March 3, 2008
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by Derek Sawvell
IOWA CITY, IA — After defeating Wisconsin on the road 87-78 on March 2 to win a share of the Big Ten regular season championship, University of Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder was honored as 2008 Big Ten Coach of the Year.
This is Bluder’s second Big Ten Coach of the Year award. Her last came in 2001. Bluder has been named Coach of the Year five times throughout her career at Division I universities. She was named Missouri Valley Coach of the Year three times (1995, 1997 and 1998) while coaching at Drake.
“No matter what happens in my coaching career at this point, I could walk away satisfied,” Bluder said. “It shows we can do things the right way and be successful.”
Bluder is second on Iowa’s all-time wins list and joins Vivian Stringer as the Hawkeyes’ only two-time winner of the postseason award. She also becomes only the seventh coach in Big Ten history to win the award at least twoice.
“We set really high goals at the beginning of the year,” Bluder said. “We set a goal that we wanted to finish in the top three of the Big Ten. All the players really believed in us.”
Iowa women’s basketball coaches have earned Coach of the Year honors five times (Stringer in 1991 and 1993, Angie Lee in 1996 and Bluder in 2001 and 2008). Purdue is the only other school in the Big Ten to have five Coach of the Year honorees. Iowa is 20-9 overall and sits tied atop the conference with Ohio State with a record of 13-5. The Hawkeyes will be seeded second at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis and will not have to play on the first day because of a bye in the first round.
“It’s been a fun year for us,” Bluder said. “It’s been like a Disney movie just to see them cut down the net and see them carry the trophy around Carver-Hawkeye Arena is something I’ll never forget. I hope they had so much fun yesterday that we want to keep doing it.”
The Hawkeyes fell to 2-3 in conference play after a heartbreaking loss on the road to Michigan State in a game in which Iowa watched a double-digit lead fade away in the second half.
“It was a low point, but sometimes when you have those low points it can help build character,” Bluder said.
The team met as a group after that game to help rebuild its confidence and focus resulting in an eight-game win streak propelling them to the top of the conference.
“We did a leadership seminar with the captains (Abby Emmert and Johanna Solverson),” Bluder said. “Having five seniors and five juniors, we were a veteran group. It was a body of work by the captains, the players and the coaches as well.” ,p>After losing a hard-fought game to Ohio State on the road, Iowa won its final two games of the year to finish as co-champions of the Big Ten.
“We’re always changing and trying to evolve,” Bluder said. “They had such positive attitudes all year and it just kept growing.”
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