Nov. 10, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team will host the 26th edition of the Hawkeye Challenge this weekend on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and head coach Lisa Bluder is proud of the product at hand.
“This is one of the oldest women’s basketball tournaments in women’s basketball history,” said Bluder at her weekly news conference Thursday. “We’re proud of this tournament. I think we have a good reputation out there for how we treat our competition, and the fan support we have.”
Admission is FREE to Saturday’s game against Harvard beginning at 7 p.m.
The Hawkeyes will be challenged in their first round game and regular season opener against Harvard on Saturday at 7 p.m. (Admission is free for everyone). The Crimson return 10 letterwinners and three All-Ivy League selections from last year’s team that finished 18-10 overall and second in their conference.
“They’re a good team that’s picked to finish second in the Ivy,” said Bluder, who is a perfect 11-0 in regular season openers at Iowa. “They return three of their top four scorers from last year, including their guard court. It’s going to be a great match-up for us.”
“My confidence is so strong in Jaime (Printy) that I know how hard she works. I know the extra shots that she puts in in the gym. It’s just a matter of time, and it will happen for her.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder
History is on the Hawkeyes side as the team prepares for the Challenge. Iowa has posted a 45-5 record all-time in the tournament, which includes titles in each of the last three years. Wyoming was the last team to defeat the Hawkeyes in the tournament in 2007.
The Hawkeyes are coming off a 65-51 exhibition victory over Winona State on Nov. 6. Iowa faced a 23-19 halftime deficit before erupting for 46 second half points to claim the 65-51 win.
“Our offense still isn’t there,” said Bluder. “That’s always the slower thing to come around because it’s timing and reading defenses. It’s a lot harder to play offense and learn a new offensive system.”
Preseason All-Big Ten selection Jaime Printy struggled with her shot in the game, finishing 2-of-10 for six points in 23 minutes. That doesn’t worry Bluder one bit.
“You never like to see one of your shooters struggle,” said Bluder. “But I have such confidence in Jaime, it will never die. My confidence is so strong in Jaime that I know how hard she works. I know the extra shots that she puts in in the gym. It’s just a matter of time, and it will happen for her.”
Bluder and the Hawkeyes will have a busy weekend with two games scheduled, while also hosting recruits on campus to correspond with the final home football game of the season against Michigan State.
“I don’t think we’re going to sleep this weekend,” said Bluder. “It’s going to be a very busy weekend for us. We’re going to juggle it all.”
With a short turnaround between Saturday’s first round game against Harvard and Sunday’s game against either UNLV or Butler at 2:30 p.m., Bluder expects to showcase the depth on her roster.
“Sometimes you have a plan going into a game, sometimes it changes when you’re in the game because of the situation,” said Bluder. “We would like to get a lot of people in this game.
“Our bench is deeper and stronger than it has been in the past. We as coaches need to use that in order to free up some minutes for our top five, six, seven players, so they’re strong again on Sunday.”
Bluder took a moment to welcome her four player recruiting class — Kali Peschel, Nicole Smith, Claire Till and Kayla Timmerman — who signed National Letters of Intent with the Hawkeyes on Wednesday.
“We’re excited to welcome Claire, Kali, Kayla and Nicole as future Hawkeyes,” said Bluder. “We signed a really good class for us as far as bringing in some height and also bringing in some kids that really fit our system.”