Hawkeyes to stress defense

Hawkeyes+to+stress+defense

Rod Engblom, [email protected]

With the departure of the offensive last year’s seniors and offensive juggernauts Samantha Logic, Bethany Doolittle, and Melissa Dixon, the team has to decide whether or not to continue to be an offense-first team or to improve on defense to make up for the lack of scoring from the graduated seniors.

Head coach Lisa Bluder’s squad is still an offense-first team, but the Hawks have made some improvements on defense, notably in rebounds.

“I think we’ve improved as a team defensively,” senior Kali Peschel said. “We were told so much last year about how our rebounding was an issue defensively. I think we are a completely different team this year with rebounding and I hope it can really show this season.”

Rebounding was a big issue last season for the Hawkeyes — they averaged 36.4 rebounds per game, and their opponents averaged 41.

Although the team’s defensive game plan changes from opponent to opponent, the Hawkeyes want to keep something consistent — being physical on defense, especially against Big Ten teams.

“When we’re on defense we want to be as physical as we can within the realms of not getting a foul,” junior Ally Disterhoft said. “When Big Tens start, that’s that physical ball, so you have to be prepared to give that back.”

Even though the Hawkeyes aren’t the biggest team out there — three players are 6-3 or taller — they still are focusing on keeping it physical.

While offense comes naturally to the team, defense doesn’t. So this season, the team is putting an emphasis on defense in practice and during games.

“Coach always says your offense is going to come, and we’re all great shooters, and she tells us that every day,” senior Claire Till said. “She goes, ‘I have full faith in you that you can shoot the ball and put it in the hole.’ So we just really hone in on being aggressive and being intense on defense.”

But don’t take this as a change in Iowa’s identity — the Hawkeyes will remain a very offense-oriented team.

The freshman class coming in is centered on scoring points and will help generate the offense that the team lost with the graduation of last year’s seniors.

“The luxury of being a college coach is that you recruit players that fit your style,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We recruit players to our style of play, so we tend to play very similarly to what we did last year.”

 

Although there may be some improvements on defense that the team has worked on over the off-season, the Hawks will continue the same high-scoring style of play that they had last year.

“You have to use the strengths of people around you,” Bluder said. “We love to score, and I love to coach scoring. I love to coach offense and up-tempo, so that’s not going to change. I think it’s an exciting style, and I think people like to watch it too. “

 

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