By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Lisa Bluder is looking for a smoother, better executed game Thursday when her University of Iowa women’s basketball team puts its 22-game Carver-Hawkeye Arena winning streak on the line against North Alabama. Tip-off is 6:30 p.m. (CT).
The Hawkeyes (1-0) are coming off an 85-53 win over Florida Atlantic on Nov. 7. The lengthy game featured 53 fouls and 49 turnovers.
“I want to see improvement in our fundamentals and execution,” Bluder said Monday during a news conference in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “The last game, there were so many fouls called that there was no tempo or flow to the game.”
Scouting North Alabama
The Lions, from Florence, Alabama, play in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Last season, they won 21 games, including a 74-71 win at Vanderbilt.
With five returning starters (and nine letterwinners), North Alabama is off to a 2-0 start with a 128-26 win over Virginia University-Lynchburg and an 86-60 win over Mississippi Valley State.
“Sometimes you look at directional schools and think, oh, they’re going to be an easy W, and it is not the case with North Alabama,” Bluder said. “They have seen everything, they are used to playing together, they have that unspoken chemistry among them.”
Not Used to a Week Off
Typically, the basketball schedule includes two or three games a week in November. The Hawkeyes are itching to get back on the court after a seven-day layoff between their first two games.
“We’re ready to get back on the court; this time of year it is a little unusual to have a week off between games,” Bluder said. “Now we’re going to start into that — the avalanche begins so to speak.”
Iowa will play Thursday-Sunday-Wednesday before heading to the Puerto Rico Clasico from Nov. 27-20 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Hawkeyes didn’t receive much resistance during a 98-53 exhibition win over Winona State on Nov. 3. They had a stiffer challenge against Florida Atlantic four days later.
Bluder was encouraged by what she saw from some of the freshmen.
“Getting those younger players playing time and getting them used to being under the spotlights.” Bluder said. “I feel (freshman guard) Gabbie (Marshall) played well, (freshman guard) Kate (Martin) had times she played well and looked comfortable. I thought (freshman forward) McKenna (Warnock) went in — she had 10 rebounds in 15 minutes. I loved the way she attacked the glass. It was mostly the freshmen getting comfortable.”
Marshall scored 11 points in 14 minutes, Martin had four rebounds in 18 minutes, and Warnock compiled a double-double in points and rebounds (10-10) in 15 minutes.
The number of fouls and turnovers not only led to a long game against Florida Atlantic, but Bluder said it also affected the way the Hawkeyes controlled the game’s tempo. She wants to change that against North Alabama.
“In my opinion, you have to transition 100 miles an hour in the full court,” Bluder said. “If that doesn’t work, now we’re going to pull the ball out and dissect the defense. That takes more control and not such a fast tempo.”