Dec. 4, 2007
IOWA CITY — It’s an important and busy week for the University of Iowa women’s basketball team, which will have played four games during an eight-day span from Dec. 2-9. Oh yeah, one of those games is Wednesday, Dec. 5, against in-state rival Iowa State at Ames.
“(The Iowa State game) isn’t the end-all,” UI Head Coach Lisa Bluder said. “Of course it means a lot to both programs, win or lose. But at the same time it’s just one game. We’d be foolish to say that everybody doesn’t get just a little more excited to play an in-state rival.”
Iowa is 5-2 overall, Iowa State is 4-1. Tip-off inside Hilton Coliseum is slated for 7:05 p.m. The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series 20-17, with Iowa State holding 9-6 edge in games at Ames. The Cyclones won 80-74 last season. The game is the seventh event of the Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series (Iowa State holds a 10-3 advantage).
Iowa is coming off a 65-42 home victory over Detroit Mercy on Dec. 2. Seven Hawkeyes tallied six or more points with Kristi Smith leading the way with 10. Nicole VanderPol secured a team-high six rebounds. The Hawkeyes went on a 40-22 run in the second half and held the Titans to 25.9-percent shooting from the field for the game (15 of 58). Iowa also had an edge in rebounding, 44-31.
The Hawkeyes remain balanced offensively, with Smith averaging 12.1 points per game, followed by Wendy Ausdemore (11.6), Megan Skouby (8.9), Krista VandeVenter (7.1), Johanna Solverson (6.4) and Stacy Schlapkohl (6.1). Ausdemore has made 17 of 31 three-point field goals (54.8 percent). Ausdemore leads the Big Ten Conference in three-point field goal percentage and is third in three-point field goals per game (2.43). As a team, the Hawkeyes lead the league in three-point field goal percentage (32 of 83, .386) and are second in field goal percentage (.457), scoring defense (56.0) and defensive rebounds (31.4).
Two areas Bluder would like to see improved against the Cyclones are reducing turnovers and distributing the ball more to players inside the paint.
“It’s not just another game, no,” Bluder said. “Just because you want to approach it that way, but anybody who says they’re not a little more excited for this game is probably lying to you. Then you add on to that Ames and the environment they create. They have an exciting atmosphere they play in every single night. It’s much more exciting to go play in a hostile environment where they have great fan support. I think more is made out of the win or loss than what is really there. It is just one game in the loss column or the win column.”
Iowa State opened the season with three consecutive wins then lost at No. 19 Vanderbilt 62-53 before downing Montana State 76-50 on Nov. 30. The Cyclones are led by Nicky Wieben, who averages 15.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Heather Ezell (13.0) and Alison Lacey (12.2) also average double figures in scoring. Ezell and Lacey have made 17 and 13 three-point field goals.
Iowa State has won nine straight home games and 11 in a row against non-conference competition.
The Hawkeyes will then have two days (Thursday and Friday) to prepare for the KCRG-TV9 Hawkeye Challenge. Iowa opens against Northern Illinois on Saturday, Dec. 8, with a 2:05 p.m. start. On Saturday, the Hawkeyes will play either No. 25 Wyoming or St. Joseph’s at 12:05 p.m.
INJURY UPDATE — Bluder said that Jenee Graham, out with a broken bone in her hand, will be evaluated by doctors on Thursday, Dec. 6.
“She’s progressing, but she still has the blue wing (cast) right now,” Bluder said. “We’re really cautious right now. We don’t want to rush things with her knowing that after this weekend we have 13 days off before we play again. The main thing is having her healed by the time we begin Big Ten play (Dec. 28 against Penn State).
Following the Hawkeye Challenge on Dec. 9, Iowa will be in action next on Dec. 22 against Western Illinois.
PLAYING WELL — For the most part, Bluder was pleased with Iowa’s performance during the three-game stretch against Arizona State, Mississippi State and Georgia Tech.
“There are 120 minutes of basketball and we played 115 minutes of good basketball,” Bluder said. “Yes, I’d like to clean up the turnovers — that’s obvious. But 115 minutes isn’t that bad against three really quality opponents. The goal is to play 120, but I have to look at the positives we’re getting out of these situations as well and I think that’s a real positive.”
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