Iowa women's basketball head coach Lisa Bluder talks about the significance of the in-state rivalry to the program. Matt Bain / The Iowa City Press-Citizen
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa’s coaching staff wants its players to make 20,000 shots every offseason. The idea is that by asking players for 20,000 baskets, they’ll wind up taking around 40,000 shots.
Divide those 40,000 over the four months of the offseason, and it’s about 10,000 shots per month. Or 2,500 per week. Or 360 per day.
“If you’re shooting that many shots, you’ve got to rely on the confidence that you know what you’re doing,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said during media availability Monday.
That confidence hadn’t translated to the 3-point line much before Iowa’s 88-39, WWE-style beatdown of Northern Iowa on Sunday. It boasted a meager 30 percent mark (38-for-125) on 3-pointers. Bluder called her team out on its 3-point woes after an especially lackluster 4-for-19 night against No. 1 Notre Dame.
“We have to start putting the ball in the hole better from 3-point range, because otherwise it clogs up everything in the middle,” Bluder said after the game. “So we have to start doing it. We’ve got to find people that are going to do the job for us.”
Her players responded — immediately and emphatically.
They drained 11 of 16 3-pointers Sunday against the Panthers, who’d allowed opponents to shoot 35 percent from long range.
Kathleen Doyle drained a 3 on Iowa’s opening possession. Ally Disterhoft got one from straightaway a couple minutes later. And on the next possession, Bre Cera swished one from the corner for her first 3 of the season. By the end of the first quarter, the Hawkeyes were already 5-for-6 from beyond the arc.
“You just have to have a shooter’s mentality, no matter what your history’s been,” Disterhoft said Monday. “Whether you’ve made 10 or you’ve missed 10, you have to believe that the next one’s going in. And I think we had conversations before the game, ‘Hey, they’re going to go down. Keep shooting them, they’re great shots.’ And I think we just collectively stepped up and did that against UNI.”
Disterhoft knocked down three more after her straightaway bomb in the first for a perfect 4-for-4 night from the 3-point land. She bumped her season percentage up to 50 (12-for-24) and passed Johanna Solverson (125 3-pointers) for 10th on Iowa’s all-time 3-pointers made list, with 128. She's 7-for-9 on 3s in her last two games, having made three of Iowa's four long balls against Notre Dame.
“First of all, we knew that she was capable of doing that,” Bluder said of Disterhoft picking up her long-range shooting. “And I’m glad she’s doing it with a lot of confidence right now. Certainly, having her be a multidimensional weapon is very important to our program.”
Iowa is now shooting 32.5 percent from beyond the arc (49-for-141) — good for 139th in the country. They're also shooting just 5.4 long balls per game, and that’s the 199th-most in the country.
Mohns cleared, medically; no timetable for return
Bluder said redshirt-sophomore forward Carly Mohns is medically cleared to play and has been practicing with the team. She’ll dress for the first time this season against Iowa State on Wednesday, but she won’t play, Bluder said.
Mohns has been out for almost a year after tearing the meniscus in her left knee during practice last December. A true sophomore at the time, Mohns got surgery, missed the entire season and was granted a medical hardship waiver to redshirt her sophomore year.
“She’s not to that (game-ready) level,” Bluder said. “When you’ve been out for a year, it takes a while to get back — your legs, your stamina, your timing, your shot. So she’s healthy now and she’s cleared to go. But is she game-ready? No.”
Mohns, a 6-foot-1 bruiser, played in nine games before her injury, averaging 3.3 points and 3.2 boards in nearly 14 minutes per game. Bluder said she was “on the verge” of cracking the starting lineup when she got hurt.
Bluder said there’s no timetable for Mohns' return to game action.
“She’s working as hard as she can, but every kid’s a little different,” Bluder said. “Part of it is mental, too — as well as physical — on coming back from something like that. There’s certainly no pressure on her — that we have to have her back by this date. But she would add another dimension to our team, so we hope it’s sooner rather than later.”
All in the family
Disterhoft played against an old teammate Sunday in UNI sophomore Mikaela Morgan. Those two played together for Iowa City West during Disterhoft’s junior and senior seasons. Their families are also close, and both have younger siblings currently playing basketball at West.
“It’s an interesting dynamic. It’s like my little sis out there,” Disterhoft said of playing Morgan. “She’s like family to me. I’m glad I didn’t have to guard her as much, and when she was guarding me, I just really tried to put that out of my mind and treat it as another defender. But definitely interesting.”
Disterhoft got the better of Morgan on Sunday. She led Iowa with 17 points, while Morgan finished with seven points and a pair of assists.
Both started on West’s 2013 state quarterfinal team. Disterhoft scored 26.3 points per game — the best average in Iowa. Morgan was third on the team, scoring 6.6 points per game.
Bain covers Hawkeyes basketball for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.