Good Things Come in 3s for Bluder's Bunch

March 2, 2010

Hawkeye Player Interviews (March 2, 2010)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s widely believed that things happen in three’s.

Good things come in three’s, bad things occur in three’s. Whether you’re a believer or not, it’s no secret the University of Iowa women’s basketball team will use the number three to its advantage at the upcoming Big Ten tournament.

Iowa (17-12 overall, 10-8 Big Ten Conference), the No. 3 seed for the first time in the tournament’s 16-year history, tips off Friday at 1 p.m. with the intention of capturing its second conference tournament title under the direction of three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, Lisa Bluder.

“There are so many good things to being the third seed,” said Bluder during a meeting with media Tuesday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “Obviously, the first-round bye; it’s nice that you get to play somebody that has already played the day before and really has just over 24 hours to prepare for you.”

The Hawkeyes will face the winner of Thursday’s matchup between No. 6 Penn State and No. 11 Minnesota. Earlier this season, the Hawkeye lost a combined three games to their potential opponents, including two overtime setbacks on the road.

“People have asked me who we want to play,” said Bluder. “We really don’t care. It really doesn’t make any difference to us which one of the teams we are playing. I know our team is going to be anxious to play no matter what.”

Count Iowa’s “Big Three” among those anxious for the Hawkeyes’ quarterfinal matchup. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jaime Printy and all-Big Ten teammates Kashine Alexander and Kamille Wahlin survived Iowa’s injury-plagued season and were recognized for their efforts by being named all-Big Ten this week — an accomplishment not lost on their award-winning coach.

“That all three of our guards are in the top 15 players in the Big Ten is absolutely tremendous,” said Bluder. “That is a hard task. That is something that is very difficult to accomplish. With them sharing so much of the scoring load, it brings all their numbers very balanced and for people to recognize that all three of them are so important to our success, I think that is just terrific.”

“People have asked me who we want to play. We really don’t care. It really doesn’t make any difference to us which one of the teams we are playing. I know our team is going to be anxious to play no matter what.”
UI head coach
Lisa Bluder

Printy will be making her first appearance at the Big Ten Tournament, but she’ll find comfort in playing either of Iowa’s potential opponents. The Hawkeyes’ all-time freshman scoring leader averaged nearly 21 points in Iowa’s four games versus Minnesota and Penn State, and she is excited to showcase her offensive skill set on the conference’s biggest stage, the Conseco Fieldhouse.

“I’m excited,” said the Marion, Iowa-native. “Everyone says it’s a really, really cool place to play. I’m excited to get down there and get going.”

Printy will have the green light to get going from the opening tip. She broke the all-time freshman scoring record against Indiana last week and can propel the Hawkeyes through the tournament by sticking to her bread and butter, the 3-point shot. In 2010, Printy made 71 3-pointers, 22 more than former freshman record holder, Lindsey Meder, en route to her consensus Big Ten Freshman of the Year honor.

“(Jamie’s Big Ten honor) to me was automatic,” said Bluder. “It wasn’t surprising to me at all, but I’m glad to see that everyone else respects her so much that it was a unanimous decision. Everyone recognized that she was the best freshman in the league.”

Also among the league’s best, Alexander is prepared to be the veteran leader of a young Hawkeye team, both on the court and off. After sending a team-wide text message last week expressing her excitement for the upcoming challenges, the Big Ten’s leading rebounder helped Iowa clinch the No. 3 seed by posting her 23rd career double-double at Wisconsin. The 5-foot-9 guard is now just three double-doubles shy of passing Amy Herrig as Iowa’s all-time leader in double-doubles.

“We learned a lot after our big win over Wisconsin,” said Alexander. “Everyone is really excited and working off the hype that we had there. I think we’re ready and wanting to go out there and win it because we really believe we can win it. There is no clear-cut favorite to win the Big Ten Tournament this year.”

Nor is there a clear cut number that earns a team an at-large bid into the 64-team NCAA tournament. A week ago Bluder thought two more wins would be enough to solicit an invitation, but after a 2-0 week, the head Hawkeye is still eager to beef up Iowa’s tournament resume.

“I feel like we need to win a game,” said Bluder, referring to the Big Ten Tournament. “Obviously winning three would be the best-case scenario because then we take it out of everybody’s hands. But I do feel like we need to get a first round win there.”

A victory Friday would be the Hawkeyes’ third in a row and a three-game winning streak through the Big Ten Tournament would secure Iowa’s third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.

So if the Hawkeyes don’t know it now, they’ll soon find out: good things happen in three’s.

Hawkeye fans attending the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis should make plans to attend the pre-game Hawkeye Hoops Huddles held prior to each Iowa basketball game.

The Hoops Huddles, presented by the National I-Club and UI Alumni Association, will be held at Jillian’s, 141 S. Meridian Street in Indianapolis. Jillian’s is located one block west of Conseco Fieldhouse, on the corner of Meridian and Georgia.

The first Hawkeye Huddle will be held Friday from 11:30-1 p.m. (ET). As Iowa progresses through the tournament, Huddles will be held 2 1/2 hours prior to each Hawkeye game.

All Hawkeye fans are welcome to attend the free event, which includes snacks, cash refreshments, Hawk Shop door prizes and a performance by the Iowa Spirit Squad.

Fans can visit for more information.