Lisa Bluder gave a lot of hugs on Sunday.
The long-time Iowa coach received her fair share of congratulatory embraces following Sunday's NCAA second-round win over Miami.
As Iowa players were celebrating the program's first trip to the Sweet 16 in nearly 20 years, Bluder leaned over a row of media and wrapped up former Hawkeye Morgan Johnson in a huge hug.
"You're a big part of this," Bluder told the former Iowa center. "You helped get us here."
Bluder wasn't alone in her praise of former players.
Senior Samantha Logic is one of the biggest reasons Iowa is back in the Sweet 16.
Logic wasted little time on Sunday pointing out the former Hawkeyes that helped Iowa reach the Sweet 16, even if they aren't on the current roster.
"So many people paved the way for us, Theairra (Taylor), Morgan (Johnson) and Jaime (Printy) and Trisha (Nesbitt) and Kamille (Wahlin) and all those players," Logic said. "We've worked our butts off since we got here and that was because of them. They made us do that. It just builds a culture and we are hoping to reciprocate it."
When Iowa (26-7) plays its first Sweet 16 game since 1996 against second-seed Baylor (32-3) on Friday, there will be a lot of former Hawkeyes watching.
Part of what they see will be a credit to what they've done over the past several decades.
"We've gotten better every single year since we have been here and that is in part due to the seniors that have been here all of those years," Iowa senior Bethany Doolittle said. "Sam (Logic) learned a lot from Kamille Wahlin, I learned a lot from Morgan Johnson. We all learned from those players. There have been a lot of players here before us that have paved the way for us to be where we are today."
Like many of her teammates during her career at Iowa, Johnson never advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Johnson was a part of four NCAA Tournament teams but never won back-to-back tournament games. Her career ended with a loss to top-seeded Notre Dame in 2013.
Doolittle backed up Johnson as a young player and played with her later in her career.
After Johnson departed, Doolittle blossomed into an all-Big Ten player.
Doolittle had 22 points and 11 rebounds in Iowa's second-round win over Miami – a performance Johnson watched.
"Morgan Johnson was here on Sunday so she got to share in a little bit of that experience with us but we want to thank everyone that has come before us," Doolittle said. "They are just as much a part of this as we are."
Senior Melissa Dixon waited four years for a trip to the Sweet 16.
Dixon said Friday's Sweet 16 game is as much about the players that didn't make it past the second round as the ones who finally did.
"They are just as much a part of this Sweet 16 as we are," Dixon said. "They are the ones who kind of laid out the road to get there. They showed us the path."
16 of the best Hawkeyes to play under Bluder
Samantha Logic – Versatile point guard is the only player in NCAA history with 1,500 career points, 800 rebounds, 800 assists and 200 steals.
Bethany Doolittle – One of the top shot blockers in program history, Doolittle will also end her career ranked in the top-15 in scoring and rebounding.
Melissa Dixon – The nations' leader in 3-pointers per game this season, Dixon ranks third all-time in Big Ten history in 3-pointers made.
Ally Disterhoft – Just a sophomore, the Iowa City native made an immediate mark scoring the second most points (474) by a freshman in program history, and her 500 points this season are the fourth-most ever for an Iowa sophomore.
Lindsey Meder – Program's second leading all-time scorer averaged 16.9 points per game in two seasons under Bluder earning first-team all-Big Ten honors both years.
Jennie Lillis – Current Drake head coach was one of the most versatile players in Bluder era ranking in the top-15 in Hawkeye history in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks.
Jaime Printy – Linn-Mar graduate and current Lion head coach flourished in Bluder's offensive system scoring 1,841 career points, third-most all-time at Iowa.
Morgan Johnson – Iowa's career leader in blocked shots (293) became an offensive forced under Bluder averaging a team-high 14.4 points per game as a senior.
Kamille Wahlin – Another in a long line of play making lead guards in the Bluder era, Wahlin scored more than 1,400 career points and ranks fourth all-time at Iowa in assists.
Kristi Smith – One of four players to earn first-team all-Big Ten honors in back-to-back years under Bluder, received the honor in 2008 and again in 2009.
Megan Skouby – Was one of two players to be named Big Ten freshman of the year under Bluder in 2006 and was also the conference sixth player of the year in 2008.
Wendy Ausdemore – Part of a senior trio that became the first group of the same class to eclipse 1,300 points in a season in Big Ten history, Ausdemore made 61 3-pointers in 2009 and is fifth all-time with 221 treys.
Jamie Cavey – Had the fifth-best scoring season in program history with 543 points in 2005 and ranks in the top-10 all-time in blocks.
Cara Consuegra – Led Bluder's first Iowa team in assists and steals while helping the Hawkeyes to a Big Ten Tournament title.
Kachine Alexander – One of the best defenders to play under Bluder at Iowa, Alexander is the only Iowa player to be named to the Big Ten's all-defensive team twice and was a two-time all-Big Ten first-team pick.
Crystal Smith – The 17.2 points that Smith averaged during her first-team all-Big Ten season in 2006 is the highest average for an Iowa player under Bluder.