WBB: A returning core of four, and question marks

Second-round NCAA loss spells the end for top-10 scorers Printy, Johnson

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IOWA CITY - A little more than a minute remained when Jaime Printy, Morgan Johnson and Trisha Nesbitt walked off the Carver-Hawkeye Arena court to a standing ovation.

Printy stopped and shared an embrace with Iowa coach Lisa Bluder before taking a seat on the bench.

"I just told Jaime not to cry," Bluder said. "I just feel so appreciative of everything those seniors have done for us."

Printy didn't cry ... not much, at least. The Hawkeyes' season ended Tuesday night with a 74-57 defeat at the hands of No. 2-ranked Notre Dame in an NCAA second-round tournament game.

"They're obviously a great team," Printy said. "They might win the national championship. I'm proud of the way this team came out and battled."

Iowa finished 21-13, a similar record to this team's five most recent predecessors.

A late five-game losing streak sent the Hawkeyes to their worst Big Ten finish (8-8, seventh place) since 2006-07.

On the other hand, they reached the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year and advanced to the second round for the first time since 2010.

In the four years Printy, Johnson and Nesbitt were in the program, Iowa posted a 82-48 mark.

"I'll remember my teammates, not the wins and losses," Johnson said.

Printy and Johnson etched their names among the list of all-time Hawkeye greats.

A native of Marion, Printy finished her career ranked second in career 3-pointers (252), third in scoring (1,841 points) and tied for fifth in assists (412).

Johnson is Iowa's all-time leading shot-blocker (293), ranking fourth in rebounds (886) and ninth in scoring (1,582 points).

Nesbitt was a back-up point guard.

"That's probably the hardest thing about tonight," Bluder said in the postgame press conference. "It's not really the losing it's just that the season is over, and you don't ever get to coach them again, so that's kind of tough."

In their absence, this becomes Samantha Logic's team the next two seasons. A sophomore point guard, Logic had 23 points and 11 rebounds in the Hawkeyes' first-round win over Miami (Fla.), then committed 11 turnovers against Notre Dame.

"Her leadership, she deferred a little bit off the floor -- and rightfully so -- to out seniors," Bluder said. "Next year, she's going to have to pick up some of the slack there, become more of an off-court leader, a vocal leader, as well as an on-floor leader."

Logic is one of four key returners for 2013-14.

Junior wing Theairra Taylor had her best season, averaging 8.6 points per game. Sophomore Melissa Dixon (10.3 ppg) will inherit Printy's role as the prime long-distance threat. And sophomore Bethany Doolittle (7.0 ppg) will be the primary post.

Doolittle scored 16 points against Notre Dame.

"I think she showed signs of what she can do on a consistent basis," Bluder said. "She's had these sporadic performances, but we need consistent play out of her."

So that's the core four. After that, it's a maze of question marks.

This year's newcomers, frankly, contributed very little. Late in the season, Bluder went primarily with a six-player rotation.

If Bluder elects to stick with the two-post concept she employed this year, the development of freshman Kayla Timmerman is key. In the preseason, Kali Peschel was projected as a major contributor, but she played only 7 minutes per game and scored just 16 points all season.

Next year's rookie class consists of Alexa Kastanek of Lincoln (Neb.) Southeast -- the nation's No. 100 prospect by ESPN's hoopgurlz.com, and Miss Iowa Basketball Ally Disterhoft of Iowa City West.

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