IOWA CITY — You’ve probably heard of online dating.
Lisa Bluder first saw Paul Valino Ramos through online recruiting.
“We felt this summer we needed some additional depth in the inside position,” Bluder said. “There was a Spanish national tournament going on when I first noticed her online,” Bluder said.
After a few conversations, mostly on Skype, Valino Ramos signed with the Hawkeyes. A native of Ourense, Spain, she is the third non-American in the program’s 44-year history, following Simone Edwards (Jamaica) and Christina Buttenham (Canada).
“I was looking for a place that I could play basketball and get a strong education,” Valino Ramos said in fluent English at the Hawkeyes’ media day Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “Iowa’s biochemistry department is very good, so this was my choice.”
Valino Ramos wants to get involved in medical research. She’s a 6-foot-3 freshman post that averaged 19.7 points and 13.3 rebounds to guide her club team to a sixth-place finish at the Spanish 18-and-under national championships.
Bluder acknowledged that Valino Ramos’ role will “not be significant” this year.
“Coming in, she knows that. For her, really helping our team happens in practice every single day.”
And that means going head to head with junior Megan Gustafson, who was named Monday to the preseason all-Big Ten team.
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“Believe me, she earns her scholarship every day because she’s got to go battle against Megan, and nobody wants to do that,” Bluder said. “She probably never realized she was going to be coming to America and playing against one of the best centers in America, but that’s what she’s challenged herself to.”
Valino Ramos said, “It’s tough going up against Megan. She’s a very good post, a very good person.”
AYE, AYE, CAPTAINS
Junior Hannah Stewart and sophomore Kathleen Doyle were elected as co-captains by the team.
“Kathleen’s a natural leader, and when you have a sophomore selected captain by their peers, that speaks volumes as to what her leadership potential is for this team,” Bluder said.
Doyle started 29 games last year, averaging 9.2 points per game.
“It’s an honor that my teammates see me in that light,” she said. “I’m excited for that role. I bring energy every day.”
Stewart posted 4.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game as a backup post to Gustafson last season.
BYE, BYE, LINE CHANGES
Bluder spent the first half of last season employing a hockey-like five-in, five-out approach.
That won’t happen again.
“We will not be doing that this year,” she said. “Last year we really did that based on the depth that we had, that we wanted to keep more people engaged early in the season, save their legs, that sort of thing.
“This year those aren’t the things that we’re worried about right now. With 11 (on the roster), they know they’re all going to be able to compete, be a part of the team, be a part of the action. So I think that solves that problem.”
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