By John Naughton
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Samantha Logic’s 3-point jumper got an early wake-up call this summer.
The Iowa junior point guard is one of the nation’s best passers — she led the Big Ten Conference in assists with 217 last season — but she wants to be an equally proficient scorer as the Hawkeyes open the basketball season.
Logic and her teammates spent part of the summer participating in early-morning practices. Logic, who averaged 9.4 points last season, stayed afterward most days to polish her skills.
“Any shots you can get up will help,” Logic said. “We need to have five players on the court who can score.”
Iowa hosted its annual media day Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes went 21-13 last season and reached the NCAA tournament for the sixth straight year. Iowa is young and relatively short once you get past the two 6-foot-4 players on the roster; but, like Logic, the team can rely on strong shooting.
Logic has been in the lineup since she was a freshman. The team’s lone senior, guard Theairra Taylor, and post Bethany Doolittle also started last season.
Doolittle, who played power forward last winter, is moving to center. She and Nicole Smith are 6-4. After that pair, the next tallest Hawkeye is 6-2.
“I believe that we can change our style to fit what we have,” coach Lisa Bluder said. “I think we can adjust our offenses and defenses to accommodate for our lack of height when Bethany and Nicole are not in.”
The Hawkeyes were named one of 16 schools to host an NCAA regional. If the team qualifies for the NCAA Tournament, it will receive an automatic chance to play at home. Iowa and Iowa State were named as regional sites; it’s the first time since 1998 that both were named as hosts during the same year.
“Sixteen sites in the whole country, and two of them are here in the state of Iowa,” Bluder said. “It shows you what kind of fan support we have and what kind of administration support that we have, both of us, for our programs. For us to host NCAA Tournaments and have different fan bases that will support both of those at a high level really talks about the interest of women’s basketball in this state.”
Now, can the Hawkeyes get there?
Five letterwinners graduated from last season, two of them starters. Returning starters Taylor (8.7 points) and Doolittle (7.2) will be relied on for scoring and rebounding.
There’s significant talent returning from the Iowa bench. Guard Melissa Dixon was the team’s sixth woman and averaged 10.1 points, which ranked third on the team.
Logic led the team in steals (62) as well as assists. Kali Peschel played in 28 games at guard. Smith and Claire Till played sparingly but are ready to gain more playing time.
Freshmen Ally Disterhoft and Alexa Kastanek can contribute right away, Bluder said.
Disterhoft is 6-1, but can line up at either forward or guard. She scored a state-best 26 points a game at Iowa City West last season. She was named Miss Iowa Basketball and was a two-time Des Moines Sunday Register first-team all-stater.
She went from a seat in the stands to wearing Hawkeye gold.
“It’s definitely a crazy feeling having watched countless games,” Disterhoft said. “Growing up in Iowa City, that’s been your dream to play with that Hawkeye jersey on.”
Kastanek was an all-stater in Nebraska. Fellow freshman Hailey Schneden of Davenport Assumption also hopes to make an impact.
Disterhoft said she’s happy that she will likely see playing time right away.
“It’s a huge confidence booster that your coaches believe in you,” Disterhoft said. “With it comes a lot of responsibility. You’re not a freshman any more.”
Taylor finds herself as the team’s oldest player. The redshirt senior is 22 and spent the summer overseeing the young flock.
“A few players call me ‘Mama Hawk,’” Taylor said. “We had a chance to work with them and the coaches over the summer, and I’ve seen them blossom. They’re ready to play.”
BREAKING DOWN THE HAWKEYES
COACH: Lisa Bluder, 607-299 overall, 251-157 at Iowa
LAST SEASON: 21-13, lost in second round of NCAA tourney
KEY DEPARTURES: Morgan Johnson (14.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Jaime Printy (12.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
KEY NEWCOMERS: Ally Disterhoft, Iowa City West; Alexa Kastanek, Lincoln, Neb.; Hailey Schneden, Dav. Assumption.
November — 3: Concordia-St. Paul (Exh.); Nov. 8-10, Hawkeye Challenge: 8: California-Riverside 6 p.m.; 10: Dayton 1 p.m.; 13: Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 7 p.m.; 17: Stony Brook 1 p.m.; 20: at Colorado 9:30 p.m. 24: at Northern Iowa 2 p.m.; Nov. 28-30 Cancun Challenge: 28: vs. USC 7:30 p.m; 29: Boston College 5 p.m.; 30: UNC-Wilmington 7:30 p.m.
December — 5: Syracuse 6 p.m.; 7: Idaho State 2 p.m.; 12: at Iowa State 7 p.m.; 21: Drake 4 p.m.; 28: North Dakota 2 p.m.
January — 2: at Indiana 6 p.m.; 5: Penn State 2 p.m.; 8: Minnesota 7 p.m.; 12: at Wisconsin noon; 16: Michigan State 7 p.m.; 19: at Ohio State 2 p.m.; 25: Indiana 6 p.m.; 29: at Minnesota 7 p.m.
February — 1: Nebraska 2 p.m.; 6: at Penn State 5 p.m.; 10: Northwestern 6 p.m.; 13: Illinois 8 p.m.; 16: at Purdue TBA; 22: at Michigan 12:30 p.m.; 27: Ohio State 6, 7 or 8 p.m.
March — 2: Illinois 1, 3 or 5 p.m.
JOHN NAUGHTON’S TAKE
Iowa seeks a seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Hawkeyes aren’t the tallest or most experienced squad, but they’re got a lot of talent. Three starters return. Samanatha Logic led the Big Ten in assists with 217 and has improved her shooting skills. Theairra Taylor and Bethany Doolittle started every game and combined to average nearly 16 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Ally Disterhoft will make an immediate impact. She’s 6-foot-1 and can play inside or outside. The team’s improvement and staying healthy could carry the Hawkeyes to yet another NCAA Tournament trip.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball