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Bluder: Hawkeyes need focus against Gophers

[ 0 ] January 7, 2014 |

Unfamiliar territory.

That’s where the Iowa women’s basketball team sits after the first two games of Big Ten Conference play.

The Hawkeyes have never started 0-3 in the Big Ten under coach Lisa Bluder. That could happen Wednesday against Minnesota at Carver-Hawkeye Arena after Iowa fell to Indiana 86-84 on Jan. 2 and 87-71 on Sunday.

But to even start 0-2 is a rarity for Bluder’s bunch.

In 2010-11, Iowa started 0-2 in the conference but then won two in a row. After another lull later that same season, the Hawkeyes rattled off five consecutive wins heading into the postseason. Perhaps history will repeat itself. Minnesota is 11-4 overall and dropped its first game in the Big Ten, an 81-56 thrashing to Michigan State.

For a team that was outrebounded 50-34 and outscored in second-chance points 16-1 on Sunday, there is no time to waste as the Hawkeyes prepare for their tilt with the Gophers.

“We’re not going to be able to change a whole lot in two days,” Bluder said. “Minnesota is a team that runs tons of plays and it’s going to need a lot of focus.”

Samantha Logic leads the Hawkeyes in rebounding. The 5-foot-9 guard pulls down 6.6 rebounds per game, 15th in the Big Ten. Kali Peschel follows at 5.9 rebounds per game, then Ally Disterhoft at 5.6.

Bluder noted the overall rebounding deficit is a main concern moving forward from Sunday’s loss to Penn State to Wednesday’s contest.

“I think we have to get better help-side positions so that people can’t get to the rim as easily against us, as well,” Bluder said. “But we are not going to get bigger, we are not going to get faster, we are not going to get stronger in two days.

“To me, it’s fundamentals. And communication is another thing, and talking, talking all the time, using communication skills.”

Iowa’s 3-point shooting through the first two conference games has been less than formidable, also. Overall, the Black and Gold are second to last in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage and 119th in the nation.

Not good.

The Hawkeyes are shooting 31.9 percent from beyond the arc. They were 6-of-20 on Sunday against Penn State. Melissa Dixon has attempted 144 shots from 3-point range — second in the nation among players that qualify statistically — but is making just 34 percent of those tries.

Her and the team’s shooting must improve to avoid a 0-3 beginning.

“You can’t let (0-3) enter your mind,” Dixon said. “You never go into a game thinking you’re going to lose, so we just have to get back to playing Iowa basketball and rely on our fundamentals. We have to go in to Wednesday with a confident mindset.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball

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