IOWA CITY — Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder has always talked about her team being one big family.
This season, she has the DNA to prove it.
Sisters Makenzie and Megan Meyer will share the court for the Hawkeyes, the first time the guards have been a part of the same team since leading Mason City High School to its first-ever Iowa state championship in 2016.
Makenzie Meyer was a senior on that team, while her sister Megan was a freshman that year.
They’re hoping to duplicate that same kind of success at the collegiate level, where senior Makenzie Meyer is one of three returning starters for an Iowa team that hosts Winona State in a 2 p.m. exhibition Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Megan Meyer is one of four freshmen expected to see action for Iowa in the team’s only exhibition before its Nov. 7 season opener against Florida Atlantic.
“It’s been fun being back on the court together again,’’ Makenzie Meyer said. “It’s like old times. She’s going to have a great career here and I’m glad I get to share one season of it.’’
The pair competes for time at the same shooting guard position in the Hawkeyes’ new-look perimeter-based offense.
It’s an offense that suits the skills of both players well.
Makenzie Meyer led Iowa with 62 3-point baskets as the Hawkeyes built a 29-7 record last season while Megan Meyer owns the Mason City prep record for 3-point baskets in a season.
The sisters shared a competitive approach to things at the high school level, something that has changed a bit since the days when they were dueling after practice.
“We’re both pretty competitive people and we used to really get after it against each other,’’ Makenzie Meyer said. “It got a little physical at times. Now, we want the best for each other and I’m here to help her learn.’’
That has helped Megan Meyer adjust to the collegiate level.
“When I need help with something, she’s there to help,’’ Megan Meyer said. “She’s already done so many good things here and to be able to be teammates again for one last season, that’s a pretty special thing.’’
Having been through it all herself, Makenzie Meyer is more than willing to help her sister get used to the expectations of playing Big Ten basketball.
“I see Megan make a mistake and looking back, it’s like I did the same thing when I was a freshman,’’ Makenzie Meyer said.
“I’ve caught myself a couple of times saying something to her like ‘Why did you do that?’ and then I remember making the same mistake a couple of years ago when I was new here. She’ll work through it, just like I did.’’
Coaching sisters isn’t a first for coach Lisa Bluder, but it’s been awhile.
Bluder coached twins Kathy and Kerry Meade of Geneseo between 1986-88 while she was coaching at St. Ambrose.
“That was a different dynamic all together,’’ Bluder said. “This is more of a big sister, little sister thing.’’
Bluder said the team is having some fun with that, moments when Makenzie Meyer has held her younger sister accountable with the expectations that accompany playing at Big Ten basketball.
“It’s big sister, but its’s also senior-freshman and the type of leadership you want to see from your upper-class players,’’ Bluder said. “It’s been fun once in a while to see her roll her eyes and be exasperated with her. It’s kind of a unique situation.’’
And it’s a situation that both sisters truly enjoy.
“This is something we’re going to have forever, the memories of this season,’’ Megan Meyer said. “It’s been amazing to be here. I’ve always wanted to play at Iowa and to be here and to have a chance to be part of the team with my sister, it’s been pretty incredible.’’
Off the court, the sisters haven been able to share some time as well.
That has allowed Megan Meyer the chance to get away from her dorm room and hang out at her sister’s apartment or just go to dinner together.
“All of those freshmen things, being away from home for the first time, that hasn’t been such a big deal because my sister is here,’’ Megan Meyer said. “I think that’s something my parents probably appreciate as much as anything.’’
They may not be alone.
“It’s been a lot of fun having my sister around,’’ Makenzie Meyer said. “It’s something we both had looked forward to since she committed here and signed, but the reality of it has been even better. We’re both looking forward to having a great season together.’’