Analysis: How will Iowa mesh together this season?

Ryan Murken
Other than senior Kali Peschel (25), sophomore Whitney Jennings (15) and junior Ally Disterhoft (right), there is plenty yet to be determined in the rotation of the Hawkeye roster.

With three multi-year starters gone from last year's team and eight underclassmen dotting its roster, Iowa is going to have a significantly different look this season.

Exactly how different? Longtime coach Lisa Bluder isn't quite sure right now.

That hasn't dampened Bluder's enthusiasm for the upcoming season. In fact, it's only increased the veteran coach's excitement.

"I really like what we see," Bluder said. "The mindset is it's the next one in and we have so many options we can go to."

Junior Ally Disterhoft and sophomore Whitney Jennings return in the backcourt.

Senior forward Kali Peschel has started 22 games in her career and was a key bench player last season.

After that, there is plenty to be determined but Bluder likes the roster she has assembled that features eight underclassmen including four freshman from a top-20 national recruiting class.

How all the pieces fit together has yet to be determined, but Bluder likes the possibilities the versatile roster presents.

"I feel like our system is a system that allows us to put the best players on the floor regardless of position," Bluder said. "I don't think we have to find a two or a three or a four and I like that."

Here is an early look at the 14-player Iowa roster and how they could fit into the Hawkeyes' plan for the 2015-16:


• Kali Peschel, 6-1, Sr.

Position: Versatility helped Peschel average more than 17 minutes per game the last two seasons playing primarily on the perimeter on offense while helping the Hawkeyes defensively in the paint. The senior will likely play one of the forward (3-4) spots this season.

Analysis: Voted a co-captain for her final season, Peschel is a candidate for a breakthrough season. She finished last season playing the best basketball of her career, scoring double figures in three of Iowa's five postseason games. At 6-foot-1, Peschel will be a crucial part of Iowa's ability to play creative lineups this season with her ability to stretch the floor on offense (43 percent 3-point shooter last season) while adding rebounding assistance (six games with five or more rebounds).

• Nicole Smith, 6-4, Sr.

Position: One of only three players on the roster over 6-foot-2, Smith is one of the Hawkeyes three, true centers.

Analysis: Smith has played sparingly in her first three seasons at Iowa appearing in 15 games over those seasons. If the senior can add minutes to the Iowa post rotation, it would be a boost to a young Hawkeye frontcourt.

• Claire Till, 6-0, Sr.

Position: A physical forward, Till has played both the power forward (4) and center (5) spots in her career but is best suited for the power forward role.

Analysis: A rare senior on a young Iowa roster, Till has valuable post experience playing in the rugged Big Ten. Till has played in 65 games over the past two seasons and can give the Hawkeyes a boost under the boards (8 rebounds in Big 10 Tournament win over Nebraska).

• Alexa Kastanek, 5-10, Jr.

Position: Another high school point guard, Kastanek spent the last two seasons as the understudy to All-American Samantha Logic. Kastanek gives the Hawkeyes more flexibility in the backcourt with the ability to play point guard but will also be used at the off-guard (2) spot.

Analysis: With Iowa's two other primary guards (Jennings and Davis) standing 5-foot-5 and 5-foot-4, Kastanek brings much-needed size and physicality to the backcourt. She also provides valuable experience after averaging 10 minutes per game the past two seasons.

• Ally Disterhoft, 6-0, Jr.

Position: The West High graduate is the epitome of the versatile Hawkeye wing player, skilled enough to play the shooting-guard spot (2) and tough enough to play power forward (4).

Analysis: There was no sophomore slump for Disterhoft who tied for the team lead with 14.8 points per game last season despite playing with a thumb injury that required offseason surgery. Now pain free, Disterhoft gives Iowa a legit scoring threat from anywhere on the court and will see an even bigger role in the offense this season.

• Haley Schneden, 6-2, Jr.

Position: The former walk-on is a bit undersized as a post but best suited for the Hawkeyes' power forward (4) spot.

Analysis: Schneden has played in 14 games during her collegiate career, 11 of which came during her freshman season.


• Whitney Jennings, 5-5, Soph.

