing the torch in light of graduation losses to Morgan Johnson (14.4 points, 7.5 rebounds), Jaime Printy (12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds) and Trisha Nesbitt (1.2 points). It wasn't the first postseason journey for head coach Lisa Bluder, who was in her eighth season with the Hawkeyes. Iowa made NCAA jaunts in 2001, '02, '04, and '06, and went to the WNIT in 2003 and '05. But the berth in 2008 has added significance for the Hawkeyes. It started a string of six consecutive berths to the NCAA Tournament — the longest streak of any Big Ten Conference program. "It tells you where our program is stability-wise," Bluder said. "For us to make six straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and when you consider how hard that is to accomplish, it shows the stability, consistency, and the level of kid we're getting in here year-in and year-out." Bluder has led the Hawkeyes to 251 victories in 13 seasons — an average of more than 19 per — so having success on an annual basis isn't a surprise. But making the NCAA Tournament every year since 2008 is no easy task. Iowa is in rarified air, joining the likes of Connecticut, Tennessee, Baylor, Stanford, and just eight other programs. "It's the satisfaction that we're competing at the highest level every single year," Bluder said. "That brings a lot of satisfaction to me, and when you win consistently, it does bring more fan support to your program." Iowa averaged 4,567 fans for its 18 home contests in 2012-13, a number that increased to 6,836 when Carver-Hawkeye Arena hosted the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Of the 16 NCAA sites, Iowa City was the third-highest attended. "We lose three tremendous players to graduation, but we're bringing in two very good players and I don't think the cupboard is bare by any means with what we have coming back," Bluder said. "Sam Logic — the best in assists in the Big Ten Conference (6.4 per game), Melissa Dixon, 20th-best 3-point shooter in the country (34-of-78, 39.8 percent), Bethany Doolittle, third-best blocked shots in the Big Ten Conference (1.9 in league games), and Theairra Taylor, our only senior, is going to have a great year." Logic was named third-team All-Big Ten by media after averaging 9.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game; Dixon (10.1 points, 2.3 3-pointers per game) was named Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year. Incoming first-year players for the Hawkeyes in 201314 are Ally Disterhoft from Iowa City (Iowa) West High School, the state's Miss Basketball, and Alexa Kastanek from Lincoln (Neb.) Southeast High School. Kastanek scored 16 points with seven rebounds in the Nebraska Class A girls' basketball title game, won by Lincoln Southeast; Iowa City West won state during Disterhoft's junior season. Bluder calls it, "Bringing in that championship attitude." 23

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