Track Meet in Store for Saturday

March 18, 2011

NCAA Tournament Day 2 Photo Gallery

SPOKANE, Wash. — By the sound of things during Friday’s media sessions at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, basketball shoes might as well be traded in for track cleats at Saturday’s first round matchup between Iowa and Gonzaga.

The Hawkeye women’s basketball team met with the media and had its first practice Friday in Spokane in preparation for Saturday’s NCAA Tournament first round game vs. host-school Gonzaga. Most of the talk for the two teams turned to offense. The Bulldogs are the top offensive team in the country at 86.1 points per game.

Iowa and Gonzaga like to push the ball, so both teams are expecting an up-tempo ball game.

“We want to get out and run too,” senior guard Kachine Alexander said. “It’s going to be a fast paced game, but you have to stay under control as well.”

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder has also been impressed with Gonzaga’s speed in transition.

“They’re so fast,” Bluder said. “I watch film and they’re chasing off the Swiffer girls on the other end in transition.”

Iowa’s offense may not be lightning fast like Gonzaga’s, but the Hawkeyes can put up their fair share of points. Iowa is averaging 70.5 points per game, and has scored 90 or more points three times this season. The last time a Hawkeye team scored 90 or more points three times in a season was 2003-04.

“The more I watch Iowa, the more I’m impressed with how they play,” Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves said. “They love to dribble drive, they love to get to the rim and they can shoot the basketball.”

Along with high-powered offenses, both teams have to contain All-America candidates. Both Alexander and Gonzaga’s Courtney Vandersloot were recently named WBCA all-Region, and are up for nearly all the major awards in women’s college basketball. Alexander is the top rebounding guard in the NCAA at 9.5 boards per contest, while Vandersloot leads the country in assists at 10.2 per game.

“She (Alexander) is definitely a very athletic guard,” Gonzaga senior Janelle Bekkering said. “She is one of their top rebounders so I definitely think you need to box her out.”

Kachine Alexander is as good a player as we’re going to play all year,” Graves said. “And we’ve had some good competition.”

Bluder believes Vandersloot is the best point guard Iowa has seen all year.

“I would have to say Courtney (Vandersloot) is the best that I’ve seen thus far,” Bluder said. “Watching her on film, I’m sure she’ll live up to everything in person, but I think she is the best point guard that we’ve seen this far this season.”

All-America candidates and high-powered offenses, mixed with a March Madness atmosphere, should make Saturday’s “track meet” one of the most exciting first round games of the NCAA Tournament.

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