You couldn't spot the state's leading rebounder by watching Underwood go through pregame warmups.
She stands 5-foot-6. She doesn't jump particularly well.
But then the game starts and one girl is beating everyone to the ball. One girl clearly is more relentless in her pursuit of the prize.
“I feel like when other girls go up, they try to get the ball. I go up to get the ball,” Allison Waters says matter-of-factly.
Through 13 games, Waters leads all Iowa rebounders by a wide margin, with 16.5 per contest.
“She asked me the first day of practice what the (single-game) school rebounding record was,” Underwood coach Brian Rasmussen said. “She told me, 'Well, I'm going to beat that.'”
After averaging 6.5 rebounds as an occasional starter her sophomore season, Waters tied the school record held by Heather Minssen and Amy Lintner with 20 boards in the team's season opener with Essex. Four games later, it was all hers after pulling down 21. In the Eagles' next game, she improved the mark to 22.
Waters has grabbed 21 rebounds in a game two other times.
“She has a nose for the ball, and she plays as if there's no boundaries,” Rasmussen said. “She'll go for the basketball even if it's out of bounds.”
When asked to explain her trade, Waters said it's all about anticipation.
“I can see where they're going after they release the ball,” she said. “I know where it's going so I go to that spot.”
Rasmussen said Waters loves rebounding drills. One full-court drill usually involves two teams of four. Rasmussen puts Waters on a team by herself.
“She doesn't beat everyone, but she's certainly gotten some rebounds, one on four,” he said.
Underwood has struggled this season. Several key performers from last year didn't go out. The season started with eight players in the program. Now it's up to 11, five of whom are freshmen. No regular is taller than 5-7.
After 13 straight losses, Rasmussen took the team to stay overnight at a Council Bluffs hotel last Friday night before Saturday's MAC Shootout. He did it to encourage team bonding and reward his players' hard work. The next morning, Underwood beat Logan-Magnolia 41-34 for its first win.
The celebration in the locker room was something special, Waters said.
“When you've been losing so much, and then you actually win, it really means something to you,” she said. “People were so excited they were crying.”
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