March 24, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — In a perfect world, University of Iowa head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder would have more than 60 minutes to relish Sunday’s NCAA First Round victory over Marist. Instead she’s preparing for the reigning NCAA runner-up.
“Last night’s game was enjoyable for us, I wish we could sit around longer and enjoy it,” Bluder said Monday during an NCAA news conference inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “Unfortunately, we got to enjoy it for about an hour and then all thoughts shifted to Louisville.”
The Cardinals bring a 31-4 record into Tuesday’s 8:30 p.m. (CT) NCAA Second Round matchup after posting an 88-42 victory over Idaho in an opening game in Iowa City on Sunday afternoon. Louisville is ranked fourth in both major polls and is a squad that posted winning streaks of eight, 16, and five games during the regular season.
Like many others, Bluder is still trying to figure out how the Cardinals fell to a No. 3 seed.
“They’re feeling good about themselves right now and you should when you perform that well in the first round of an NCAA Tournament. It’s not even just last night that we feel good about. We feel good about the way we’ve been playing the last six weeks to two months. We’ve won seven of our last eight games and have been playing well down this entire stretch.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder
“When you lose four games, and three of them are to the No. 1 team in America (Connecticut), it’s crazy to think of them being a No. 3 seed when they’ve been a top-ranked team all year long,” said Bluder. “We know we have a difficult challenge and have a lot of respect for their program, what they did last year, being national runner-up.
“At the same time, it’s a new year, we have the opportunity to play at home, and we’re going to give them our best shot.”
Louisville has three players averaging in double figures and a total of six averaging at least 7.9 points. Guard Shoni Schimmel, a Naismith Award semifinalist, leads the team with a 16.8 average to go along with 129 assists and 108 3-point field goals.
“They’re a very talented team, balanced in scoring, and great on the boards,” said freshman Ally Disterhoft. “We’re going to have to focus on playing Iowa basketball, sticking to our fundamentals, what we know how to do and coming out and executing.”
Bluder says the Hawkeyes are a confident team after shooting a season-high 57.1 percent in an 87-65 victory over Marist — a mindset she has seen out of her team for the last two months.
“They’re feeling good about themselves right now and you should when you perform that well in the first round of an NCAA Tournament,” said Bluder. “It’s not even just last night that we feel good about. We feel good about the way we’ve been playing the last six weeks to two months. We’ve won seven of our last eight games and have been playing well down this entire stretch.”
Iowa senior Theairra Taylor has been down this path before, having been part of five Hawkeye NCAA Tournament teams, including three that have advanced to the second round. She’s ready to lead Iowa to the next step.
“I feel like this is the perfect team to do so,” said Taylor, the Hawkeyes’ lone senior. “We’ve been so close, gotten to this mark so many times. Frankly, we’re sick of doing it. We’re going to go out and give it our best shot.”
Tuesday’s game will be televised on ESPN2 with Holly Rowe and Brenda VanLengen on the call. Tickets are available at hawkeyesports.com.