Hawkeyes Look to Get Back on Track

Feb. 8, 2011

Complete Coach Bluder Press Conference Transcript

PARDON OUR PROGRESS! As friends of the UI 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 — Coming off a pair of losses, the University of Iowa women’s basketball team looks to get back on track when it welcomes Minnesota to Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday night.

The Hawkeyes and Golden Gophers are at opposite ends of the momentum spectrum entering the contest. Iowa has dropped its last two contests — at Purdue (61-40) and versus Penn State (82-75) — while Minnesota brings a three-game winning streak into Iowa City.

“We’re trying to get back on the winning track this week,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder at her weekly get together with the media. “I think we have a chance to do that against Minnesota, although they are much improved.”

The Golden Gophers dropped their first seven games of the Big Ten season, which included a 63-57 loss to Iowa on Jan. 5 in Minneapolis. In the last three contests, however, Minnesota has downed Northwestern (63-58) and Michigan (60-50) at home before winning at Indiana (65-59) on Feb. 3.

“When we played them the first time, they were in the middle of a seven-game losing streak, and now they’re coming in here on a three-game winning streak,” said Bluder. “They’re coming in with all the momentum, and obviously, we don’t have much right now.”

With the Big Ten regular-season title now out the window, the Hawkeyes look to gain momentum and tally victories to improve their seeding at both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. Iowa is three victories shy of hitting the 20-win plateau for a fourth consecutive season and three-of-the-final-five contests take place in Iowa City.

“We would love to have more wins than we do now, but I do think we can still do some good things,” said Bluder. “I’m not ready to say that this season is not where we thought it was going to be. Are we going to reach our goal to be the Big Ten champion team, no, but we still have the tournament to look forward to.

“It’s incredibly important to get a higher seed. If you want to advance in the tournament, the best way is to go through the least resistance, and that’s having the lower number seeds.”

One area that has been plaguing the Hawkeyes this season is the consistent play from game-to-game and week-to-week.

“I don’t feel like we’re really consistent, and that bothers me a little bit,” said Bluder. “If it was one area that I could put my finger on and say, ok, this is the area that we need to improve on for us to be successful, it would be much easier for us… the consistency or lack of consistency concerns me the most.”

Senior Kachine Alexander, who tweaked her foot in the home loss to Penn State, is expected to play and be 100 percent Thursday. Sophomore Hannah Draxten could be available for the Hawkeyes after not playing the last two games. Draxten is currently sidelined with an eye infection and is waiting for “James Worthy”/”Rec Specs” goggles to arrive for her to wear during practice and game action over the next month.

Thursday’s game is Kelsey Cermak bobblehead night with the first 500 fans receiving the Hawkeye memento. Hot dogs will be $1 for the entire game, and the Skidmarkz Racing Dogs will perform at halftime.

The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network beginning at 8 p.m., with Dave Eanet and Mary Murphy calling the action.