March 3, 2009
- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
- 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
- Big Ten Tournament Game Notes (March 3)
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 2008 University of Iowa women’s basketball team won 20 regular-season games. Same in 2009.
The 2008 Hawkeyes won 13 times in Big Ten Conference play. Same in 2009.
In 2008, Iowa relied on the experience and leadership of five seniors. Same in 2009.
This weekend’s Big Ten Conference Tournament is a chance for the 2009 Hawkeyes to separate a bit from the accomplishments of yesteryear. Last season Iowa was ousted in the tournament semifinals by eventual champion Purdue, 80-73. The Hawkeye’s bid for a 2009 championship begins Friday, March 6, against Minnesota at approximately 7:15 p.m. from Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Bluder enters her ninth Big Ten Tournament (after winning it all in 2001). She knows it is a thorny weekend, but she also knows that the Hawkeyes are motivated.
“It is very difficult to play that many games in a short amount of time,” Bluder said at Tuesday’s media conference inside the Carver-Hawkeye Arena press room. “We know it’s a tough thing to do, but it’s something we didn’t do last year and I think this year’s team would like to do something that didn’t happen last year and they still have a possibility here.”
“We talked about it at the beginning of the season,” UI senior Wendy Ausdemore said. “Winning the regular season but then not being able to win the tournament was something we wanted to change this year.”
Under Bluder, the Hawkeyes are 7-7 in the previous eight conference tournaments. Friday’s game against Minnesota will be the 1000th in the history of Iowa women’s basketball. The Hawkeyes split two regular-season meetings against Minnesota this season, winning by 17 at home (74-57) and losing by six at Minnesota (64-58). Iowa enters the game with a record of 20-9 overall. The Gophers are 19-10.
“Minnesota has been kind of an up-and-down team,” Bluder said. “Which Minnesota will show up? I think our team will be ready to go, but I also know Minnesota has added incentive because people are saying they’re a Bubble Team right now and they have to beat us in order to get into the NCAA Tournament. That’s pretty strong motivation, so I know they’ll give us their best shot.”
“It is very difficult to play that many games in a short amount of time. We know it’s a tough thing to do, but it’s something we didn’t do last year and I think this year’s team would like to do something that didn’t happen last year and they still have a possibility here.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder
When Iowa lost to the Gophers in Minneapolis, it marked the fifth consecutive game missed by junior JoAnn Hamlin because of injury. Hamlin has returned to the lineup and is averaging 18 minutes of playing time in the last six outings. During that span, she is averaging 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds.
“We’re on a roll right now and teams are going to be out to get us,” Ausdemore said. “We have to stay focused on our side and do the things to get prepared. Minnesota is a big rivalry. It’s going to be a battle.”
Iowa has won six consecutive games and 12 of its last 14. The last loss for the Hawkeyes was against Minnesota.
“These two teams really compete hard against each other and winning means a lot to them,” Bluder said. “You’re going to see two teams that give everything they can on Friday night.”
The league tournament is also an important springboard for where Iowa is seeded at the NCAA Championships on March 22 and 24. Projected as a No. 8 or 9 seed now, a good showing in Indianapolis could elevate the Hawkeyes perhaps even as high as a fifth or sixth seed.
“Education is a good thing,” Bluder said. “They need to know what they’re playing for. They know what’s on the line. With every game we win in the Big Ten Tournament, we improve our seed. To me, that’s a great motivator.”
Bluder called the postseason individual awards “a great showing” by the Hawkeyes. Senior Kristi Smith was named first team all-Big Ten, sophomore Kachine Alexander was second team by coaches and third team by media, Ausdemore was third team by coaches and honorable mention by media, senior Megan Skouby was honorable mention by both and Wahlin was named to the all-Freshman Team.
“I think it’s kind of neat that we made a sweep with all five of our starters receiving some kind of recognition,” Bluder said.