Feb. 15, 2012
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COACH BLUDER: First of all, some good news this week. Just want to congratulate Sam Logic on getting Freshman of the Week, and co Player of the week in the Big Ten. Both tremendous honors for Sam. It’s nice to see her development as the year has gone on and see her really rising to the occasion here at the end of the year.
Also, we’re thrilled about getting the NCAA Tournament bid for next season. We know the home court advantage is strong, and we’re thrilled to not only have the home court advantage, but also bring to Iowa City the National Women’s Basketball Tournament. So I think it’s tremendous for our basketball community, and we’re very, very happy that the administration at the University of Iowa got behind that bid and successfully was awarded that bid.
Michigan this week, only one game, but it’s an important one. I feel like I come in here and say that kind of every week, but this is an important game. We have three games left and two of them are against Michigan. We are neck and neck in the standings with Michigan. So this game is important because we’re neck and neck in the standings, but it kind of lays the ground work for the next time that we play them just a week and a half later. They are obviously a good team with two exceptional wins in the Big Ten. Winning against Ohio State and also beating Nebraska at Nebraska last week. So they’re coming into this game with great momentum.
Things that concern me about this game, their post is their leading scorer. Rachel Sheffer is her name. She’s only 6’1″, so she’s not truly a true back to the basket post. In fact, she shoots three’s at a very good rate. One of the better three point shooters on their team. She can drive from outside and could be a defensive it could create some defensive problems for Morgan. Also, I think their point guard is very good. Courtney Boylan has been around the Big Ten for a long time, has played a lot of basketball, is a senior now, and I think she’s the heart and soul of that team. I think as she goes, they kind of go. She is going to be a handful as well.
This team all shoots three’s. There is not one person that you can help off of because everybody on this team shoots three’s. They’re also a very good defensive team. They’re a physical defensive team, but I can’t think of a better time to be going on the road than after winning five in a row.
Q. Coach, you mentioned how they have a very good defense. Their defense is actually second in the Big Ten in scoring. How do you plan on attacking them tomorrow?
COACH BLUDER: The same way we always do. We don’t change things up. We stick to our game plan. We want to push when it’s there. When it’s not there, we run our offense, and try to work the ball for good shots, high percentage shots. As long as we take care of the ball and don’t have turnovers, we will get good shots within our offense if we have patience and can control the ball.
Q. Did you talk to Kelly at all to cover the center because she’s more athletic and maybe a little quicker?
COACH BLUDER: No, because their power forward is the same thing. She’s identical. In fact, their power forward is the best three point shooter on the team. So Kelly’s actually a very good match up for their power forward.
Q. How have you been practicing against Morgan this week is this has she gone against guards?
COACH BLUDER: We’ve only had one practice thus far. With our gray squad, we asked them to try to bring her out away from the basket a little bit, so she gets used to that. It’s not like she hasn’t seen it all year, but at the same time, it is different. So she needs to be very active, use her feet to stop the drive, get out and cover the three point shot. But usually when Morgan knows the three point shooter, she’s very good at getting out and covering, using her height to cover a three point shot. Now, remember, it’s a defensive problem for us, but it’s also a defensive problem for them. At 6’5″ going against their 6’1″ post, we have an advantage inside, and we plan to try to use that as well.
Q. What can you say about Sam’s development so far this season? She’s a Top 10 recruit. Do you think it took her to this point in the season to really carve out her role?
COACH BLUDER: I think all freshmen develop at a different rate. I’m certainly happy with where Sam is playing right now. I think she’s played very well in the last four games or during our win streak here. I think that has contributed greatly to our win streak. I’m very happy with the way she’s playing. She’s understanding that she has to play defense. She can’t relax on the defensive end, especially on the weak side of the defensive end. I love the way, when she gets 13 rebounds for us, that puts a big smile on my face. I just think that Sam is being more aggressive right now on the offensive side of things and that’s helping us.
Q. She’s leading the team in rebounding. What allows her to do that? Is it good instincts or being in the right position?
COACH BLUDER: I think she’s very aggressive to going to the ball. Part of rebounding is technique, and part of it is wanting it more than your opponent does. I think that Sam has shown a great desire to go after the ball and secure the ball after the box out. Part of it is she’s a strong player, but she’s not the tallest player on the floor by any means. I think she’s understood the value of rebounding, that we need her to do it and she’s stepped up and done it.
Q. Does she have a little Kachine in there?
COACH BLUDER: I don’t want to compare anybody to Kachine. I think Kachine was definitely her own player. But that attitude would be nice to have right now. The person that’s going to go get that ball and pursue it no matter what.
Q. Her production numbers, are those sort of a normal freshman kind of a thing?
COACH BLUDER: She’s been up and down a little bit. Again, freshmen all come around at a different pace. I think freshmen are going to have inconsistent nights. They’re not used to it yet. They’re not used to playing on the road or against a physical team or quick team. I think they’re going to be up and down a little bit more than what you would expect your seniors and juniors to be that have been around the block a few times. So, again, I’m very grateful that Sam’s here. She’s a great Hawkeye, and she’s doing some good things for our team right now.
