Jan Jensen, Women’s Basketball

Jan Jensen

Photo by Tim Schoon.

No, that’s not a typo in Jan Jensen’s bio on HawkeyeSports.com.

Lisa Bluder’s lead assistant on the Iowa women’s basketball coaching staff really did average 66 points a game as a senior in high school.

“The amazing thing is I still had friends,” laughs Jensen, set to begin her 12th season on the Hawkeyes bench.

Following in the footsteps of her grandmother, Dorcas Anderson—a potent scorer herself in the 6-on-6 game in the 1920s and a fellow Iowa Girls Basketball Hall of Famer—Jensen kept on shooting through a stellar collegiate career at Drake, where she played for Bluder and once again led the nation in scoring with a 29.6-point average as a senior in 1991.

From Drake, Jensen went overseas and played professionally in Europe, winning a German Cup, earning a decent living, and gaining maturity and perspective that continue to serve her to this day in her role as a coach and Iowa’s lead recruiter.

“It was awesome,” she says. “The game was another evolution for me. It was a whole different deal. A lot more physical, faster, and international rules are different.

“The development I had as a person was amazing. You grow up in the United States, and that is your only perspective. When I went over there, I was immersed in an entirely different culture, and I realized this world is pretty big.”

As the 2011-12 women’s basketball season approaches, fyi sat down with Jensen to talk about her playing days, her love of Iowa City, and the tight bond of the UI coaching staff.

You led the nation in scoring your senior year in high school, a season that included a 105-point performance. Can you describe that level of success?

It was a different time. It was 6-on-6. So, in essence, it was two games of 3-on-3. It wasn’t full court. You’d have three shooters on one end and three defenders on the other end. You’d score, and the referee would take it out of the net and whip it down to the other end.

If I scored 66, we’d probably score 100. I scored a lot. I played on the inside and had a quick little hook shot. I was blessed. People bought into the game plan, and I was supposed to be the shooter.

What brought you to the University of Iowa?

Our staff was at Drake, and Lisa got the chance to come over here. We had always said that if we could just have a BCS conference school with BCS outreach, we wanted to someday get a crack at that Final Four together. When Lisa left, I got offered the Drake job. I played at Drake, and I like Drake a lot—it’s my second favorite school in the state—but I turned it down. I had been there since 1986, and I wanted to know what the Big Ten was all about.

A few of my favorite things…
Mom’s congo bars

Diet Coke

Lunch with the team at the training table

The book Oh, the Places You’ll Go

The movies Iron Jawed Angels and Rocky

The TV show Modern Family


We have a really strong bond and a really great staff. I wanted to come over with Lisa and get that experience and make sure I was ready for the head-coaching job when it came along. I was probably ready, but we wanted to stay together. Then I fell in love with Iowa City. I’ve had about six or seven head-coaching opportunities and had to think long and hard about at least half of them, but I’m from Iowa, and I love Iowa City. It’s a great place to be, and the best thing about my job is the people I work with on a daily basis.

If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

I’d have more hours in the day. I recruit so much, so I travel a lot. It’s hard to be gone from your team and your family—that and the recruiting stress.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

The CEO of Nike. But I didn’t realize Nike was in Oregon. I thought it was in New York City and had one of those cool, top-floor, penthouse-type offices.

What was your first job?

I grew up on a farm, so my first job was making hay bales on a tractor with my dad and picking beans. That’s the first time I got paid.

If you were to take up a new hobby, what would it be?

I would like to learn to play the guitar. Coach Bluder gave me a guitar when I got my master’s in 1996. That guitar has sat in the corner of my house since then.

If you had to choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be?