Nov. 18, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — When University of Iowa head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder looks at Saturday’s opponent, Northern Iowa, she’s sees a lot of her Hawkeye team.
“I think our teams resemble each other very much,” said Bluder during a media teleconference Friday. “We both want to push the ball; both play a similar offense and a similar defense. We are two teams that mirror each other very much.”
The early season numbers prove Bluder’s point.
Iowa is averaging 77 points per game; UNI is scoring 74.5 per contest. The Hawkeyes are connecting at a 39.7 percent clip from 3-point land; UNI is shooting 35.7. Iowa is averaging 18.3 assists per game; the Panthers average 21.0.
Rebounding is a different story. The Hawkeyes are -6.3 in rebounding margin, while Northern Iowa is +5.5.
“You want to be the best team in the state. Last year, we swept UNI, Drake and Iowa State. It’s a wonderful feeling to be the state champs. That’s one of our goals, so UNI is one of the first steps in reaching that goal. It adds a little more pressure for your players because they want to carry that pride of being the best team in the state.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder
“The rebounds are a situation we need to take care of and change,” said Bluder. “We made a step in the right direction with the last game, but it’s not enough, not good enough yet.”
Iowa lost the rebounding battle in the first two games, 88-64. The team righted the ship in Wednesday’s 82-60 victory over Albany, out-rebounding the Great Danes, 42-37.
Bluder points to the graduation of Kachine Alexander as the main reason her team has struggled on the glass. The former guard averaged 9.5 rebounds per game during her senior season, and she finished with 910 career rebounds.
“We had a dominant rebounder on our team the last few years,” said Bluder. “We kind of got lazy with it and let her go to work. A lot of the time we would box out and let her go and pursue the ball. Now sometimes we’re boxing out and nobody is going to the ball.
“We have to change our mindset. Everybody needs to box out, but we have to go get the ball.”
Bluder says all games on the schedule each year are important, but the in-state rivalry games are always special.
“You want to be the best team in the state,” said Bluder. “Last year, we swept UNI, Drake and Iowa State. It’s a wonderful feeling to be the state champs.
“That’s one of our goals, so UNI is one of the first steps in reaching that goal. It adds a little more pressure for your players because they want to carry that pride of being the best team in the state.”
Saturday’s game will be televised live on Mediacom beginning at 3 p.m. Jerry Kiwala and Cindy Stein will call the action live.