IOWA CITY – Hailey Schneden’s expectations as a first-year walk-on with the Iowa women’s basketball program are modest, yet realistic.
The 6-foot-2 freshman forward from Davenport Assumption expected to provide the Hawkeyes with some size in the practice gym, but has already contributed to Iowa’s 4-0 start.
Schneden has appeared in two games for the Hawkeyes, recording nine of her 15 minutes during Sunday’s win over Stony Brook to help Iowa cope with some early foul trouble.
“It was kind of crunch time still as far as it wasn’t our game yet and she had to come in and play well,’’ coach Lisa Bluder said. “She had a rebound. She blocked a shot.’’
A two-time all-state selection at Assumption, Schneden also scored her first collegiate basket in the win.
With sophomore center Nicole Smith currently sidelined by injury, Iowa currently has 10 active players on its roster and Schneden has found herself getting an early sample of college competition.
She arrived in Iowa City familiar with the program. Her brother, Blake, is a student manager for the Iowa team.
Bluder was familiar with Schneden from watching her play on three straight teams at Assumption that won Iowa state high school championships.
Knowing that the Hawkeyes were in need of size this season, Bluder wondered if Schneden might be interested in helping provide some practice competition for Iowa’s interior players.
“I was coming to school here anyway and I really thought I was done with basketball until this came up and I decided to give it a chance,’’ Schneden said. “If nothing else, I figured it would give me a good workout.’’
She quickly discovered just how physical the college game is.
“It was completely different from what I was used to, but I’ve really enjoyed the experience,’’ Schneden said. “I didn’t come in expecting playing time. I came in expecting to help make the team better in practice. That’s been my main focus, to provide the bigs with some competition in practice.’’
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With only two taller players on the roster, Bluder welcomes the skill Schneden brings to the court but she quickly developed an appreciation for another way she will help the team.
“She has a wonderful spirit about her, a great sense of humor, and almost from her first day here, she brought just the right attitude to our group,’’ Bluder said. “Any good team needs somebody like that and Hailey brought that to our program.’’
That attitude helps Schneden stay grounded.
“It’s been a great experience for me, something I never saw myself doing, but I’m having fun coming to practice every day,’’ Schneden said. “Just to be around a big-time program like this, it’s been awesome. I don’t really have any expectations. I’m just having a good time with it and soaking it all in.’’
That won’t change and when needed, she’ll do what she can to help the team.
Her efforts have been noticed.
“When she hit that basket (Sunday), our bench was so excited. It was like we just won the Big Ten championship,’’ Bluder said. “But, that’s how much this team gets along and cares about each other. That makes it fun.’’