Hawkeyes Talk NCAA Tournament

March 16, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Iowa women’s basketball team sees a lot of itself when taking a quick one over at Gonzaga, the team’s upcoming first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament.

“They’re kind of like us,” said senior Kachine Alexander, a first team all-Big Ten selection. “They shoot the 3-pointer very well, they’re a transition team. They’re not a really big, big team.

“It’s just us. It’s us playing ourselves, that’s the kind of game they play. We like to run too, so it should be fun.”

The Bulldogs do like to get out and run, as they push the ball up-and-down the court en route to 86.1 points per game, which makes them the highest scoring team in the nation. The squad is led by All-America candidate Courtney Vandersloot, a three-time West Coast Conference Player of the Year, who averages 18.6 points and a nation-leading 10.2 assists per game.

The Hawkeyes know they will have to focus on their defense to get ready to face the Bulldogs.

“We’ll focus on defending them because our coaches say they’re a high-powered offense,” said junior Kamille Wahlin, who is third on the team with a 12.1 scoring average. “They’re guard oriented and get up and down the court, so we’ll probably spend a lot of time on defense (in practice).”

The Hawkeyes enter the NCAAs with confidence from their performance in 2010. Iowa opened the tournament with a 70-63 victory over Rutgers before falling to second-ranked Stanford in second round action.

“Everyone on this team has been to the NCAA Tournament, so that will help us a lot this year,” said sophomore Jaime Printy, who leads the team with a 16.5 scoring average. “We’ll go into the game with confidence, knowing what it takes to win in this tournament.”

“It’s nice to have everyone back and having that feeling of winning in the NCAA Tournament,” said Alexander. “We definitely want to get a second one.”

The Hawkeyes know the challenge that lies ahead in having to face Gonzaga on its home court. The Bulldogs were nearly flawless at the McCarthey Athletic Center in 2010-11, posting a 13-1 record with their lone defeat coming at the hands of third-ranked Stanford by six points.

“We can take that challenge on,” said Alexander. “This whole year we’ve been taking on challenges with our strength of schedule and RPI.”

“We might be a tad of an underdog just because they’re playing on their home court,” said Wahlin. “It’s the NCAA Tournament, anything can happen.”

“We’re excited,” said Printy. “It’s hard to play anyone on their home court, but we’ll be ready.”

Saturday’s game is set to begin at 3 p.m. (CT), and it will be broadcast on ESPN2.