Sophomore Nicole Smith is going to be sidelined after tearing her meniscus during the Hawkeyes exhibition win over Concordia. Smith didn’t seem to visibly injure it on the court, but according to Lisa Bluder the injury is in the “five percent that has to be sutured and that means the recovery process is longer.”
Smith was the backup center, and the only depth with serious height besides Bethany Doolittle. Now Bluder is going to try and have one of her power forwards take over the backup center duties in her absence.
“We are having Claire Till learn a lot of the five position for us, “ Bluder said, “obviously not the big bulky body you like to see at the five, but at the same time she’s tough.”
Till led the team in rebounding with nine in their exhibition, and played very well in the zone scheme at the five with her ability to get around the court.
The injury really does hurt Iowa’s ability to play against teams with any height, but in other aspects of the game it gives them an ability to open up some other parts of their game.
Bluder said that Iowa is now with Till running the five going to go even more up-tempo and really try and use their mobility to their advantage. Samantha Logic is a great fit for running up and down in an offense with her ability to find assists off of the transition.
Iowa as a team assisted on 26 of 36 field goals in the exhibition and Bluder said this is the type of team that is going to have a higher field goal percentage.
“Our players know. They are going to pass up an average shot to bet a better shot by making one more pass.” Bluder said.
Ally Disterhoft is adapting to the one more pass mentality very well. Multiple times she passed up a shot that would have been a guaranteed take her senior year and Iowa City West, but now embracing the one more has led to more opportunity for the freshman.
With Till moving to the five, now only Disterhoft and Kali Peschel will be available to play the four, perhaps allowing her to feel more comfortable in the position. Bluder said that Disterhoft would definitely see more minutes this weekend during the two home games for the Hawkeye challenge.
Another downside to the Smith injury is the fact that with the rule changes occurring and as teams commit more fouls as they get used to how the official’s call the game, Iowa may be forced to get Kathryn Reynolds back into the lineup sooner than they believed.
The other bright side of the injury, if there is another one is that it happened very early in the season. This allows Smith to potentially get back on the court in late January to gear up for a month of conference play and potentially Iowa’s sixth straight try at the NCAA tournament.