Jan. 20, 2011
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- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kamille Wahlin is home sick Thursday. Kelsey Cermak had four wisdom teeth removed Wednesday. Yes, the University of Iowa women’s basketball team is glad it had the week off from Jan. 17-24.
“It’s kind of a quiet week for us as far as the playing goes,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder told a gathering of media Thursday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “It’s unusual this time of year to have seven days off. The bye probably came at a really good time for us.”
The time away from competition is essentially calm before the storm. No. 18 Iowa (15-4 overall, 3-3 Big Ten Conference) plays at Ohio State on Monday, hosts Michigan State on Thursday and travels to Illinois on Sunday, Jan. 30.
“You’ve got two top 25 teams (No. 25 Ohio State and No. 12 Michigan State) and then playing at Illinois. All three of these games are pretty important.”
The games Monday and Thursday are rematches; Iowa defeated Ohio State, 89-76, on Jan. 8 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and lost at Michigan State, 63-60, on a last-second shot on Jan. 13. Iowa doesn’t play Illinois again until the second-to-last regular season game (Feb. 24).
With Jim Foster as head coach, the Buckeyes have compiled a record of 136-11 at home. For Iowa, the memory of a 13-point victory over Ohio State 16 days earlier helps neutralize the home-court advantage.
“It gives us confidence knowing we beat them the last game and played them close the last two times (66-64 on March 7, 2010, and 86-82 on Feb. 4, 2010),” Bluder said. “It gives us confidence going into their place knowing how well we competed with them last year. But we also know each game is a brand new game.”
Like the first game, the Iowa-Ohio State sequel will be broadcast nationally. Tipoff is 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2.
“Any time we’re on national television, whether it’s CBS, ESPN or the Big Ten Network, it’s an opportunity for us to show the United States what we’re all about,” Bluder said. “It’s a great tool and we want to use it.”
The week off allowed the Hawkeyes to work on fundamentals and late-game situations. They also spend more time than usual on lifting and conditioning.
“You don’t get to normally do these things in the middle of the season,” Bluder said.
The team will have Friday off, giving them two days of preparation leading up to the Ohio State game.