Brittney Griner, Chelsea Gray Ruled Out for WNBA Tip-Off Game

    Decorated Iowa basketball coach Lisa Bluder announced her retirement on Monday, with assistant coach Jan Jensen next in line to take over the head coaching position.

    Bluder retires as the winningest women’s basketball coach in Big Ten history, amassing 528 wins and five Big Ten tournament titles over her 24 years. During her time at the helm, Iowa made 18 NCAA tournament appearances, including back-to-back trips to the National Championship with star guard Caitlin Clark

    “It has been the honor of my career to be a part of the Iowa Hawkeye family,” Bluder wrote in a statement. “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.”

    She spent the last few years coaching the remarkable Caitlin Clark. The eventual No. 1 overall pick in April’s WNBA Draft, Clark became the all-time leading scorer in D-I basketball, men’s or women’s, this past season, winning back-to-back Naismith Player of the Year awards under Bluder’s leadership. 

    In a tweet posted Monday, Clark reacted to Bluder’s retirement by thanking her.

    “Simply no one better at building a team,” Clark wrote. “Thank you for believing in me more than anyone. Enjoy retirement, coach. Very much deserved.”

    Bluder said Monday that her decision to retire came as she began preparing for the offseason. The longtime coach has previously said she was taking it year-by-year.

    “After the season ended, I spent time with our student-athletes and coaches reviewing the season and preparing those moving on for what comes next,” Bluder said. “With that also came personal contemplation about what this journey has meant to me, how to best champion this program and what the future looks like for my family and me. After then taking some time away with my husband, David, it became clear to me that I am ready to step aside.

    “There is never an ideal time to retire, and I am sure this fall that I will miss the games, the practices, the road trips, the atmosphere, the tremendous fans and, most importantly, the players. But my belief in the foundation of this program, knowing that success is now an unrelenting component of women’s basketball at the University of Iowa gives me comfort as I transition to become the program’s biggest champion.”

    Bluder’s coaching tenure dates back to 1985, when she coached at St. Ambrose University for six seasons before accepting a head coaching job at Drake in 1991. During her nine years in Des Moines, Bluder led the Bulldogs to four Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championships (1995, 1997, 1998, 2000) alongside three regular season titles (1997, 1998, 2000).

    Assistant head coach Jan Jensen has been tapped to take over the role at Iowa, having worked shoulder to shoulder with the outgoing Bluder for a major part of her career. After playing under Bluder at Drake, Jensen moved on to join her former coach off the court as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs.

    “I love Jan to death,” 2019 Naismith Player of the Year Megan Gustafson told The Gazette. “She deserves this, and she’s ready for it.”

    Gustafson’s former Iowa teammate, post player Monika Czinano, echoed the sentiment. 

    “It’s the perfect succession line, in my opinion,” Czinano said. “She’s one of the main reasons for my development. She’s ready for it.”

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