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Lisa Bluder: 'I really believe that they think the sky’s the limit for them.' Dargan Southard, msouthard@gannett.com

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Wednesday's release of the Associated Press' preseason women's basketball poll only intensified the Iowa buzz.

The Hawkeyes checked in at No. 13, their first appearance in the preseason rankings since 2014. That position is the team’s best since Feb. 16, 2015, when Iowa was also 13th. Iowa hasn’t been higher than that since it got up to No. 11 in the 1997 season.

Wednesday's reveal comes after Iowa was picked second in the Big Ten preseason poll, with veteran pieces Megan Gustafson and Kathleen Doyle named to the all-conference team. Gustafson was also tabbed as the Big Ten preseason player of the year. 

Iowa returns all but one key piece on a team that won 24 games and reached the NCAA Tournament a season ago. The Hawkeyes are first in action Tuesday with an exhibition game against Dakota Wesleyan. Iowa opens the regular season Nov. 9 versus Oral Roberts. 

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Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.