Ally Disterhoft sparkles in Game Time League return
Ally Disterhoft couldn't find a uniform that fit on Wednesday.
After discarding a slightly snug jersey top, Disterhoft reappeared in the Roberts Gym at the North Liberty Recreation Center wearing a jersey originally intended for West High sophomore Rachael Saunders and a wide grin.
It had been a while since Disterhoft got to put on a jersey of any kind.
"I was kind of busting out of the first one I found," Disterhoft laughed. "I eventually found one. It felt good to get a jersey on again."
Jersey problems were the only glitches in Disterhoft's long awaited return to the court after offseason surgery on her wrist.
Sporting a large brace, Disterhoft scored a team-high 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds in her Game Time League debut, helping the Comfort Care Medicare/L.L. Pelling team to a 93-67 win over Vinton Merchants/Culvers.
"It felt really good, it's just an awesome feeling to be out there and play without pain," Disterhoft said. "It's been a long time since I've been able to do that."
Disterhoft said Wednesday she'd been playing with pain in her wrist since the beginning of her sophomore season at Iowa.
In February, the tendon in her right wrist and thumb area ruptured and the pain intensified.
Disterhoft finished the season earning second-team all-Big Ten honors and finishing in a tie for the team lead in scoring at 14.8 points per game.
In April, she underwent surgery that relegated her mostly to the sidelines or individual workouts and totally away from contact until Wednesday.
"I was actually cleared by the doctor for contact last Wednesday and I tried to hop in (Game Time League) last week and my mom was like, 'You need to take it easy,' " Disterhoft said with a smile.
Disterhoft said her rehabilitation has gone well and is on schedule.
Doctors, she said, are fully confident in the strength of her repaired tendon.
By the time August rolls around, Disterhoft plans to ditch the bulky brace that protected her wrist on Wednesday.
"I'll be 100 percent back by August so that means no brace no anything," Disterhoft said. "Maybe I'm a little bit ahead of schedule but not too much, it's pretty much on track."
In her first live action since the NCAA Tournament last March, she connected on her first, two shots — 3-point baskets on back-to-back possessions — as her team jumped to a 13-0 lead and never trailed.
"At least it wasn't an airball," Disterhoft laughed when talking about her first shot. "It could have gone one or two ways really. It was a good feeling going out there and hitting that first shot and being confident again."
Disterhoft made all six of her 3-point attempts, was 9-of-13 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line.
She also had two assists to go with her nine rebounds.
"I'm really just trying to improve different elements of my offensive game," Disterhoft said. "Whether it's a pull-up jumper or creating a few of those go-to moves off the dribble and in the post."
A two-time all-Big Ten selection, a healthy Disterhoft is going to be key in Iowa replicating the success of last season.
The West High graduate is Iowa's top returning scorer and rebounder entering next season and is the only returning Hawkeye to average double figures last season.
Now an upperclassmen on a roster that will feature eight freshmen and sophomores, Disterhoft is expected to shoulder the largest leadership role of her career.
"Probably above all else I'm trying to work on being that vocal leader that maybe we graduate in Bethany (Doolittle), Melissa (Dixon), Sam (Logic) and Katherine (Reynolds)," Disterhoft said. "I'm just trying to step into those roles and be a little more vocal out there."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.