Nov. 11, 2008
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- 2008-09 Media Guide
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Lisa Bluder’s talkin’ a lot of double-doubles these days. In fact, the entire 2008-09 Iowa women’s basketball team is as they continue preparations for the season opener against Texas State at Sunday 2 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Sure, Bluder and her bunch would love to see many Hawkeyes hit the traditional basketball “double double” during a 2008-09 season that includes a grueling non-conference schedule prior to an arduous 18-game Big Ten Conference slate. Teams filled with players that routinely reach double digits in points and rebounds in games usually fare well in the win-loss column as well.
However, Bluder’s 2008-09 double-double is another level of success and it builds on the achievements of the 2007-08 Hawkeyes. That group shared the 2008 Big Ten Conference regular season title with Ohio State then ran the table at the 2008 Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis en route to a berth in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
“We want to do it again and then some,” said Iowa’s veteran head coach Tuesday morning. “Among our team goals are another Big Ten regular season title, another Big Ten tournament title and another invitation to the NCAA Tournament. And, we want to win two games in Carver and advance to the Sweet 16.”
Seeing double yet?
“It’s doable. We have the players in key positions, we have the leadership,” said Bluder.
The task becomes real Sunday with the season opener. The game against Texas State is the first of 11 non-conference games to be played by the Hawkeyes. It a slate that is loaded with challenges:
At Kansas in a game to be televised live by ESPN.
At No.5 Duke.
Against No. 2 California in the Paradise Jam.
At Drake, a team picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley.
And, in Iowa City in early December, Iowa State, another in-state rival that is picked to do great things in the Big 12, a league that is like the Big Ten – tough and gritty top-to-bottom.
We’re challenging ourselves and we may take our lumps early, but we accept the challenge. We could build a non-conference schedule that allows us to be 9-2, 10-1, 11-0…but it doesn’t prepare us for the Big Ten. This schedule does.”
“We’re challenging ourselves and we may take our lumps early, but we accept the challenge. We could build a non-conference schedule that allows us to be 9-2, 10-1, 11-0…but it doesn’t prepare us for the Big Ten. This schedule does,” said Bluder.
Bluder likes the chances of the Hawkeyes thriving – just not surviving – November and December because of who she has on the roster. She points to the anchors of seniors Kristi Smith, Wendy Ausdemore and Megan Skouby as ample reason for optimism and confidence.
“We have senior leadership in those three individuals who also play three very important positions for us in point guard, shooting guard and post. Toss in two other seniors and tri-captain JoaAnn Hamlin and I think it’s pretty easy to see why we think this is very doable. That we’ll be up to the challenge,” she said.
Bluder’s squad will celebrate the start of another march to Madness Sunday by pointing to the southeast concourse of the Arena where a new banner noting Iowa’s achievements of a year ago flies next to 16 others.
“We’re going to keep adding to that flow of white,” Bluder said with a big smile. “We like pointing that direction when we have recruits on campus because, with the exception of Penn State, no other school in our league is flying 17 banners that are the result of NCAA Tournament participation.
“We have a tradition of regular season success and post-season participation, and we’re very proud of it,” she added.
Bluder does plan to stop one “double” however. Fans who look closely see banners with 2008, 2006, 2004 and 2002 at their bottom. That every-other-year thing isn’t a consideration for the head Hawk because of the aforementioned seniors and what they’ve accomplished in their first three years at the UI.
“This is their last hurrah. They know it. They feel it. The juice flows a little differently,” she said.