Jan. 11, 2016
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Ally Disterhoft has more fun on a basketball court when her team’s assist total is on the rise.
A junior forward on the University of Iowa women’s basketball team, Disterhoft had a blast earlier this season when the Hawkeyes handed out 24 assists against Western Illinois and 21 versus Drake. The most discouraging part of Sunday’s setback to No. 8 Maryland was when Disterhoft looked at the final statistics and it showed Iowa with four players combining for eight assists.
“It’s not fun when we’re not passing the ball and it’s not fun to play when we’re giving up too many points on defense,” Disterhoft said. “We have to make an effort to fix those things and we can do that.”
The Hawkeyes (12-4 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) face Wisconsin (6-8, 2-2) on Wednesday at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CT). It will be Game 4 in a stretch of six conference games within 17 days.
Making the schedule tighter is that BTN moved Iowa’s game against Rutgers from Jan. 3 to Jan. 4 and its game at Michigan State from Jan. 17 to Jan. 16. That means Iowa’s first five league games are in a stretch of 12 days with three of them on the road. A veteran group would have a better time handling that work load; the Hawkeyes start a senior, two juniors, and two sophomores.
“Low assists (eight), high turnovers (16), not shooting the ball well (38 percent from the field). I didn’t feel we had the fight that we had against Rutgers on (Jan. 4). You may not win every game, but you can fight in every game. I don’t know if we fought to the best of our ability (Jan. 10). That is what is frustrating to us.”
UI basketball coach
The brutal early streak means less time in the practice gym for the Hawkeyes. Time is more valuable when considering that five of Iowa’s eight players who logged at least 16 minutes against Maryland are freshmen or sophomores.
“We are practicing less than we would like to,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We have had to spend less time working on us because we have to get ready for that next scout. We haven’t been able to work on our problem areas. We’re a young team that needs constant reminders on how to execute and how to do things. We have so much to learn and our learning curve is bigger.”
There is no shame in falling to the eighth-rated team in the nation; Maryland was a Final Four team in 2015. It is the manner of defeat that didn’t sit well with Bluder.
“Low assists (eight), high turnovers (16), not shooting the ball well (38 percent from the field),” she said. “I didn’t feel we had the fight that we had against Rutgers on (Jan. 4). You may not win every game, but you can fight in every game. I don’t know if we fought to the best of our ability (Jan. 10). That is what is frustrating to us.”
National exposure is nice, but Bluder’s wish list includes a bunch of fresh Hawkeyes being televised to potential recruits.
“TV is good,” Bluder said. “The game against Rutgers was great (a 69-65 win by Iowa), but (Jan. 10) we’re on national television and we don’t play to our potential (a 76-56 loss to the Terrapins). Is that great? You want people to see your best effort. Is that great if they aren’t seeing you at your very best?”
The Hawkeyes board a bus for Wisconsin on Tuesday. Most have tired legs and sore arms. Some have taken a recent elbow or two to the nose. Rest, ice, and massages can help ease soreness, but nothing compares to victory.
“We need to get back on the winning trail and feel good about ourselves again,” Bluder said.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for UI freshman center Megan Gustafson, who is from Port Wing, Wisconsin. In three games last week, Gustafson averaged 23 minutes, 11.3 points, and six rebounds a game.
“We’re a lot more excited to get those two losses out of the way and get a good win,” Gustafson said.