Lisa Bluder Leaves Behind A Powerful Legacy In Iowa

WHN | May 13, 2024

IOWA CITY — Basketball Icon. Legendary Leader. All-Time Great. That’s the caption headlined by Iowa Women’s Basketball’s Twitter account. Lisa…

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IOWA CITY — Basketball Icon. Legendary Leader. All-Time Great. That’s the caption headlined by Iowa Women’s Basketball’s Twitter account. Lisa Bluder is officially retiring after 24 years as Iowa women’s basketball head coach. We could certainly say it’s the end of an era, but not technically, since the university announced that Jan Jensen, who has served the last 20 years as the associate head coach under Bluder, has been named the program’s sixth head coach.

Bluder was named head coach at the University of Iowa in 2000 and retires as the all-time winningest coach in Big Ten history. Under her leadership, the Hawkeyes advanced to the last two National Championship Games and made 22 postseason appearances overall, including 14 of the last 16 NCAA Tournaments. Bluder led the Hawkeyes to five Big Ten Tournament titles and two shared Big Ten regular-season championships.

Bluder left a message to fans and said in part; “It has been the honor of my career to be a part of the Iowa Hawkeye family and to lead a women’s basketball program filled with so many talented and remarkable young women who have gone on to do great things in their careers and, more importantly, in their lives.” Bluder went on to say this about Jensen: “There is no better person to lead this program than Jan Jensen, and I am thrilled she will have the opportunity to build on the foundation established. I’m committed to helping her and her staff in whatever capacity they need moving forward.”

Caitlin Clark and Megan Gustafson took to Twitter to show their support for their former head coach and the excitement for Jan Jensen to take the reins.

For new women’s basketball fans, they may know Caitlin Clark as her standout player. She’s not the only player who had a massive career under Bluder. Megan Gustafson is another player who had a huge career with the Hawkeyes, winning Naismith & AP Player of the Year in 2019. Gustafson also won the Lisa Leslie Award. She’s now a star on the defending National Champion Las Vegas Aces.

What’s next for the Hawkeyes?

Jensen is known for her recruiting ability and her development of post players. The Hawkeyes were able to pick up Villanova transfer Lucy Olsen in the portal. She was the third-leading scorer in the nation, averaging 23.3 ppg, behind former Hawkeye Caitlin Clark and USC standout JuJu Watkins. She’ll be playing alongside Hannah Stulke and be added to a solid incoming recruiting class. The rumor mill has also been turning as it’s been speculated that Arkansas standout Maryam Dauda has reportedly been in contact with the Hawkeyes. The 6’4’’ standout had a solid season with the Razorbacks, averaging 6.1 ppg and just over 6 rebounds. This would add depth for the Hawkeyes ahead of the Big Ten realignment this season.

This, as long as players remain on the roster. One would assume so with Jensen being such a huge part of recruiting, but while the transfer portal closed almost two weeks ago, coaching changes allow players to have 30 days after the change to enter the portal. We’ll keep our ears and eyes open, but for now, job well done, Coach Bluder!

Brandolyn Hellams is a journalist and producer in Atlanta, who covers sports and entertainment.

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