Bluder All Smiles on Media Day

Oct. 11, 2006

IOWA CITY — Lisa Bluder had many reasons to smile wide when visiting today with media and fans and friends assembled for Iowa Women’s Basketball Media Day 2006-07.

Bluder’s team is ranked in the pre-season. The Hawkeyes join Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State as the four Big Ten Conference teams to enter the year with a small number already attached.

Her 2006-07 roster includes the reigning league Freshman of the Year. Megan Skouby, Iowa’s sophomore post-player, returns after a brilliant freshman season and a summer spent playing abroad with a Big Ten touring team.

In addition to Skouby, Bluder returns her starting point guard. Kristi Smith set a school record for assists by a freshman her rookie campaign. She also was Iowa’s best outside shooting threat, according to the stat sheet.

“I here snow is in the forecast, so, obviously, basketball season must be here,” Bluder smiled.

“I sense a lot of excitement among our team. They gained a lot of confidence last year. We were a very young team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. I know they are confident that they can get there again and advance,” added Bluder.

“This team has great chemistry and an even greater work ethic. They like one another and they are good people. I think we are all very excited to get started and very enthusiastic about what can be accomplished.”
Lisa Bluder

Iowa’s strength appears to be inside with Skouby and Krista VandeVenter, Iowa’s top rebounder a year ago, back in the starting five. Skouby averaged 14 points and five rebounds per game. In addition to her board work, VandeVenter added about nine points a game.

“Megan is ready to build on last year,” Bluder said. “Krista is on track to graduate as Iowa’s all-time rebounder. In an e-mail this summer I challenged her to reach that goal. Her response was one sentence, `You can count on it.’ “

If Iowa is strong inside, its Achilles heel could be the perimeter. Gone to the WNBA is Crystal Smith, Iowa’s electrifying leader who averaged a team-high 17.2 points per game a year ago.

However, Smith wasn’t Iowa’s most accurate three-point shooter. She wasn’t even No. 2. Kristi Smith sank 42 percent of her attempts behind the arc; Wendy Ausdemore knocked down 35 percent. Crystal Smith nailed 34 percent of her team-high 148 attempts.

“Going into the season that’s a legitimate question. Who will be able to knock down the three when we need it?” Bluder asked rhetorically. “Kristi has the ability. So, too, does Wendy.

“Wendy spent last year waiting in the wings. She paid her dues as a freshman,” Bluder continued. “She has the potential and I think she’s ready to show it consistently.”

There’s no question that Bluder likes her 2006-07 squad…a lot.

“This team has great chemistry and an even greater work ethic. They like one another and they are good people. I think we are all very excited to get started and very enthusiastic about what can be accomplished.”

Bluder Bunch – all 11 of them…”Yes. Depth will be a concern all season,” noted Bluder – will again face a challenging schedule. Nationally ranked Louisiana Tech, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Indiana State are among the non-conference opponents that visit Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa also plays at Top 10-ranked Rutgers.

The Big Ten home schedule includes dates with Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue – the three conference peers ranked in the pre-season polls – plus Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan – three teams Bluder singled out as squads with potential to be much better than they have been in recent seasons.

The Hawkeyes could potentially play 16 teams that competed in post-season play a year ago, a total that includes eight that advanced to the NCAA’s Big Dance.

Tough schedules are nothing new for Bluder. However, she did agree with one member of the media who noted that the Big Ten’s scheduling system didn’t cut the Hawkeyes any slack.

Iowa plays Ohio State and Purdue back-to-back in the Arena on New Year Eve and Jan. 3, respectively, and Michigan State at home on Jan. 14 and at Michigan one week later.

“It’s probably our toughest ever,” Bluder said of her team’s schedule. “Sure, the computer didn’t do us any favors, but to a certain extent it’s just the luck of the draw and we’ll have to figure out a way to deal with it.”


Lisa Bluder used media day to introduce a pair of efforts designed to make attending home games of her team a little more “Kid Friendly.”

First, boys and girls high school aged and younger will be admitted free to all home games played Monday through Friday with the exception of Iowa’s Nov. 30 date with Iowa State. Also, six of Iowa’s weekday games – Northern State (Nov. 1), Concordia (Nov. 6), Indiana State (Nov. 15), Louisiana Tech (Nov. 21), Purdue (Jan. 3) and Illinois (Feb. 15) will begin shortly after 6:30 p.m.