March 22, 2008
NORFOLK, VA – Iowa and the seven other women’s basketball teams that will be competing at the Norfolk first and second round site this weekend met the media and had a short practice at the Ted Constant Convention Center today.
Ninth-seeded Iowa (21-10) will face No. 8 Georgia (22-9) tomorrow afternoon at approximately 1:50 p.m. (CDT) in the first round. Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder feels a good start is important.
“Anytime you are the underdog, a good start is important,” said the 2008 Big Ten Coach of the Year. “Not only for our confidence, but also letting your opponent know it will be a tough game. A key for us this season, along with not having the major injuries, is that we are a veteran team with a lot of seniors and juniors.
“We have nothing but respect for Georgia, and everything that program has accomplished in the past,” added Bluder. “We know Georgia is a very good team, with Tasha Humphrey being one of the best players in the United States, we have our work cut out for us there. We’re excited about the challenge, and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Lady Bulldogs Head Coach Andy Landers has noticed Iowa’s veteran roster as well. “In Iowa, you see a team that plays very well together, you’re looking at a veteran basketball team,” said Landers. “They play with a lot of poise and confidence and don’t make a lot of mistakes. They play with a lot of determination.”
One the injury front, sophomore JoAnn Hamlin injured her left ankle in practice Friday afternoon in Iowa City before the team departed for Virginia. However, Coach Bluder expects Hamlin to see action Sunday afternoon. “We’ll have to see when we get out on the floor,” said Bluder, in anticipation of Saturday’s workout. “We won’t know how much she will be able to play until we’re out on the floor. We’ll know a lot more on her status Sunday morning.”
With a senior and junior dominated squad, the Hawkeyes know a strong effort will be needed to advance in the NCAA Tournament.
“After the loss at Michigan State, we were upset, the coaches were upset, said senior Johanna Solverson. “We sat in the locker room as a team, saying that we have to stop saying we will get the next one, and the next one. We realized there is no next one, and that if we want to make it to the NCAA Tournament, it starts now. We all took it upon ourselves as a team to do better at the little things, playing defense and rebounding. We held each other accountable, and worked hard in practice and the remaining games. Since the Big Ten Tournament we have focused in practice the last two weeks. We’ve been having great practices and it’s been very competitive.
The Iowa Hawkeyes arrived in Norfolk Friday night via charter at 8:30 p.m. (EDT). After checking into their hotel the team, band, cheerleaders and support staff had a dinner buffet before getting a good night’s rest. The Hawkeyes are staying on the oceanfront in Virginia Beach, which is about 30 minutes from Norfolk.
Saturday morning, the Hawkeyes enjoyed some free time relaxing at the hotel, walking the boardwalk and the beach under sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 60s.
Sunday’s contest will be televised regionally on ESPN. Fans in the state of Iowa and Georgia will see the game in its entirety, while others will see whip around coverage of: Miami (OH) vs. Louisville, Coppin State vs. Maryland or SMU vs. Notre Dame. All tournament games can be watched in their entirety via ESPN Full Court pay-per-view ($69) or online at ESPN360.com.