Jan. 11, 2012
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COACH BLUDER: This is a good week for us to have a little rest time, I think. You always like to have a little rest time after a win, though. But I like the way that our team has been approaching the last two practices. We’re actually going to take kind of a day off tomorrow, so that’s kind of a nice thing going on the road on Sunday with a day off instead of playing a game on Thursday. I think that’ll give us our legs for the game at Purdue. Obviously it’s a tough situation playing there. They are very successful at home. They’ve struggled away from West Lafayette in the last couple years, but they’ve been very, very strong on their home floor. They’re obviously off to a good start, ranked in the top 20, undefeated in the Big Ten. But again, I like the way that we’re practicing, and we’re going in there believing we have a great opportunity to win.
Q. Aside from actually the quality of performance, what makes that a tough place for you to play?
COACH BLUDER: You know, I don’t know. I just think they’ve had really good teams. I think they’ve had good teams in the past. This year they’ve been grazing by. They’ve just been getting by. They’ll find a way to squeak out wins, which is tremendous. That’s what you want to do when you’re a good team is you find a way to win. But at the same time they really haven’t been blowing teams out like they have in the past, either.
Q. You said Kalli and Theairra and Samantha definitely needed this week off. Are they coming along? Sam has got her ankle and
COACH BLUDER: Right, Sam has been able to practice, but she is very discolored and swollen still. But she’s a kid that wants to be on the floor, and even though she’s in it’s going to take maybe a little bit longer for it to come back, she wants to be out there and get those reps, and she’s doing it. Kalli has taken the last two days off, so she’ll have four days off, so hopefully that will help her with that groin pull. Melissa had surgery Monday, so she’s obviously been out. Virginia has been back in practice, so that’s been good. Let’s see, who else?
Q. Did you say Theairra was nicked up a little bit?
COACH BLUDER: She had a very odd, like a football stinger where you just lose she couldn’t move her neck. She walked out of here in a neck brace on Saturday before the game. But she is doing well.
Q. Is Melissa’s thing better than you guys had thought?
COACH BLUDER: We didn’t know. It was going to be a 50/50 shot until they got in there and looked at it, so it came out as good as what we could have asked for. So she should be hopefully four weeks out that we’ll have her back. We’ll have her back for the last half of February and the beginning of March, so that’s a real positive.
Q. So it wasn’t completely torn?
COACH BLUDER: Correct, it wasn’t completely torn.
Q. Is Trisha pretty close to being 100 percent?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, I think she’s really close. Her foot is feeling really well. Her knee is feeling good. And now she’s getting her conditioning back. She’s getting her legs back and her shooting, her conditioning level. She’s been getting a lot of reps the last week since Melissa has been out, so I think that’s been good for her.
Q. Kamille said you guys have been working on end of game situations. Based on what you’ve played already, do you see a lot of close games going forward?
COACH BLUDER: I see a lot of close games, but I think this is a good time of year just to do that because you have the bye and so you can work on some things, some special situations that maybe you don’t have time to do when you’re getting ready for the next opponent and the next opponent. So this week affords us the opportunity to do some of those things, and they’re fun. They’re fun to work on, and obviously I think they give the team confidence when they’re in those situations.
Q. Did you feel good about the way you guys finished the Illinois game and the Nebraska game?
COACH BLUDER: I felt good about the way we won the Illinois game but not the Nebraska game. You know, I wish we could have fouled somebody differently at the end of the game. I wish we could have obviously converted and not had the turnover. So definitely the Nebraska game didn’t you’re in that situation, when you’re down and it’s under a minute and you’re down a couple possessions, everything has got to go your way. You can’t have any mistakes. It’s got to go perfectly for you. The Illinois game it did. We fouled the right person, she missed the free throw, we made the three. All those things worked perfectly. The Nebraska game didn’t. We had the ball, turned it over, fouled the wrong person, she makes both free throws. So it’s kind of opposite extremes there.
Q. What’s the timetable for Virginia? Would you be able to play her this week if you had to, or are you going to try to ease her back in?
COACH BLUDER: She is nowhere near being in basketball condition. She lost three weeks, and so I don’t have any idea when she’ll be back, but she is nowhere near having her legs and timing and just knowing the plays again and the defenses again.
Q. Jaime is closing in on getting into the top ten in all time scoring here at Iowa and she’s only two and a half years in. What’s that say to you about her scoring ability?
