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Iowa's head coach discusses her team's season so far.

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IOWA CITY, Ia. — For the first time in her 17 years at Iowa, Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder is implementing a redshirt on a freshmen. First-year Iowa guard Alexis Sevillian will redshirt this year, Bluder said Friday, and start playing next year as a redshirt freshman.

“It’s such a big (freshman) class. I felt like I’d be wasting her freshman year if I didn’t redshirt her,” Bluder said. “Because she is a talent, and it was going to be hard to get her into the rotation. Right now we’re playing 11. To play 12 would be a really hard thing to do, so we felt like it would be best for her development.”

Minutes would’ve been difficult to come by for Sevillian. Iowa runs 11-deep with six guards: Tania Davis, Makenzie Meyer, Kathleen Doyle, Ally Disterhoft, Alexa Kastanek and Bre Cera. You could even throw Christina Buttenham in the perimeter mix.

Sevillian missed time with a broken nose this offseason, too, so Bluder thought it’d be best for her to spend this year learning the system.

“We asked her. It was really 100 percent her decision,” Bluder said. “We offered her the option to do it. Talked with her parents about it, talked with (Sevillian) about it, and they came to the conclusion that they thought it would be better for her career to do it, as well.”

Sevillian was a three-star recruit out of Goodrich High in Goodrich, Mich. Blue Star, which ranked Iowa’s 2016 class as the country’s seventh-best, pegged her as the No. 91 2016 prospect.

She recorded an assist and a turnover in seven minutes of playing time in Iowa’s exhibition against Lewis.

So, with Sevillian not playing until next season, Iowa’s 2017 freshmen will be Sevillian and Davenport North’s Jinaya Houston, who’s drawn comparisons to Disterhoft.

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Defense? Check. Offense?

Cera was a surprise starter for Iowa. But any shock factor vanished abruptly as soon as people saw the 5-foot-10 freshman from Mukwonago, Wis., defend.

Rapid feet. Active hands. A guard's speed and a forward's length. A matchup nightmare.

“She sets the bar, in my opinion, for energy for our basketball team,” Bluder said. “And she rebounds, she crashes, she’s willing to do the dirty work, and I like having someone like that in our lineup.”

“Bre is 100 percent going all of the time,” added Megan Gustafson, who said she sees a lot of herself in Cera and Amanda Ollinger. “She is (nasty).”

She can shoot, too — apparently. We haven’t seen her take many tries as a Hawkeye; she has nine shots through three games and 72 minutes. But this is a girl who became her high school program’s leading scorer as a junior.

Bluder said to expect more of an offensive impact from Cera soon.

“She just really didn't look for her shot the first couple games,” Bluder said. “Part of that was my fault, I guess, conveying to her that I did want her to shoot the ball and not just play defense and rebound.

“She can shoot the ball. I’m confident in that. She just maybe didn't realize we wanted her to do that, and now we’ve kind of gotten that straightened out.”

Tip-off time changed

Iowa's game against Massachusetts in the first round of the Hawkeye Challenge will tip Saturday at 10:30 a.m. It was originally slated to start at 12:30 p.m. South Dakota State and Montana will start their game 25 minutes after Iowa's ends. Opposing team travel delays caused the change.

The Hawkeyes didn't have enough quality "resume wins" last year to make the NCAA Tournament. If it gets past Massachusetts Saturday, it could play South Dakota State Sunday afternoon. The Jackrabbits consistently make the Big Dance and they received the 28th-most votes in the most recent USA TODAY Coaches Poll.

"We need to take care of business (Saturday) first, but we do have some big opportunities coming up within this next week even to get some big wins," Disterhoft said.

Bain covers Hawkeyes basketball for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at mbain@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

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