Commentary: Bluder’s Bunch finds its swagger


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In October, the Big Ten released its preseason media and coaches’ picks for women’s basketball. Iowa was predicted to finish fifth in the team standings.

The Hawkeyes opened conference play with a disappointing 54-51 loss at home to Michigan on Dec. 6, 2009. A month later, they fell into a slump, losing of four out of five in the Big Ten.

It looked as though it would be a long and disappointing season.

Starting a miserable 1-6 in conference play, the Hawkeyes never gave up. With a starting lineup comprising two freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior, it was all a learning experience for the future.

Or so many said.

After a while, the more outsiders talk about Iowa’s future, the more the team got sick of it. They were determined to focus on the now and prove how good they could really be.

With a big victory over Michigan State — picked preseason to finish second — it seems as though the Hawkeyes have finally found their swagger.

Standing at 12-11 overall, 5-7 in the conference, Iowa is two games from being .500 in the Big Ten and a game and a half back from tying for third place.

The parity in the Big Ten is simply astonishing.

With a month left before the Big Ten Tournament, the Hawkeyes have won four of their last five games — the lone loss coming against No. 9 Ohio State (and that was only by four points).

Thirty seconds separated a shocking upset from a bitter defeat.

Junior Kachine Alexander said Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder doesn’t have the team focused on the standings because they don’t really prove anything.

Once the Big Ten Tournament rolls around, “anything can happen,” she said.

After all, it’s already been a season in which “anything can happen” has happened.

Injuries. Upsets. Disappointments. This team has seen it all.

Recently, Iowa thumped Purdue, 70-50, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That same Purdue team shocked then-ranked No. 4 Ohio State in West Lafayette, Ind., just a week earlier.

I wonder what this really means for Bluder’s Bunch? Or more importantly, the Big Ten in general?

There are six games remaining (three at home) for Iowa. The Hawkeyes have a chance to make some noise in the conference.

Mathematically speaking, they could finish as high as tied for second and receive a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament in March.

A team with nothing left to lose, the Hawkeyes have the potential to be dangerous.

Alexander said that while no team likely focuses on Iowa and the Hawkeyes’ recent success, that’s how her and her teammates like it.

In fact, she even admitted she probably couldn’t tell you another team’s record if asked.

As long as they’re winning, that’s all that matters for the moment. Looking toward the Big Ten Tournament, Alexander likes to remember one thing that has seemingly been the message all season long.

“Any given day.”

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