Iowa Chomping at the Bit for Penn State

Jan. 13, 2010

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Lisa Bluder hates to lose. She said so at a press conference Wednesday in the press room of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

But losing and then taking seven days off before the next tipoff is almost too much to handle.

“I hate sitting of a loss. That’s very hard” Bluder said of a 63-46 setback at Michigan on Jan. 7. “You enjoy a break much more when you’re sitting on a win and feeling good about yourself at the same time.”

Bluder’s Bunch returns to action Thursday, Jan. 14, against Penn State with a 7 p.m. start in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Nittany Lions defeated Iowa 77-73 in overtime Dec. 28. The game will be streamed live on for $2.99 and will re-air on the Big Ten Network Friday at 8 a.m.

“Playing at home is something our team is really embracing,” Bluder said. “We’ve had two road games and three of the last four have been on the road. For us to play at home is pretty exciting. That will bring a little energy as well.”

Iowa’s post-Christmas slate has included games at Penn State, at home against Wisconsin (Dec. 31), at Minnesota (Jan. 3) and at Michigan (Jan. 7). The lone victory was 61-51 against the Badgers. The Hawkeyes are currently 8-8 overall, 1-4 in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa has won three in a row at home against the Nittany Lions.

“I know the reality is we’re 1-4, but with these players and this young team, you also have to work on building confidence,” Bluder said. “We could be 4-1 and really in the thick of things.”

Ohio State is 5-0 in league play, but the next 10 teams are separated by just two games.

“Ohio State is the clear favorite out there sitting undefeated and playing very, very well,” Bluder said. “It’s wide open after that. You think how close we’ve been in some of these games and how easily we could be 4-1 instead of 1-4.”

Bluder called the 17-point loss at Michigan her team’s “poorest performance of the year.” She said the Hawkeyes are ready to move on and they are anxious to return to the court.

“I think we’re going to see a different energy level out of our team,” Bluder said.

In the first meeting 16 days ago, Penn State’s Tyra Grant scored 28 points, including 13 of 14 free throws, as the Nittany Lions (11-4, 3-2) outscored Iowa 15-11 in the extra period. Grant averages 19.5 points and 16 field goal attempts per game.

“She’s definitely the key to their team. We have to pay attention to her,” Bluder said. “She’s a very talented player.”

Iowa sophomore Kamille Wahlin nearly matched Grant’s point total in late December, pouring in 27 points with seven 3-pointers. Like her coach, Wahlin is ready for another game.

“It’s nice to have a good break,” Wahlin said. “We had a couple days off, so it’s been good rest time.”

Thursday is UI Faculty/Staff Appreciation night. All UI faculty and staff who show their University ID will be admitted free. The UI Dance team will perform at halftime and one lucky fan will win two round-trip airline tickets, courtesy of Allegiant Air. The Hawkeyes will also sign autographs after the game.

The Hawkeyes return to the road to play at Purdue on Sunday and at Illinois on Thursday, Jan. 21.