The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa women host St. Ambrose in season opener

The No. 19 Hawkeye women’s basketball team will open the 2014 season this weekend, as it hosts St. Ambrose Nov. 9 at 3 p.m.

St. Ambrose was 26-6 last season and qualified for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Tournament. It enters the weekend ranked No. 20 and is 1-0 on the season.

On top of that, the Bees have several connections to the Hawkeyes. Head coach Lisa Bluder’s first coaching job was at the Davenport school, and senior All-American Sam Logic has a sister on the team, sophomore guard Brette Logic.

“We typically don’t play an [such a] school, but this year we felt special because of a couple of reasons,” Bluder said. “This is an opportunity for the Logic sisters to go head-to-head in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That will be worth the price of a ticket alone.

“And obviously, I started there in 1984. It’s an opportunity for me to bring St. Ambrose back in here, and a lot of great memories.”

It will make for an interesting narrative, but if all goes well for the Hawkeyes, they will look the part of a Division-I Sweet 16 down the road and, frankly, trounce their visitors.

There are high expectations for this year’s squad, returning four starters from a team that made the Big Ten title game last season. If they want to be able to live up to the hype, however, the team is better off not paying it any attention.

“You kind of have to ignore the hype, because it can be dangerous for a lot of teams when they read too much into that,” sophomore Ally Disterhoft said.

In that respect, the team’s mentality is exactly where it needs to be.

“We’re lucky, because we have a group of girls that are so level-headed that it’s really not going to affect us,” Disterhoft said. “Yeah, it’s awesome that we have that recognition, and we feel honored that people have that respect for us, but we still have to go out there and prove it.”

Disterhoft and the other returning starters, seniors Sam Logic, Bethany Doolittle, and Melissa Dixon, give Bluder a strong lineup, but the first question of the season will be answered when Iowa takes the court Nov. 9: Who will be the fifth starter?

Freshman Whitney Jennings has received praise from Bluder in the preseason, and she likely will see significant playing time. Sophomore Alexa Kastanek has also had an encouraging preseason and will factor into the rotation.

If things fall into place predictably, however, the player with the first crack at it will be junior Kali Peschel, who started for the first half of 2013. The Hawkeyes could use a boost in the boards, and Peschel led the team in rebounds on several occasions last season.

“Kali Peschel has always been a consistent contributor for us,” Doolittle said. “She’s very competitive on the boards. She’ll go in after every ball with tenacity and she adds a bit of aggression to our team.”

Follow @KyleFMann on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s basketball team.

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