Iowa Can Open Eyes Across America

Dec. 1, 2010

Complete Coach Bluder Transcript (Dec. 1)

PARDON OUR PROGRESS! As friends of the University of Iowa and fans of the Hawkeyes know, the UI Athletics Department is well into a multi-million dollar revitalization of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. This important and exciting project has reduced for this season the number of ticket windows that are operational on game nights. Fans attending the home events of the 2010-11 UI men’s basketball, women’s basketball and wrestling teams are invited to avoid game night delays by purchasing their event tickets online or in advance of game day. If your schedule doesn’t allow for an advance purchase, we recommend you consider arriving at the Arena a little earlier than originally planned. Go Hawks!

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Lisa Bluder calls it `Challenge Week.’ The college women’s basketball world should call it three marquee matchups.

It starts Thursday, Dec. 2, with No. 18 Iowa at No. 14 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. That’s followed on Sunday, Dec. 5, with the Hawkeyes putting their nine-game home winning streak on the line against 6-0 Kansas State in the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge. Four days later, intrastate rival Iowa State comes to town with a 5-1 record.

“They’re such important games for us. I think the nation really looks at these games,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said Wednesday at a gathering of media in the Press Room inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “These are great matchups, especially this early in the season.”

Those four teams own a combined record of 25-1 and all but Kansas State qualified for the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

“It would be a big win for us and it would give us a lot of confidence knowing we can play with anyone in the country,” said UI sophomore Jaime Printy, using the one-game-at-a-time approach by referring solely to the Tar Heels. “We have to come ready to play our game.”

Iowa is 7-0 overall after two dissimilar victories in the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico, over Thanksgiving weekend. The Hawkeyes overcame a 10-point halftime deficit, held James Madison without a field goal for the final 9:23 in the opener. The following night, Iowa made 12 3-point field goals and led by as many as 30 points during a 72-43 rout of Virginia Tech.

“We’ve learned a lot in different games,” UI senior Kachine Alexander said. “(The North Carolina) game is going to be winning on the road against a really good team. We’ve played on the road before, but none of those teams are as good as what North Carolina is going to be.”

The Tar Heels have been to the NCAA Tournament 22 times and won nine ACC championships. Bluder and the Hawkeyes know the reputation of the program in powder blue and white uniforms.

“Michael Jordan’s not wearing a jersey anymore and he’s not playing for the women’s team,” Bluder said of the most famous North Carolina basketball alumnus. “We need to go in there understanding that we have an opportunity — an opportunity to really open people’s eyes across America with a signature win for our program. We don’t have a whole lot to lose going into this game; we have everything to gain.”

Bluder said that although the Hawkeyes are unscathed through their first seven outings, the exciting part is that the team knows it can improve.

“We can be so much better,” Bluder said. “We’re 7-0 and playing some pretty good basketball, but you look at the film and we can cure that, we can cure this. We can take care of that and that’s exciting because we can get a lot better than where we are right now. We can crash (the boards) better than we are and the other things are more technical within our offense — how we’re cutting, using fakes, working together.”

With games against opponents from the ACC and Big 12, conference pride is at stake. Bluder compares North Carolina to a team with Penn State’s quickness and Michigan State’s size.

“The top of our conference was always really good, as well as the top of the Big 12 and the ACC,” Bluder said. “Where I see (the Big Ten) as a whole is the bottom part of our conference is much stronger than it used to be.”

North Carolina averages 91.9 points a game with a season-high 110 in the opener against North Florida. The average margin of victory for the Tar Heels is 44.6 points per game and they pull down 21.7 offensive rebounds a game.

“We need to keep them off the boards and we need to take care of the ball,” Printy said.

North Carolina forces 24 turnovers a game; Iowa turns the ball over 16.3 times per game.

“Their offensive rebounding is amazing,” Bluder said. “Let’s not get into a jumping contest with them because we’ve got to go with fundamentals. That’s going to be the key to a Hawkeye victory, executing fundamentals and making sure we box out.”

Iowa and North Carolina tip-off from Carmichael Auditorium at 6 p.m. (CT) on Thursday. The games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena begin at 2 p.m. (Kansas State on Sunday) and 7 p.m. (Iowa State on Thursday).