Iowa hosts Georgia Tech in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Nov. 27, 2007

IOWA CITY — Depth on the Unviersity of Iowa women’s basketball team suffered a blow, but the level of competition will not see a drop-off when Georgia Tech visits Wednesday for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Tip-off is 8:05 p.m., inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena and the game will be the first for the Iowa women on the Big Ten Network. It is also the first meeting between the schools.

The Hawkeyes will be without starting forward Jenee Graham for at least two weeks. Graham, a senior, broke a bone in her right hand Monday at practice while going for a rebound during a scrimmage. Graham had started all five games this season, averaging 22.4 minutes and a team-high 6.8 rebounds. She will be replaced in the starting lineup by senior Johanna Solverson. Solverson has averaged 7.8 points and 4.2 rebounds this season in 17.8 minutes.

“That’s a loss for us, but we’re in a situation this year a lot better than we’ve been in the past,” UI Head Coach Lisa Bluder said. “We have a little more depth. Thankfully we have 13 players this year.”

Bluder is comfortable with Solverson as a replacement.

“She’s been playing well and I think she’ll handle this extremely well,” Bluder said. “She had three years preparing herself as a starter — she just hasn’t done it for awhile, but she has gone in and played very well for us. That’s a very good replacement.”

Bluder said that freshman Kachine Alexander, who has averaged 7.4 minutes a game, can expect to see more court time.

“Now Kachine will our number one perimeter player coming in both the 2 and 3 positions,” Bluder. “She’ll have more of an important role than she’s had to face. Kachine and Jo’s time will go up significantly.”

Alexander is averaging 1.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

The game against Georgia Tech will be Buck Night, where admission for all adults is $1. UI students and children 18-and-under are free.

“This is a great night for us and a wonderful opportunity,” Bluder said. “It gives fans a great opportunity to watch Iowa basketball at a reasonable cost. We want to show a good atmosphere on the Big Ten Network.”

Georgia Tech is 4-0 this season and the Yellow Jackets are led by senior guard Chioma Nnamaka (19.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg), who has scored in double figures three times this season, and senior forward Janie Mitchell (14.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg).

“This is a great night for us and a wonderful opportunity. It gives fans a great opportunity to watch Iowa basketball at a reasonable cost. We want to show a good atmosphere on the Big Ten Network.”
UI Head Coach Lisa Bluder

“Georgia Tech is a very good basketball team,” Bluder said. “They’ve had some good wins over Temple, a good win on the road at Tulane and they also beat a familiar opponent of ours — Northwestern — from the Big Ten Conference. They’re a very experienced basketball team.”

Last season Georgia Tech won 21 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Once there, the Yellow Jackets defeated DePaul 55-44 before losing to Purdue, 76-63. The Hawkeyes have played their last three games against teams from the Southeastern, Pacific-10 and Atlantic Coast conferences.

“I feel like we’ve played three games in a row now against really quality opponents,” Bluder said. “We’ll have to be prepared for 40 minutes of full-court press. (Nnamaka) is a tremendous player. I think she’s a WNBA-type player. She’s extremely smooth.”

Georgia Tech has held three of its first four opponents to 50 points or less and the Yellow Jackets allow just 51.5 points per game. They also are plus-five in rebounding.

“They’re a very, very good defensive team and a good rebounding team,” Bluder said. “They’re doing those fundamentals very well.”

Iowa will remain in the state of Iowa for the next seven games and 30 days. The Hawkeyes play at Iowa State on Dec. 5, but will not leave the state until traveling to Michigan on Dec. 30.

Iowa leads the Big Ten Conference in three-point field goal percentage (25 of 55, .455) and sits third in field goal percentage (.467), defensive rebounding (30.6) and three-point goals (5.0 per game). Junior Wendy Ausdemore leads the conference in three-point field goal percentage (23 of 34, .542) and is third with 2.6 three-point goals per game.

“I feel so confident with Wendy shooting the ball from three-point range,” Bluder said. “Teams recognize that and don’t give her a whole lot of open looks.”

Bluder said she feels that Ausdemore and junior Kristi Smith are two of the top outside shooters in the league. Smith leads Iowa in scoring (14.0 ppg), assists (20) and steals (10).

NOTES FROM CANCUN — Iowa swiped a season-high 11 steals during a 60-58 loss to Arizona State on Nov. 23. During that game the Hawkeyes forced a season-high 24 turnovers and caused two Arizona State shot-clock violations.

LAST ACC OPPONENT — The last time Iowa faced an opponent from the ACC, the Hawkeyes were defeated 89-76 by Virginia Tech in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament (March 21, 2004). The last regular-season meeting with an ACC foe was Nov. 29, 2002, when North Carolina State defeated the Hawkeyes 69-66 in overtime.

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