Jan. 11, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder has been down this path before, and she isn’t panicking.
A season ago, the Hawkeyes opened Big Ten Conference play with a 2-3 record; during the 2009-10 campaign, Iowa won one of its first seven games; in 2008-09, the Hawkeyes were 1-3 in their first four games.
Iowa brings a 2-2 record into a tough road test in West Lafayette, Ind., against No. 17/20 Purdue. The Hawkeyes haven’t won inside Mackey Arena since Feb. 6, 1998 — a 73-67 triumph — and the Boilermakers are 8-1 at home this season.
“I don’t think we are (in a panic mode) at all,” said Bluder, whose team is 10-7 overall. “We’re just trying to get better, trying to focus on the next game at hand and forget about the last game.”
“I don’t think we are (in a panic mode) at all. We’re just trying to get better, trying to focus on the next game at hand and forget about the last game.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder
Senior Kamille Wahlin knows that Mackey Arena hasn’t been the easiest road environment for the Hawkeyes.
“It hasn’t been too friendly to us,” said Wahlin. “But every year is a new year. It’s going to be a tough place, and they’re a tough opponent. We have to go in with an attitude that anything can happen.”
The Hawkeyes are in the midst of their bye week, as they have a full week off before playing the Boilermakers on Sunday afternoon. The team has been focusing on end-of-game situations so it can be prepared in knock-down, drag-out Big Ten games.
“Every game is a dog fight,” said junior Morgan Johnson, who is averaging 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds. “Those games that we get down to the wire, those are games we want to win and come out on top. We’ve done a lot of work with end of the game situations, and I feel like we’ve improved and gotten more confidence from that. When we are in that situation, which we will be, we’ll come out on top.”
Bluder isn’t afraid to say it — the Hawkeyes love the 3-point shot. Over the past two games, the long balls have eluded her team. Iowa made 2-of-14 attempts in the 69-62 overtime victory over Illinois and went 2-of-16 in the 77-72 home loss against Nebraska.
“It’s what we like to do,” said Bluder on shooting the 3. “I guess the only thing that I can say, over the last two games we haven’t shot well, but at least we didn’t shoot 30 of them (each game). We’re not taking bad ones, we’re taking good shots, and we’re not forcing the issue.
“If we would have shot our normal percentage from the 3-point line those last two games, they both would have been Ws, and the Illinois game wouldn’t have been close. But, we have to make them.”
“It’s weird because we do a lot of shooting, and it’s not like we aren’t working hard,” said Wahlin on the team’s recent 3-point struggles. “Sometimes that’s how the ball bounces. We have to not lose confidence; we can’t let it get mental. We have to come and know every day is a new day, every game is new and you never know how it’s going to drop for that game.”
Bluder says when the team gets off to a positive start from long range, things go well. When misses pile up, it has a negative effect.
“It really is a confidence issue,” she said. “If we would make our first couple of them or 50 percent of them to begin in the game, it would make all the difference in the world. I really believe it’s a little bit between the ears.”
Sunday’s game is slated to tip-off at 1 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised on the BTN.