Melissa, Bethany and Samantha will lead the way for Bluder’s Hawkeyes
The Hawkeye women’s basketball team has three seniors that will lead the team this season.
Melissa Dixon, Bethany Doolittle and Samantha Logic have helped Iowa win 67 games in the last three years.
All three are playing in the Game Time League this summer and 10 minutes after I talked to Melissa, she scored a Game Time-record 63 points!
She hit 13-24 from 3-point range on the night in her team’s win.
Last year was unbelievable for the Hawks with 27 victories, which ties for the second most in program history.
Melissa has started in 49 games in that three-year period, Bethany 70 and Samantha in all 101 games.
Melissa was a big part of the 27 wins last season, hitting 97 3-pointers, a Hawkeye record for a single season.
Melissa was named MVP of the Cancun Challenge, averaging 22.3 points as Iowa won three straight.
“It was a fun year,” said Melissa. “Everyone really worked hard to make up for what we lacked.”
Melissa said beating Ohio State three times last year was one of the many good moments in the season.
Twice last year, the Hawkeyes put together six-game winning streaks and had all five starters averaging double figures for the season.
Melissa grew up in Johnsburg, Illinois, where she was a three-time MVP and team captain her junior and senior seasons. She finished as the all time leading scorer in McHenry County for boys or girls with 2,146 points.
Melissa was first team all-state as a senior and in the summer played AAU basketball with Samantha Logic.
“We played AAU together in the summer and I don’t really remember losing too much,” said Melissa who helped her high school team to three straight conference championships.
Melissa narrowed her college choices to Iowa, DePaul, Marquette and Vanderbilt.
She visited all of them, but the Hawkeyes won out and are cashing in on her great talent. Melissa said the coaches and girls on the team made her comfortable and she thought she really fit in well.
“It was an added bonus that Samantha was going to Iowa,” said Melissa. “I really wanted to be her teammate.”
When Melissa was a freshman, she played in 24 games with eight starts. She tore her meniscus during the season and missed seven games.
Melissa’s first start was against Ohio State. She scored 19 points and hit 5-10 from 3-point range. Jaime Printy tore her ACL that year and Melissa started in her place.
As a sophomore, Melissa played in 34 games with three starts. She averaged 10.1 points per game and led Iowa with an average of 12.3 points during the Big Ten season.
She also led the Big Ten conference in 3-point percentage (.430) and was named Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year.
“It was fun,” said Melissa. “I was just willing to do whatever, coming off the bench and trying to give the team that extra spark.”
Last year, she set the school single-season record with 97 threes.
Melissa averaged 13.1 points per game, shot 90 percent from the free throw line and 36 percent from 3-point range.
“You try not to think about the ones you miss,” said the former Illinois All-Stater. “You just try to have confidence that the next ones are going in.”
Melissa likes the way Bethany has stepped up her game since she came to Iowa.
“She just keeps getting better and better,” said Melissa. “She has improved so much. She is really great at seeing the floor and when she is double-teamed, will find the open teammate.”
Melissa has been elected captain this year and Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder likes her leadership and talent on the court.
“Melissa is constantly face guarded as much as possible to keep the ball out of her hands,” said coach Bluder. “That opens up the court to the rest of our players to really score.”
That is what made the Hawkeyes so successful last year... balanced scoring. That is what coach Bluder has been striving for since she became the Iowa coach.
“Melissa is one of the best 3-point shooters that I have ever coached,” said Bluder. “Her shot release might be the quickest I have ever coached as well.”
Coach Bluder also likes what Melissa brings off the court.
“Besides being a tremendous shooter, she may be a more quality human being,” said Lisa. “I have never known a person that is so happy and joyful all of the time,” said the head coach. “Even for our 6 a.m. workouts!”
With four starters back, including Melissa, and four very good recruits, the Hawkeyes will be ranked in the top-25 and one of the favorites to win the Big Ten title.
The chemistry will be important but the talent will be there.
I like Iowa’s chances.