Position: A high school point guard, Jennings gives the Hawkeyes versatility in the backcourt after starting 31 games last season at the off-guard spot.

Analysis : Teammates call Jennings the fastest player on the team, and with Tania Davis on the roster, that means even more. Jennings had more ups than downs last season as she adjusted to the college game finishing with 308 points (11th-most all time by an Iowa freshman). The addition of Davis should allow Jennings to stay at the off-guard spot where despite her slight build will be among the most explosive scorers in the conference.

• Carly Mohns, 6-1, Soph.

Position: Known as a fierce rebounder, Mohns is more a defensive-minded wing player that can fill either forward spot (3-4).

Analysis: Mohns saw sporadic action as a freshman (4.6 minutes in 14 games) but coaches raved about her offseason improvement. With a year under her belt, Mohns is a player that could grab meaningful minutes at either the small forward spot when the Hawkeyes feature a big lineup or even play at the power forward spot when Iowa goes small.

• Christina Buttenham, 6-0, Soph.

Position: For a lack of a better description, think the Ally Disterhoft position (2 or 3) for Buttenham.

Analysis: A stress fracture suffered in training for the Canadian under-19 team will keep Buttenham from competing in Italy (out 4-6 weeks) but the sophomore should be ready to go for the season opener. Buttenham's strength is her offensive skill (2.4 ppg in 6.0 minutes last season) and will give Iowa another longer perimeter threat on offense with Disterhoft.

• Chase Coley, 6-3, Soph.

Position: The Minneapolis native is a true post but her athletic ability allows her to pull bigger opponents away from the basket.

Analysis: The rookie numbers weren't staggering (2.9 points, 1.6 rebounds in 6.7 minutes per game) but Coley was playing her best at the end of her freshman season. Coley logged double-digit minutes in four of the Hawkeyes' final 10 games and had four points and three rebounds in the Sweet 16 loss to Baylor. Minutes were scarce last season playing behind all-Big Ten center Bethany Doolittle, but her strong finish flashed the possibility of a breakthrough sophomore season.

• Hannah Stewart, 6-2, Fr.

Position: Described herself as a post-up guard and has been working on everything from the three position on the wing to the five spot during summer workouts. Iowa coaches like Stewart's position versatility, and her strength and size make her an interesting prospect.

Analysis: Another top-100 signee in this year's freshman class, the Minot, N.D. native comes to Iowa City with a Big Ten-ready body. Stewart can play on the perimeter if needed but expect her initial minutes to come in the post. If Iowa elects to go with a smaller lineup, the freshman could even see time at center.

• Tagyn Larson, 6-2, Fr.

Position: Said this summer that Bluder views the Sioux Falls native as a three but has the length to help defensively in the paint.

Analysis: A bit of a wildcard in the Hawkeyes' 2015 recruiting class, Larson brings more flexibility to the wing spot for the Hawkeyes. An injury kept Larson from competing in the Game Time League this summer but she said she took part in individual workouts and spent time working on her perimeter offensive skills. The school record-holder for career rebounds, career blocks and single game blocks at Roosevelt High School, the rangy Larson could provide rebounding and defensive assistance in her initial college seasons.

• Megan Gustafson, 6-3, Fr.

Position: A traditional center, Gustafson gives Iowa size in the post that the Hawkeyes have lacked the past few seasons.

Analysis: The all-time leading scorer in Wisconsin prep history, expect Gustafson to see plenty of action in her first season of college basketball. The left-hander brings a physical presence to the post and has offensive game to contribute immediately. Getting up to speed against top-notch competition will be important.

• Tania Davis, 5-4, Fr.

Position: Ranked as the 12th-best senior point guard in the country last season, Davis will be among those used to replace four-year starter Samantha Logic.

Analysis: It won't take long for the lightening-quick Davis to get acclimated to Big Ten basketball or become a fan-favorite at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Rated as the 37th-best prospect in the Class of 2015 by ESPN Hoopgurlz, Davis was named Michigan's PG Miss Basketball following her senior season at Goodrich High School and will be a key contributor immediately. A true point guard, Davis is electric with the ball in her hands, and Lisa Bluder said she is far ahead of most freshman at this point in her career.