Hawkeyes Eyeing 'Big Week'

Feb. 8, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team is looking for a successful week to shake up the Big Ten Conference standings.

The Hawkeyes posted their first two league road victories last week, downing Wisconsin (85-79 in overtime) and Indiana (83-64). Now the team has its sights set on its first four-game winning streak of the season when it welcomes Minnesota to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday.

A victory would be Iowa’s fourth straight in the series against the Golden Gophers.

“They are a team that is playing well right now,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder during Wednesday’s press conference in the Press Room inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “Minnesota’s record is deceiving. They’re 4-7 in this conference, but one of those wins is against Ohio State, so that obviously has our attention.”

Minnesota freshman Rachel Banham also has caught Bluder’s eye. The guard is pacing the team with a 15.8 scoring average, while shooting 43.8 percent (39-of-89) from 3-point range.

“I believe she is Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten,” said Bluder. “To come in as a freshman and put up the kind of numbers she’s doing is absolutely amazing.”

“Everyone has to step up a little bit because not one person is going to replace having a Jaime Printy on your team. Everyone has to take little steps and as a team, we have to make little adjustments.”
UI freshman Samantha Logic

The Hawkeyes bring a 14-10 overall and a 6-5 conference record into Thursday’s game. Iowa is tied for sixth in the Big Ten standings with Michigan, a half-game behind Michigan State — Sunday’s opponent — for fifth place.

“This week is really important,” said junior Morgan Johnson. “The Big Ten is competitive in where we’re sitting right now. If we want to move up in the standings, we really need to focus on the next two games in getting those wins, especially since they’re in Carver.”

In their first game without junior Jaime Printy, the Hawkeyes received a 19-point showing from freshman Melissa Dixon in her first career start.

“I’m extremely happy with her performance,” said Bluder. “I’m sure she’ll be identified a little bit now. She’s not going to catch anybody by surprise.”

Fellow freshman Samantha Logic says it is going to take a group effort for the Hawkeyes to continue winning.

“Everyone has to step up a little bit because not one person is going to replace having a Jaime Printy on your team,” she said. “Everyone has to take little steps and as a team, we have to make little adjustments.”

Johnson says the team has had to switch some things offensively to account for Printy’s absence.

“It changes a lot of the things we do, especially offensively,” she said. “We’re going to look to some different scoring threats. We have to focus on us and learn how to score without her. Shots are going to come from different spots.

“Dixon did a good job last game stepping up and being a person to contribute there. It is an all-around effort for all of us.”

While last week took an emotional toll on the Hawkeyes, Bluder says the team is looking forward to returning to Carver-Hawkeye Arena and the fan support.

“It will be good for our team to come home,” said Bluder. “We’ll be able to use the enthusiasm of our fans and playing at home. That can mean a lot right now with our bench getting smaller and players having to play more minutes.

“I don’t know if Jaime will be able to be there tomorrow night, but I imagine she’ll try to be there Sunday. That would be good for our players to have her at least part of the bench.”

Bluder said Printy underwent successful knee surgery Tuesday, and she is on the road to recovery. The team hopes to have her back at the beginning of the 2012-13 season.

Thursday’s game is set to begin at 7 p.m. It is the team’s annual “Pink Game,” with $2 of every ticket purchase going to support the Holden Cancer Center.