Soccer

Solon coach has 'never seen anyone like' Josie Durr, Iowa's steals leader

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You may have heard the name Josie Durr before. Probably in discussions about Iowa City-area soccer. Last year, as a junior at Solon, Durr led the state with 46 goals and 177 shots, and she ranked second with 96 total points.

Expect more of the same from Durr as a senior before she moves 20 miles down Highway 1 to play for Iowa next year.

But she also plays basketball for the Lady Spartans. And she dominates that, too.

Solon's Josie Durr steals the ball during the Spartans' game against West Delaware on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017.

Solon’s Josie Durr steals the ball during the Spartans’ game against West Delaware on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017.

“I told her, ‘You could play D-I basketball, too,'” said Solon’s coach Lisa Bishop, who played basketball from 2001-05 at Iowa State. “She’s amazing.”

The 5-foot-8 Durr and her yawning wingspan lead the state in steals — and it’s not even close. She’s got 95 through 11 games, which averages out to 8.6 per game. In second place is Central Elkader’s Ashley Funk, who has 83 steals through 13 games — an average of just 6.4.

Solon’s point guard/small forward/do-it-all has four double-doubles this year — all through points and steals: 25 points and 14 steals against Independence, 22 and 10 against Washington, 24 and 10 against Anamosa, and 12 and 13 against Dyersville.

“I don’t know; it just kind of happens,” Durr said after notching 27 points and eight steals in last Friday’s win against West Delaware. “I don’t really think about it. I just see the pass lobbed over the top and I know if I can jump and grab it, I definitely am going to try. Or if I can lunge and grab it, I’m definitely going to try. Even if I miss, I can get back and still go after it again.”

I’ve never seen anyone like her and, honestly, I probably never will again.
Solon girls basketball coach Lisa Bishop

Washington coach Jordan Bentley remembers Durr’s performance in Solon’s 62-43 win against his team Dec. 3.

“In terms of defense, her quickness really allowed her to excel,” he said. “Her coach gave her a lot of free will at the top of the defense — like, ‘If you can go get the ball, do it.’ And she’s especially got great length, which allows her to get into the lane.

“I can’t remember anybody that’s gotten as many steals as she has.”

Bentley is right — Bishop said she gives Durr pretty much free reign on defense. Durr plays at the top of Solon’s 3-2 zone defense, constantly bouncing on her feet, tracking the ball, waiting to throw her hands toward a pass anywhere near her.

And that’s the thing: Durr turns good passes — passes opposing coaches can’t even get mad about — into mistakes. Of her eight steals against West Delaware, at least two came on passes that most defenders couldn’t have reached.

But Durr isn’t most defenders.

“I mean, I felt like I was an athlete, but I did not have that,” Bishop said. “I’ve never seen anyone like her and, honestly, I probably never will again.”

Durr began playing basketball like most of us did — around second or third grade, playing “Horse” in the backyard with her dad, Eric, and her big sister, Madi. She doesn’t play club basketball. It’s simply her “fun second sport,” she says.

She’s played club soccer with the Iowa Soccer Club since she was 7, though. Iowa offered her last September, and she committed that October.

Her primary position is center-midfielder, which makes sense: A team’s center-midfielder is its primary passer — someone who’s got to be a ball-hawk, who’s constantly aware of their teammates’ and opponents’ locations.

Sounds like her position in Solon’s zone defense.

“Definitely the anticipation (from soccer helps) on the stealing,” Durr said. “Because it’s kind of the same thing, stealing the passes in soccer and stealing the passes in basketball. It really helps a lot, being able to do both sports.”

Added Bishop: “Josie has always played basketball, but she’s never really worked on it. During summer and the offseason, she’s always doing soccer everywhere. But this summer — and especially fall — she was in the gym a lot more than normal. And I think that has helped her a lot.”

Everyone feeds off of her because she’s such a leader. So when she’s like that, the whole team is believing that we can win this game because they see Josie cranking it up. She just has that ability about her.
Solon girls’ basketball coach Lisa Bishop

She also seems to have stickier hands in crunch time. Three of those eight steals against West Delaware came in the final two minutes, including one with 20 seconds left to ice the 47-42 win.

Meanwhile, she scored 17 of her 27 points in the fourth quarter, too.

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“The thing about Josie is she’s a competitor to the max, and she is a warrior,” Bishop said. “She is not going to let up. And everyone feeds off of her because she’s such a leader. So when she’s like that, the whole team is believing that we can win this game because they see Josie cranking it up. She just has that ability about her.”

Now here’s a fun thought:

Iowa soccer plays its seasons in the summer and early fall — before women’s basketball. Hannah Bluder, daughter of Iowa basketball coach Lisa Bluder, played hoops with Durr at Solon before graduating last year.

Coach Bluder rarely takes walk-ons. And Durr’s plate will be full, even in soccer’s offseason.

But …

“Oh, (Bluder) would take Josie in a heartbeat,” Bishop laughed. “I’m sure.”

Maybe in another universe. In this one, Durr’s “heart is definitely in soccer,” and she’s poised for a successful career as a Hawkeye. She says she’s beyond excited to start this summer.

So it seems Durr’s final Iowa hoops legacy will be as the state’s far-and-away steals-leader her senior year in high school.

Not a bad way to go out.

Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at mbain@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

Solon's Josie Durr takes the ball down court during the Spartans' game against West Delaware on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017.

Solon’s Josie Durr takes the ball down court during the Spartans’ game against West Delaware on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017.

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