Dec. 29, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Friday starts a new beginning for the University of Iowa women’s basketball team, as the Hawkeyes begin Big Ten Conference play at home against Northwestern.
“My message to the team was that everything’s new,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder during Thursday’s press conference in the media room inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “It’s a brand new season. It doesn’t matter if you’re 10-3 or 3-10 coming into this basketball game. Everybody’s 0-0.
“That’s exactly what we needed right now. We need a new beginning, a new opportunity, and I think the players are really fired up to play against Northwestern on Friday night.”
“We’re excited that everyone is starting 0-0,” said junior Jaime Printy, who leads Iowa in scoring at 17.2 points to go along with a team-high 50 assists. “We learned a lot this preseason and got better from where we started. We’re looking forward to getting a new start.”
The Wildcats bring a 10-3 record into Iowa City after dropping a 75-56 decision to Toledo on Dec. 27 in Evanston. Forward Kendall Hackney paces the Wildcats with 17.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while freshman Morgan Jones is averaging 15.5 points and 5.8 boards.
“Morgan Jones is a very, very good freshman,” said Bluder. “She is a scorer and has long range like Jaime (Printy). She’s a good player that we are going to have to contend with.”
After being inconsistent defensively throughout the nonconference portion of their schedule, Bluder isn’t ready to change her defensive approach.
“We’re trying to iron out the same stuff we’ve been doing,” said Bluder. “We are not changing our philosophy or anything like that. We’re trying to get better at what we do.”
Bluder is pleased with the progression of Samantha Logic from 3-point land. After making 2-of-13 attempts over her first 11 games, Logic has gone 5-of-6 from long range over the past two contests.
“She’s worked her way up to 37-38 percent from 3-point range right now, which I think is very good,” said Bluder. “I am really proud of her, because she’s worked her way up to being what we call a green light shooter.”
The Hawkeyes know it will be a grind during Big Ten play, so the team is looking to get off to a good start and defend its home court. Iowa has dropped its last two conference openers, falling at Penn State last season and at home against Michigan on Dec. 6, 2009.
“We have to hold court at home,” said Bluder. “If you want to be successful in the Big Ten you win your home games.”
“It’s extremely important because you want to set the tone for the rest of the season,” said senior Kamille Wahlin, who is third on the team with a 9.5 scoring average. “You want to set the mindset of playing tough for 40 minutes. We want to get off to that quick start and gain confidence and know that we are a team that can be really good.”
Heading into conference play, Iowa will still be without the services of freshman forward Virginia Johnson, who is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.
“She still doesn’t have the green light,” said Bluder. “It’s frustrating and one of those things with a concussion — it’s kind of like walking on glass. Hopefully we’ll get Virginia back. She’s missing a lot of basketball right now, and a lot of learning, and that’s really too bad.”
Tomorrow’s game will be televised on Mediacom beginning at 6 p.m., with Jerry Kiwala and Shelley Till calling the action. The game is a “Family Four Pack” night, so fans can get four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks for just $25.