Don't Worry, Be Scrappy

Jan. 18, 2016

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By DARREN MILLER
hawkeyesports.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Bobby McFerrin didn’t write his chart-topping song with the University of Iowa women’s basketball team in mind, but a paraphrased lyric from Don’t Worry, Be Happy could do wonders for the Hawkeyes.

“In every game you have some trouble, when you worry you make it double. Don’t worry, be scrappy.” A worry-free Iowa team (13-5 overall, 3-3 Big Ten) hosts Penn State (6-11, 1-5) on Wednesday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a 7 p.m. (CT) tip.

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The Hawkeyes average 18.2 turnovers through the first six league games while post players Chase Coley and Megan Gustafson have combined to shoot nearly 52 percent from the field. When miscues begin to pile up, UI head coach Lisa Bluder said the Hawkeyes become tentative and don’t attempt to get the ball in the paint.

“We’re almost scared of turning the ball over and scared of making the pass,” Bluder said Monday at a news conference in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “We can’t fear that, you have to step up and do it. If we have a few turnovers –we don’t want those — but at the same time, if you are scared of passing the ball, you are probably thinking you’re going to turn the ball over and that’s what is going to happen. It has made us a little gun shy.”

There is another ingredient that could strengthen the Hawkeye inside production. In games last week against Wisconsin and Michigan State, Iowa combined for 16 3-point field goals. Senior captain Kali Peschel was 5-for-8 from beyond the arc.

“We’re almost scared of turning the ball over and scared of making the pass. We can’t fear that, you have to step up and do it. If we have a few turnovers –we don’t want those — but at the same time, if you are scared of passing the ball, you are probably thinking you’re going to turn the ball over and that’s what is going to happen. It has made us a little gun shy.”
Lisa Bluder
UI basketball coach

“Our best offense in the past has been inside-out shots,” Peschel said. “Why we are going away from what is giving us those (inside) points is beyond us. We’re focusing on continuing to look at them and hammering them in there.”

The Hawkeyes concluded a five-game, 13-day stretch that produced a 2-3 record. Iowa led by 17 points before losing, 82-75 at Michigan and led by 16 before losing, 80-73, at Michigan State. Bluder said that when an opponent makes a run, the Hawkeyes need to dig their heels in and make defensive stops.

Bluder also cautioned her team from taking Penn State lightly, despite the fact the Nittany Lions enter the game with five straight losses.

“They are still a great team with talent, height, and speed.” Bluder said. “Don’t be deceived by their record.”

The same could be said about Iowa, which has played the 21st-toughest schedule in the country.

“We have battled. I know we’re 3-3 but look at the opponents we have played and our schedule strength,” Bluder said. “That is nothing to be ashamed of with a young basketball team. I think we can do great things and I believe we will end the Big Ten season on a positive note.”

Freshman guard Tania Davis is coming off what Bluder called a “tremendous” performance against Michigan State. Davis, a native of Grand Blanc, Michigan, scored 16 points and was 4-of-5 from 3-point range, with six rebounds, and five assists against the Spartans.

“I had motivation to go out there and play as hard as I could and try to pick up a win in front of my family and friends in my home state,” Davis said. “To go out and try to knock off Michigan State on its home court in front of my family and friends was all the motivation I needed.”

“She is capable and hopefully this will give her great confidence with this week’s games,” Bluder said. “You are starting to see what Tania is capable of doing.”

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