Lisa Bluder expects there to be some tangible benefits to the deep run the Iowa women’s basketball team made in the NCAA tournament last season.
Prior to an appearance Wednesday night at the Hawkeye Fan Event held at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf, the Iowa women’s basketball coach said the exposure created by winning the Big Ten tourney and reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA tourney for the first time since 1993 can only help the Hawkeyes.
“A lot of people had an opportunity to see us play and see the joy that our team played with as they competed,’’ Bluder said. “Those images, the chemistry that was so evident, those are things recruits notice.’’
Following a 29-win season that saw Bluder earn National Coach of the Year honors, Bluder said the decision to retire the jersey No. 10 worn by the Big Ten’s first consensus national player of the year Megan Gustafson “sooner rather than later’’ was the right thing to do.
“In the history of our program, with all of the great players we have, Megan is only the second one to have her jersey retired and with the contributions she made to our program throughout her career, it was so truly deserved,’’ Bluder said. “We’re so proud of everything Megan accomplished.’’
Bluder said coaches have already turned the page to the 2019-20 season and the work that goes into replacing three senior starters in Gustafson, Tania Davis and Hannah Stewart.
“Coming to these events, it usually marks the end of one year and the start of another, but in all honestly, the coaches are already thinking about what comes next,’’ Bluder said.
A different look: Iowa’s wrestling schedule for the 2019-20 season won’t be unveiled until later this summer, but the Hawkeyes provided a few hints of things to come Wednesday.
On social media, Iowa announced that its home schedule next season will include Big Ten duals against Penn State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Oklahoma State will also visit Carver-Hawkeye Arena, a vastly different-looking lineup of home opponents than the Hawkeyes faced last season.
“So much of that any more is out of our control,’’ coach Tom Brands said. “Oklahoma State, we have them coming into our place every other year and the Big Ten schedule, we don’t have any say in that. It gets handed to us and we get ready to wrestle.’’
Future plans: Nicholas Baer continues to work toward finalizing basketball opportunities overseas.
“I’m feeling good about the possibilities and it’s something I want to do,’’ Baer said. “Right now, everything is a work in progress.’’
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Baer continues to train, splitting time between Iowa City and his family’s home in Bettendorf.
A starting point: Football coach Kirk Ferentz will welcome the majority of Iowa’s 2019 recruiting class to campus next month.
That group includes Orion’s Logan Lee, who will begin his collegiate career lining up at defensive end.
“First and foremost, we’re impressed with Logan as a young man and what he can bring to our program as a person,’’ Ferentz said.
Initially recruited as a tight end, coaches discussed the switch to defense with Lee and his family earlier this spring.
“We have needs on both sides of the ball, but we felt we had a few more needs on the defensive line and he’s receptive to starting off there,’’ Ferentz said.
Cap and gown: In addition to spending the season rehabbing a knee injury, wrestler Michael Kemerer was among Hawkeye student-athletes who earned undergraduate degrees last weekend.
“His rehab is going well, too,’’ Brands said. “We’re looking forward to having him healthy hopefully with a hardship deal, we’re looking forward to having him with us for two more years.’’
Summer plans: With three new starters and a four-player freshman class, Bluder said this is the perfect time for the Hawkeye women’s basketball team to take its foreign trip.
Iowa will take a 12-day trip to Spain in early August, an excursion that will be preceded by 10 days of practices beyond the eight hours players can spend each week on the sport in the summer.
“It couldn’t come at a better time for us,’’ Bluder said. “It was the same situation four years ago with a pretty good group of newcomers. It will give us the opportunity to work on some things for next season.’’
Kate Martin, who redshirted as a freshman last season after tearing an ACL last summer, is expected back on the court when the Hawkeyes begin summer work in June.
“We’re looking forward to that,’’ Bluder said.