Feb. 10, 2009
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- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- 2008-09 Media Guide
- Purchase tickets online!
- Follow the Hawkeyes to the Big Ten Tournament
- Iowa-Ohio State Game Notes (Feb. 10)
IOWA CITY, Iowa — If the NCAA women’s basketball brackets were filled today, University of Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder is confident the Hawkeyes would be one of the 64 teams selected.
“I think the (Big Ten Conference deserves six team in the NCAA Tournament) because of how close those six teams are to each other at this point,” Bluder said at a media conference Tuesday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena’s press room. “I think if it was picked today, we’d be in. It’s so close among those top six teams. Obviously we want to get up higher than that and not be sitting here saying lots of prayers the night before. We’ve had some good wins in our conference against some good, top 25 opponents.”
An opportunity for the biggest win for the Hawkeyes to date is Thursday, Feb. 12, at 7:05 p.m., against No. 13 and league-leading Ohio State (19-4 overall, 10-2 Big Ten). There will be no shortage of story lines when the teams battle in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
1) Iowa and Ohio State shared the regular-season conference championship last season.
2) This is the only regular-season meeting between the traditional Big Ten heavyweights.
3) Hawkeye senior Megan Skouby, a native of Mentor, Ohio, will square off against one of the top post players in the country in Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender.
4) Ohio State is the only Big Ten team the senior class of 2009 has yet to defeat (the Buckeyes have won the last 10 in the series).
“We’re excited to have them on our home floor,” Bluder said. “We think that’s a real advantage to only have them once this year and to have it at home, so we have to take full advantage of that.”
Perhaps both teams were glancing ahead at this marquee matchup and failed to take care of business during Sunday road games. Ohio State was tripped at Michigan State, 52-46, and Iowa surrendered a late lead and the win at Minnesota, 64-58.
Although the Buckeyes are a shoo-in for an NCAA berth, Bluder knows that an upset win at home would do wonders for solidifying her team’s chances in the postseason. The Hawkeyes enter the contest with a record of 14-9, 7-5.
“I think the (Big Ten Conference deserves six team in the NCAA Tournament) because of how close those six teams are to each other at this point. I think if it was picked today, we’d be in. It’s so close among those top six teams. Obviously we want to get up higher than that and not be sitting here saying lots of prayers the night before. We’ve had some good wins in our conference against some good, top 25 opponents.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder
“We talk about taking it a game at a time and move our way up into the upper division,” Bluder said. “The thing we can control is to win the next six games. We can control our own movement into the upper division of the conference.”
Indiana is ½-game ahead of Iowa in the standings and a game ahead in the win column. Three games separate the top six teams in the league.
Skouby is coming off one of her best conference games of the season — a 21-point, 11-rebound effort at Minnesota. During the last five games (with junior JoAnn Hamlin out with an ankle injury), Skouby has averaged 39.6 minutes, 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per outing.
“I think it does mean more to Megan just because she is from the state of Ohio and she hasn’t had the opportunity to beat Ohio State yet,” Bluder said. “This game is important to Megan. She’s playing well. It’s a good time for her to go against one of the better centers in the conference.”
Bluder is hoping Hamlin is physically able to spell Skouby on Thursday, with Lavender and the Buckeyes in town.
“Today (Tuesday) she’s going to be able to do shooting drills and individual workout drills,” Bluder said. “That’s a long way from 5-on-5 competition in 48 hours, but it’s a step in the right direction. If we can get her dressed and backing up Megan for a few minutes would be a tremendous first step.”
Prior to this season, the Hawkeye seniors were also 0-3 against Iowa State. Iowa blew the No. 22-rated Cyclones out of Carver-Hawkeye Arena 66-46 on Dec. 7.
“We talked about it before the Iowa State game that was something they hadn’t been able to do either,” Bluder said.
“That was good motivation for them then and hopefully we can use that as motivation for the Ohio State game, although I don’t even think that will be necessary. There is so much more that we’re playing for and we’re down to three home games. There are so many things you hope that your team is excited about playing basketball this time of year and beating Ohio State would definitely be one of them.”
Iowa returns to the road Sunday, Feb. 15, to play Penn State (9-13, 4-8) in State College, Pa., with a 2:05 p.m. tip (Iowa time). Those teams played a three-overtime thriller Feb. 1 with the Hawkeyes winning, 97-89. It will be the Pink Zone game for the Nittany Lions, so both teams will dust off their pink uniforms they wore two weeks earlier in Iowa City.