COACH BLUDER: Well, one thing she’s been fortunate, she’s been able to play and be in a starting role since her freshman year, so she’s had good opportunity. But there are a lot of people that have had good opportunities. To be in the top ten in the scoring for Iowa women’s basketball, think of the tradition of this program, that’s an amazing statistic. I hope she feels really good about that statistic, because there have been a lot of great players that have gone through here, and she could really rise in that list with a year and a half left to go. Obviously we think the world of her as an offensive threat. I think she can score in such a variety of ways, and I know she hasn’t been shooting the ball as well from three point range this year, but I honestly believe every time she shoots the ball, I think it’s in. I know it’s going in. I feel like it’s a good shot. I think in the last game she maybe had one ill advised three. That’s not so bad in 35 minutes of play. So I just have complete confidence when Jaime has the ball in her hands that something good is going to happen. Last week I believe she had nine assists, or the last two games, nine assists and one turnover in her time at play, too. So she’s distributing the ball, too, and taking care of it.
Q. She’s getting stronger; it seemed like her first year she might not as drove as much. Seems like now she can drive anytime she wants. That strength and conditioning, does that come into play quite a bit?
COACH BLUDER: Absolutely. Your freshman year you come in here without any basically not a whole lot of strength and conditioning. By now she should be as strong as she’s going to get with just a year and a half left. She is much stronger than she was as a freshman, and I think you see that in her converting three point plays and ability to score the basket but also to be able to draw the foul, and then we know what a great free throw shooter she is. So that’s just matter of fact, putting that in. But to draw the three point play in my mind is one of the best plays in basketball because not only are you getting three points but you’re drawing a foul on your opponent. So I love that play. I absolutely love it. And Jaime has got to lead our team in three point baskets made the old traditional way.
Q. How important is it for the team not to hit the panic button? A couple years ago, rough start, but you finished strong. How important is it for them not to panic route now?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, I don’t think we are at all. I don’t think our team is in that kind of mode. We’re just trying to get better. We’re trying to focus on the next game at hand and forget about the last game. We lost to a good team ranked 15th in the country right now. We had our chances. We had our chances to win that game. It didn’t go our way. All right, let’s move on and try to learn from that. By no means is this team in panic mode at all.
Q. You said Bethany is progressing, she’s having some good moments, and obviously she’s a freshman and learning at the same time.
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, I think Bethany is doing a really nice job. Morgan is such a good role model. She’s such a good mentor. She’s really trying to help Bethany along. Bethany is a good student. She’s learning well from Morgan, and she’s accepting what Morgan says, and she kind of yearns for that. She wants to learn. But I think we’re going to see we already talked about the strength and conditioning is going to make a big difference in Bethany in the years to come. She didn’t come in with much of that. So playing in such a physical conference and playing down low where strength is a big part of your game at the post position, she’s going to get nothing but better down there in the years to come. But I feel like she’s doing what she needs to do. She provides Morgan some rest. She provides us minutes when Morgan gets into foul trouble. Is she going to be somebody that we expect to win games for us? No, not right now. Hopefully that’s in her future. But right now she’s doing what she needs to do.
Q. The way Morgan has emerged, do you feel the need for a couple players to drive the basket? How much do you guys still need the three pointer for your offense to really click?
COACH BLUDER: I think the three pointer is we love it. It’s what we like to do. And so I guess the only good thing that I can say, over the last two games we haven’t shot it well, but at least we didn’t shoot 30 of them then. We’re not taking bad ones, we’re taking good shots, and we’re not forcing the issue. It’s not there; okay, let’s find another way to score. Let’s penetrate and get to the paint, get to the free throw line. We’re doing those things. But if we just would have shot our normal percentage from the three point line both those last two games, they both would have been Ws and the Illinois game wouldn’t have been close. But you’ve got to make them. It’s something that we want to do, and absolutely, it’s frustrating, but we maybe this is a good week to get out of it, too.
Q. Morgan was saying in practice they were all going down. Where is the disconnect coming?
COACH BLUDER: I think it really is a confidence issue. I think if we would make a first couple of them or 50 percent of them to begin the first few in the game, it would make all the difference in the world for us. I really believe it’s a little bit between the ears. It’s just like you see teams and all of a sudden they’ll roll off a whole bunch of threes in a row. It’s because they feel it, they have the confidence. Are they doing anything different than they did the game before when they went 0 for 6? Probably not, but it’s just such a confidence issue. I do think Kalli, her feet were not quite set when she was catching the ball, and we’ve showed her that on tape and she’s really worked hard on correcting her football when she catches the ball so she’s ready to shoot.
Q. Can you just talk about confidence, Theairra on Sunday, that was probably her best extended play of the season.
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, I think you’re right. Theairra played quite a bit. If I remember she played 11 minutes in that game, had a couple baskets for us. So that was it was very nice to see, especially with Melissa Dixon going down. We really need Theairra and Kalli and Trisha to really rise to the occasion, and it was nice to see Theairra do some of that for us.