Work begins to replace Hawkeye women's senior class
Over the past few months, Samantha Logic helped take Lisa Bluder places the longtime Iowa coach had never been.
First, Logic helped lead the Hawkeyes to their first Sweet 16 appearance under Bluder.
Earlier this month, Bluder accompanied Logic to the WNBA Draft in Connecticut, where she was selected 10th overall by Atlanta to become the first Bluder-coached player chosen in the first round.
"It was fun, it exceeded my expectations and I appreciate Sam letting me be at her table with her and letting me experience that," Bluder said of the draft. "To be a part of the drama of waiting for the name to be called and the pageantry of it all out there it was really exciting."
Bluder returned to Iowa City following the draft and began to brace for life after Logic and a departing senior class that accounted for 93 victories in four years in Iowa City.
With 4,379 points between them, Logic and fellow senior starters Melissa Dixon and Bethany Doolittle leave Iowa City as the highest scoring trio from the same class in Big Ten Conference history.
"It begins right away," Bluder said last week of preparing to replace the winningest senior class in 21 years. "They scrimmaged and I'm sure it was different for the players out there, scrimmaging without Sam and Melissa and Bethany and Kathryn (Reynolds)."
The voids left by the seniors are tough to ignore.
Logic departs as one of the best to ever wear an Iowa uniform and the Hawkeyes' highest draft pick since 1997.
Doolittle and Dixon are pursuing their own professional playing careers, while senior Kathryn Reynolds was a highly regarded locker-room presence.
However, the cupboard is far from bare as the Hawkeyes get back to work this month.
Sophomore Ally Disterhoft is recovering from offseason surgery on her shooting thumb but will be ready this fall.
Disterhoft tied for the team lead last season at 14.8 points per game and joins freshman Whitney Jennings as returning starters.
Junior Kali Peschel returns off the bench, along with sophomore Alexa Kastanek and junior Claire Till.
Freshman Christina Buttenham, Carly Mohns and Chase Coley should all be in for expanded roles next season, and Iowa expects an immediate impact from a four-member recruiting class ranked in the top 20 in the nation by ESPN.
The four freshmen will be on campus in June as Iowa prepares for its summer trip to Italy.
"We lost four players, and we have four players coming in," Bluder said. "The good thing is that they are going to be here shortly."
All four could be slated for significant roles.
Tania Davis, a 5-foot-4 point guard from Grand Blanc, Mich., is rated as the No. 37 recruit in the nation and could help immediately in the backcourt.
The trio of Hannah Stewart, Megan Gustafson and Tagyn Larson should provide immediate frontcourt depth for Iowa.
The 6-foot-3 Gustafson is the all-time leading scorer in Wisconsin prep history and will join Coley as the Hawkeyes attempt to replace Doolittle's production.
Stewart, a 6-foot-2 forward from Minot, N.D. and Larson, a 6-foot-2 wing from Sioux Falls, S.D., could be in the mix for key minutes as well.
"It's definitely a change with those seniors gone," Bluder said. "After this many years of coaching, you understand 25 percent out every year, 25 percent in every year."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.