Foreign Trip, Foreign Game

July 19, 2011

Tuesday Practice Photo Gallery

IOWA CITY, Iowa — When the University of Iowa women’s basketball team takes the court for the first time in Europe on its foreign trip, round basketballs and 10-foot hoops might be the only familiar things in the gym.

International rules and regulations are quite different from the college game. The Hawkeyes will play four, 10-minute periods instead of two, 20-minute halves. The shot clock overseas is only 24 seconds, there is an eight-second backcourt violation and the lane is a trapezoid instead of a rectangle.

Head Coach Lisa Bluder said she won’t have the team focus on the different nuances of the international game while preparing for the trip.

“We don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about it,” Bluder said. “We will focus a little bit on the differences towards the end of practice, but we just want to improve on our game during this time.”

Rules and regulations aren’t the only difference overseas. Bluder said the style of play in Europe is not the same as in the United States.

“It’s a little bit different style,” Bluder said. “It’s a quicker game, more physical and European teams traditionally have great shooting range.”

Former Hawkeye JoAnn Hamlin spent last season playing professionally in Switzerland and said the physicality of the European game was the first thing she noticed.

“European leagues and competitions only use two referees instead of three like in the United States,” Hamlin said. “You can get away with a lot more in Europe because there aren’t as many officials watching.”

With only two officials, there is less time to get explanations or question calls, according to Bluder.

“I know the officials don’t like it when I talk to them very much,” Bluder said. “Even when they can’t understand me with the language barrier, they still don’t like it. Coaches have to keep quiet a little more in international basketball.”

Hamlin also said post players have to make an adjustment on post moves, because the lane is a different shape.

“I remember the first time I posted up on the block,” Hamlin said. “I used a post move on the block and went up for a shot. I was still a long way away from the basket. That took some getting used to.”

Iowa is scheduled to play three games on its 12-day trip. The Hawkeyes will face varying levels of competition, playing two national teams and one local club team. Bluder said the difference of age and experience can also make some games on foreign trips difficult.

“Some of the teams you play against are very good and others aren’t that great,” Bluder said. “It’s hard to know what to expect until you get over there. There is such a discrepancy with the teams. Some are national teams with players in their late 20’s or early 30’s that have experience playing in the Olympics. Some are 17-year old kids on a local club team.”

Iowa’s three games in August won’t show up in the win-loss record at the end of the season, but that doesn’t mean Bluder isn’t looking for wins. Coming back home with three victories, however, isn’t the main focus.

“We always want to win no matter where or when we step on the floor,” Bluder said. “At the same time, the main goal is to improve. We can try some new things and bring the freshmen along in the learning experience. The other great part is building team chemistry on the trip and giving the players a once in a lifetime experience.”

The last time Bluder and the Hawkeyes went to Europe was in the summer of 2007. Iowa won the Big Ten regular season championship during the 2007-08 season. Bluder thinks the trip had something to do with that, and is hoping for the same result in 2011-12.

“Winning a Big Ten championship is a big goal for us,” Bluder said. “These 10 extra practices and all the time the team gets to spend together in a foreign country will definitely help us reach that goal.”