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Lisa Bluder: I thought this was a really good preseason game for us. Robert Morris was good defensively. They were scrappy, they got up in us, and it was good for us to have that type of pressure early in the year. I thought we responded pretty well with that type of pressure, having only 15 turnovers.
I want to congratulate Melissa (Dixon), went over 1,000 points, became our 32nd woman in the 1,000 point club here at Iowa. She did that in the first half. She shot the ball extremely well from three point range again today.
Kali Peschel, career high today. I’m so happy for Kali because she’s worked extremely hard for this. She has really put her heart and soul into this team over the summer, and it paid off for her today. Not only did she shoot the ball extremely well, 7 for 9, she had a career high 19 points, and she leads us with four offensive rebounds. So I’m really happy for Kali.
And then Sam has a double double today. First of the year, second game, and she already has a double double. When you look at a point guard having a double double, you don’t usually think rebounds and assists. Well, that’s what Sam does for us today. But I thought this was a good win against a very good opponent today.
Q. How did you feel some of the younger members of your team handled the push back from Robert Morris today?
Lisa Bluder: You know, they’re growing. They’re getting better all the time. I thought Christina Buttenham played very well. She scored eight points in there. She was 4 for 6 from the field. She looked like she didn’t try to push things. I think as a freshman sometimes, you get in there and you think, I have to score in order to show my worth, and that’s so wrong from our offense. Our offense is you run the offense, and then all of a sudden you score without thinking about it. It’s a hard lightbulb to turn on when you’re a freshman, and I thought she made a step in the right direction with that today.
Q. Why is this team so hard to sort of shake? They’re obviously a good team, athletic, they’re deeper than I’m sure a lot of people thought.
Lisa Bluder: They have a lot of international players that have good experience, and defensively I just loved the way that they played. I thought they just were right up into us, and again, denying the back door pass, or the passing lanes was really good. He’s done a good job. This team was in the NCAA Tournament last year, so this isn’t one of those early season pushover games. This was a good team.
Q. How important was that last 45 seconds to a minute of the first half? They lost Melissa in transition a couple times.
Lisa Bluder: Got a nice two for one there in that last minute. We found Melissa in the right hand corner for a three point shot, and then we held, and then Sam got to the free throw line, so it was nice that I think our players on the floor did a great job with time management there, and knowing that they needed that quick score in order to get it back for another opportunity to score. Gave us 5 0 in the last minute.
Q. In a situation with a tight game like today, how much does it help to have so much experience in your lineup to fall back on?
Lisa Bluder: Yeah, it does. They had four starters back, too, so they had a lot of experience on their team, as well. But no doubt, when you have the quality of players that we have on the floor, I mean, Sam, four year starter, Melissa is a four year starter, Bethany is a three year starter. That’s a lot of experience out on the floor, so it makes it easier in pressure situations that they’re going to handle it.
Q. Coach, you just went through that Sam, Melissa, Bethany. What does that do when you can get the production then from Kali in a game that’s important?
Lisa Bluder: Well, we love that balance. We like everybody to be involved, and we don’t want it to be just those three. Those three are quality kids, no doubt, but we don’t want it to be just those three. We want it to be five, six in double figures. We love that type of balance. So Kali with her type of game today, that just helps us get to that type of level.
Q. You have a much tougher non conference schedule this year. Was that by design with a more mature team?
Lisa Bluder: Of our 29 games this season, 20 of the games come against a team in postseason play last year, so it is a very challenging schedule. But we did feel like this year we did return a lot of experience, and if there was any year to do it, this was the year to really do it. And then hopefully get one of those top four seeds at the end of the year because now with the change in our NCAA Tournament selection, you have to be a top four seed to get a home site, and we’ve been blessed with a home site the last two years because they’ve been given to us. Now we’ve got to earn it this year, and the only way we’re going to earn it is by beating and playing against quality people.
Q. What’s going on with Ally’s wrist? She’s got something on there. It didn’t look like it bothered her too much.
Lisa Bluder: No, it doesn’t. It’s something that she’s had actually going back to last year where she had some tendonitis and an overuse. You hate to say your kids are in the gym too much, don’t you? But just a little overuse.
Q. You’ve got the Hawkeye Challenge coming up this next weekend, this Friday, Saturday, a potential rematch with Dayton. Talk about that?
Lisa Bluder: Hawkeye Challenge is always special to us. This is one of the longest running women’s basketball tournaments in the country, and we’ve always put on a first class tournament and we’ve always had very good competition in this tournament. Next week is no exception. We’ll be hosting three very good teams, Pepperdine, who we’ll be facing in the first round, UT Martin, who’s been in numerous NCAA tournaments, and then Dayton, who is a top 25 team. Could end up being a match up on Saturday night with Dayton, a rematch of last year’s overtime win, and that was really one of those absolutely down to the wire wins. We both return four starters from that team last year, so that could be quite a battle. We’ll be playing 7:30 Friday and 7:30 Saturday.
Q. You talked about the challenge this week of Friday Sunday. Next week you go back to back. Is that something you think this week helps with?
Lisa Bluder: This week we only had one day to prepare for our opponent, and now we have no days to prepare. We have a shoot around to prepare, and you’ve really got to be careful of your legs. So we’re getting, though, nine and ten people playing significant minutes, and that’s good. We were two minutes shy of having nine people in double figure minutes today. That will help, being able to have that kind of deeper bench when you’re playing back to back games, but again, I think a veteran group can handle that a little bit better because it’s easier for them to make adaptations and changes in the huddle because they know your terminology. We may not have had time to work on it this year, but they know from the past what we mean by that situation. It makes it a little bit easier having a veteran group, but again, they do, as well.