Jan. 20, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder spoke with the media Sunday after the Hawkeyes downed Purdue, 62-46, inside of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Lisa Bluder: Well, it just seems like maybe we need to play everybody in the top 25, being 5 0 against top 25 opponents. I thought our defense to start this game was very good. I thought our defensive intensity set the tone, we rebounded well in the first half, and then kind of just hung on in the second half a little bit to win this game.
But a really nice victory. After coming off that loss against Michigan State, it just I can’t express to you how good it feels to get a good victory tonight.
Q. Coach, would you explain the significance of 600? I know you said it was kind of a longevity thing. How does it feel?
Lisa Bluder: Well, I think I told Gary it’s just one more than 599. Here’s what I told the team: Any time that you reach one of these kind of milestones, yes, it means you’ve been around a long time, but it also gives you an opportunity to reflect on the women that you’ve been able to coach, and I have some even from Drake here tonight, and that is really neat. I think about all those kids from St. Ambrose and Drake and here at Iowa, and you just remember all those women that were a part of your life, and that just gives you time to do that.
Again, I’ve always talked about Jan (Jensen) and Jenni (Fitzgerald) and their significance. They’re amazing, that they’ve stuck around for me all this time, and I’m so appreciative of that. And then the other person is really Dave. He has been there through thick and thin every one of these games, and probably most importantly he’s been there for every one of those losses, too, because that’s not always easy. That’s the kind of things you think about.
Q. You talked after the Michigan State game about not being a very confident basketball team. What was the key to getting off to this fast start and being so confident early on?
Lisa Bluder: You know, I think having the confidence of playing at home. Confidence, it comes from within. It’s something that you’ve got to bring yourself. I mean, confidence is something nobody can give you. You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to work hard. You’ve got to change your self talk a lot of times, and I thought we came out as a more aggressive team tonight, which set the tone for our confidence.
Q. You talked about defense (inaudible).
Lisa Bluder: Actually we ran that last year, as well, the half court trapping type of defense, zone defense, and it’s been good for us, just to use it here and there, and I thought it was good tonight. I thought it gave us some really good turnovers.
Q. You said earlier that Kayla had really been making a lot of progress in practice and kind of kicking yourself for not being able to put her in games. How would you describe her performance tonight?
Lisa Bluder: Yeah, she’s worked really hard, and I’m really glad that she took advantage of this opportunity tonight to come out and contribute for us, and the main thing is when a player like Kayla comes in and somebody that’s trying to kind of earn their stripes a little bit, you come in and you don’t do things you can’t do. Don’t try to push and do things that you don’t practice every single day. And I think that was the difference today with Kayla is she didn’t do anything that she hasn’t practiced over and over and over again.
We need Kayla to go to when Morgan needs a breather, gets injured, all those reasons. It’s wonderful for her to come out and have a good game. I think that’s going to do a lot for her confidence here.
Q. What do you think the key was to your defense tonight?
Lisa Bluder: I know KK Houser was under the weather a little bit, and that obviously probably hurt them. But it’s part of the game of basketball, too, is you have to deal with injuries and sicknesses and all those type of things and keep going. I think our team had a tremendous respect for Purdue coming in. Their only two losses were to Notre Dame and UConn coming in.
I just think that our team was very focused defensively, and it’s not like we set out, we’re going to stop this one person. It wasn’t like that. It was basically let’s all improve all of our defense, and it wasn’t like a key on this certain individual or anything like that. I don’t know if I’m answering that.
It was a great crowd, too, which always gives you energy. All the Hawk fans that came out tonight, it was pretty fun.
Q. Why has this team been so successful against top 25 teams?
Lisa Bluder: I don’t know. I don’t know if it gets our attention more. I think our team kind of embraces the underdog role a little bit. I think for some reason, we enjoy being in that role. We’ve done it a lot of times in the past, and so, you know, it’s not like we do anything differently for these opponents or anything, I just think maybe it’s a sharper focus, and we know we can do it. That’s always part of the battle, too, is you know we can compete with top 25 teams.
Q. You called a couple timeouts to slow them down.
Lisa Bluder: Yeah, and I think Melissa had a big three when they got within nine, and that was a big boost. We hadn’t had a basket for a while, and I think to get that basket got the crowd involved, too, and I think that was huge momentum for us.