SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

Iowa women plan to play even faster this season

Ryan Murken
rmurken@press-citizen.com
Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder takes a rest from interviews during Iowa women's basketball media day on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

One of the biggest questions for the Iowa women’s basketball team this season is who will replace the scoring punch provided by the Hawkeyes' three departed seniors.

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder didn’t answer the who part of that lingering question at Iowa’s media day on Thursday.

However, the veteran coach did give her description of how the Hawkeyes would replace the lost offensive production of Melissa Dixon, Bethany Doolittle and Samantha Logic, and the answer was a bit of a surprise.

“I think that we can be a little more up-tempo than we were last year, even though we were the sixth-best scoring team in the United States last year,” Bluder said. “I think that we can continue that maybe in a different fashion.”

A more up-tempo offense?

Anyone that has followed Iowa the past few seasons would have a hard time imagining the Hawkeyes playing at an even faster pace.

Iowa ranked sixth in the nation in scoring last season, averaging 79.5 points per game.

The Hawkeyes averaged 63.4 field-goal attempts per game last season. Ohio State was the only Big Ten school to attempt more field goals per game than the Hawkeyes.

Yet Iowa thinks it can still go faster.

“You wouldn’t think it would be possible, but let me tell you we are in pretty good shape,” senior Kali Peschel said. “We have been really working on pushing the ball and having a couple of wings leak out and really run the lanes and I think it looks great and it's going to be a really new look for this team.”

Hawkeye women focused on who remains

So how exactly does Iowa go faster this season?

It starts with a pair of point guards that rank among the fastest backcourt duos in the country.

Bluder said Thursday that sophomore Whitney Jennings and freshman Tania Davis would indeed be on the court together at times this season.

With Jennings, whom Bluder called one of the fastest ball-handlers she has ever coached, and the dynamic Davis on the floor the Hawkeyes will be as physically fast in the backcourt as they’ve been under Bluder.

“We are definitely going to push the ball,” Bluder said. “I’m telling you when Whitney and Tania are on the floor together we are fast.”

With the 5-foot-5 Jennings and the 5-foot-4 Davis controlling the ball, and with Iowa’s all-time 3-point leader Dixon gone, the Hawkeyes could shoot less 3-pointers this season.

A year ago Iowa averaged 8.1 3-pointers per game, ranking 17th nationally.

This year the emphasis will be on getting to the rim in transition, and doing it quickly.

“During practice I don’t think we ever have a shot clock violation,” Jennings said. “Not too often.”

Transition is where Jennings and Davis excel, along with athletic wings like junior Ally Disterhoft, Peschel and sophomores Christina Buttenham and Carly Mohns.

Disterhoft said the pace in practice has been an emphasis.

“When we get out in transition that usually leads to easy layups, so I like playing like that and I also think the fans like watching that,” Disterhoft said. “That’s an exciting form of basketball to watch, so if that’s what coach wants I’m looking forward to it.”

Another piece to the Hawkeyes' added tempo will be their depth.

Last season only six Hawkeyes averaged double-digit minutes, with five playing more than 28 minutes per game.

A beefed-up bench gives Bluder the ability to shuffle players in while continuing to push the pace.

“I think sometimes those guys that were playing significant minutes would kind of get tired and it’s hard to maintain that up-tempo style when you are trying to pace yourself a little bit,” Bluder said. “I do feel like we have more depth this year and we definitely want to use that.”

Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or rmurken@press-citizen.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.