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Very good season

Hawk Talk
Junior Melissa Dixon had the hot hand early for the Hawkeyes, averaging over 20 points and five 3-pointers at the Cancun Challenge. (file photo by Don Lund)

When I look back at the Iowa Hawkeye women’s basketball season, it still amazes me that Lisa Bluder’s team won 27 games. That ties for the second most wins in the history of Hawkeye women’s basketball.
They not only won 27 games, they won three in the Big Ten tournament and got beat by Nebraska in the championship game.
Iowa played with only one player (Bethany Doolittle) over 6-1.
The Hawks saw all five starters score in double figures, had three players coming off the bench and some of the best chemistry on and off the court.
I had a chance to talk to the newest Hawkeye coach, Lacey Goldwire, who is in her first year, and ask her if there was any magic she brought to the team?
“I don’t think there was anything specific that I did,” said Lacey. “I do know that when I came in it was kind of a seamless transition. I brought a couple of new ideas but no matter how fast or slow I started to learn things, they had things covered, no matter what.”
Head coach Lisa Bluder has had Jan Jensen and Jenni Fitzgerald on her Hawkeye staff for 14 seasons. They also played under Lisa at Drake and were assistant coaches for the Bulldogs with Lisa as head coach.
“Off the court, I am pretty young and so I think the girls relate a lot to me,” Lacey said. “I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of communicating to the players.”
Five players in double figures is the way Lisa Bluder wants to coach.
It doesn’t hurt to have a point guard like Samantha Logic that can play 40 minutes a game.
“It’s just exciting when you have a team that can score,” Lacey said. “The stressful situations get overlooked because you’re having so much fun.”
Lacey grew up in Del City, Oklahoma, where she was an all-state, all-city basketball player.
She played forward on a successful high school team.
Lacey went to college at East Central, Oklahoma, where she finished fifth in career scoring with 1,340 points.
When Lacey was a senior, she averaged 21.1 points and 5.9 rebounds. That season, she was named Lone Star Conference co-player of the year.
“The reason that I am a coach is because of the college decision that I made,” said Lacey. “I thought that a coach was going to bring a scholarship to my door, have a pen, sign it and I had a scholarship. No one really helped me understand the recruiting process. Looking back on it, I got letters from Baylor, TCU, Tulsa and Arizona State, but I didn’t know what to do with them. It kind of hurt a little because I could have had more choices. Knowing what I know now, I think I can help these kids. That’s the main reason I wanted to do this job.”
Lacey started her coaching career as a student assistant for two years and graduate assistant for two years at Oklahoma State.
Then tragedy struck and Lacey had to grow up in a hurry.
Kurt Budke, head coach for the women’s basketball team, and assistant head coach Miranda Serna were killed when their small plane crashed in Perry County, Arkansas, in November 2011.
Lacey became an interim assistant coach and recruited for the Cowboys.
“It was basically what I was doing with more privileges traveling, setting things up and more involved in it,” said Lacey. “As a GA (graduate assistant) they really did a good job including me with things because they were preparing me to be a coach. I liked it. It helped me grow up really fast.”
Lacey was only 25 when she became an assistant coach.
Why Iowa?
“The funny thing is I didn’t look,” said Lacey. “I met Abby (Emmert, Director of Basketball Operations) at the Final Four on the bus and we talked a little bit. I didn’t even know Iowa had a job coming open. I had no clue that Shannon (Gage) was going to Oklahoma State. So they called me and let me know the situation. I was really excited about this because they found me. I feel like whenever you go searching for things, it might not be the right situation. When things seem to find you and it works out perfectly like the way this did, it turned out to be a good situation.”
Lacey came to Iowa last July, met the coaches, the players and some of the administrators.
Lacey wanted to be a Hawkeye “because of the coaches and how excited they were about me. It feels so nice to be wanted. I also had good chemistry with the girls.”
The chemistry on the team was also good as the Hawkeyes started the season 12-2.
That included wins over USC and Boston College in the Cancun Challenge.
“We started out with the Hawkeye Challenge here and beat Dayton, who was ranked 14th at the time,” said Lacey. “After the Dayton win it really got us going. We were all excited to play games because we had been practicing since June.
“Then we went to Colorado and lost and I really feel like that gave us a spark because before your first loss it’s kind of like you think because you’re Iowa, you are supposed to win. I think that got us going. We knew we had to work everyday on getting better and couldn’t take days off.”
Iowa won 10 of the next 11 games before the Big Ten started and were ranked 22nd in the nation.
“Every time there was a bump in the season and we needed a restart, we looked back to the Cancun trip and remembered how well we were playing as well as having fun,” said the coach. “We wore flip flops in pregame, we painted our nails, we had smoothies and we had chips and salsa to represent Cancun, Mexico.”
The Hawkeyes traveled to Indiana for their opening game in the Big Ten.
The Hoosiers (13-0) were off to their best start in school history and outscored Iowa, 86-84.
The Hawks would lose three of their first five games before winning three straight.
Iowa finished the season 23-7, 11-5 in the Big Ten.
The Hawkeyes tied Purdue for fifth place in the conference but the Boilermakers won the tiebreaker because they beat Iowa, 74-73, at Purdue in the only meeting between the two teams.
This is the first part of a two-part story on the Hawkeye women’s basketball team. Next week I’ll talk to first year assistant coach Lacey Goldwire about the rest of the season, the players coming back and the new recruits.