Q. Seems like Michigan has a habit of starting strong and fading late. That hasn’t really happened this year. Is this one of the best Michigan teams, maybe the best Michigan team, since you’ve been here?
COACH BLUDER: I don’t know if it’s the best Michigan team, but it’s certainly one of the best ones that are playing well at the end of the year. Like you said, they’re a team that usually has started the season very well and kind of tapered off toward the end of the year. Obviously, with a win over Nebraska just last week, that’s not happening with this team this year. So something’s different. I’m not sure it’s the most talented team they’ve ever had, but it’s certainly the team that’s playing the best at the end of the year.
Q. Virginia’s status, would you say she’s still day to day?
COACH BLUDER: I would say she’s doubtful for Thursday.
Q. Does she have to go through that four day deal where she goes four days without headaches and then go through the tests again?
COACH BLUDER: I can’t remember the exact amount of days, but it’s something like that where they have to have no symptoms and then they have to pass a series of tests in order to be cleared to play. If those symptoms come back like they did with Virginia, then we’re back to square one.
Q. That has to be hard for her to go through.
COACH BLUDER: It’s been a tough situation for her because she hasn’t been able to get the repetitions in practice. Also, it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating not being able to be on the floor. It’s frustrating for us too because we know what a good talent she is.
Q. Is she doing any conditioning like riding the bike?
COACH BLUDER: Nothing. She might be the X factor for the Big Ten tournament though. We’ll come in with a surprise secret weapon.
Q. Theairra’s getting a lot of good minutes off the bench recently. Is she at a point where you might consider starting her or giving her more minutes?
COACH BLUDER: She had 12 or 13 minutes last game, so she’s playing a significant role for us right now. I think she’s getting more and more confident every game. I don’t know if you noticed the last game, the nerves get to her, she gets sick. She comes in, plays well. We have to get ahold of that before we advance her role. I don’t think I need to throw anything new at her right now. I think she’s doing a good job in the role that she’s in. And she understands the value of that role too.
Q. Do you see maybe an extra hop in the step of the players at practice? Do you guys talk about the streak? Is that something that kind of happens and they go one game at a time?
COACH BLUDER: We don’t dwell on it. It’s something we get excited about, then after the game, it’s over and we get ready for the next opponent. So it’s something we celebrate after the game, but it’s kind of over then. I think anytime you’re winning games, there is an extra hop in your players’ step. I think that coaches have to do their best job when things aren’t going well. I think their job becomes easier when things are going well. So is it easier to get them motivated and excited to come to practice right now? Certainly.
Q. Must help going into a two-game road trip as well?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, we only have one remaining home game, and that’s going to be an emotional game because it’s our senior sendoff game. But going on the road is never easy. But also knowing that we’ve won two-straight road games definitely puts us in a better mind frame going to play at Michigan.
Q. Theairra took a charge on Sunday. Is that something she might not have done earlier in the year but now she’s playing without even thinking about it?
COACH BLUDER: I completely agree with you. That is not something we’d see Theairra do at the beginning of the year step up and accept the contact. I think she would have shied away from that. So I think that is a huge step in Theairra’s development.
Q. Is Kelly just in a shooting slump right now? Anything physically going on?
COACH BLUDER: No, nothing physical with Kelly. Kelly’s a work horse. She’s the energizer bunny. That kid can play more minutes and not look tired than anybody I’ve probably ever coached. But she’s not shooting the ball as well as she did at the beginning of the year. In fact, today we’re putting together clips of what she did at the beginning of the year, all the three point shots she made. Want to show it to her tomorrow, if we can get it done in time. Just because Kelly is such an analytical person, if she sees all the shots she made early, she might even pick up on something that we don’t see with her shot. Sometimes just seeing yourself being successful helps.
But Kelly, even though she’s not maybe shooting the ball as well as she did at the beginning of the year, she’s doing so many important things for us. Defensively people don’t see a lot of times, because she’s not real flashy, they don’t see the things that she does for us defensively. Rebounding, she’s rebounding at a better rate right now than she has in her entire career. In Big Ten play, she’s averaging 7 plus rebounds a game. She’s never done that in her career. So I love the things that Kelly’s bringing to our team. She’s strong, she’s got good height, but I’d love it for her and for us if she’d put down a few more of those threes.
Q. Did you think there was, in putting that together, do you think it was a mechanical thing going on with her shot, or is it mostly just reinforcement of her making good shots?
COACH BLUDER: I think it’s more reinforcement of here you are making good shots.
Q. You talked about Melissa not trying to force her game. That’s a lot of maturity for a freshman to come off a 20 point game and only get seven, but she’s not just throwing them up?
COACH BLUDER: Absolutely. It’s not like we’re expecting her to come out and have 20 every game. But that is the case with everybody on our team. The last game we had five people in double figures. I loved that. But I don’t care who it is. Two of those people in double figures were the people off the bench. I think that’s part of the beauty of our offense is that we can get scoring from a lot of different places. Maybe Sam one game, maybe Melissa another game, it may be Morgan or Kamille. I just want our team to understand, and I think they’ve really got this now, is that what a good shot is. Understanding we want to work our offense for good shots and that our percentages go up when we’re taking good shots. So don’t force things.
Wait for the good shots. We call them the “voila” moments.