Bluder’s Bunch hosts Minnesota tonight


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Prior to hitting the court before each game, the Iowa women’s basketball team focuses on one thing: Going 1-0.

And lately, taking things one game at a time has certainly paid off.

After starting the new calendar year losing four-straight Big Ten contests, Iowa has gone “1-0” six times in its last seven games.

The Hawkeyes (14-11, 7-7) plan to continue that approach when they play Minnesota (12-13, 5-9) at 6:30 p.m. today in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

A 72-69 overtime loss to the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis on Jan. 3 was the pothole that caused the Hawkeyes to bottom out.

Iowa went on to lose its next three games. That stretch included 17- and 21-point losses at Michigan and at Purdue, the first and third largest margins of defeat all season.

Now, however, the Hawkeyes are playing their best basketball — just in time for their second meeting with Minnesota. Fueled by a bevy of positive personalities, a one-game-at-a-time mentality has been the key to the team’s turn around.

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At her Wednesday press conference, Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said her players have been a great group of women to coach. She said she probably sounds like a broken record talking about it, “but it really is true.”

“I’m sure that probably is a reflection of why were winning now as well,” Bluder said. “They enjoy being at practice. They enjoy being around each other. They’re very coachable. All of those things make our jobs as coaches a lot easier.”

Sophomore Kamille Wahlin gives the same level of praise to Bluder and her assistants. The starting point guard said the coaching staff has done an outstanding job and has been patient from the beginning.

When the team endured its greatest struggles, the coaches continued to teach the players every day, through film and on the court.

Most importantly, Wahlin said, the coaches never gave up on them.

“They worked harder, and that kind of rubbed off on us,” she said. “These coaches aren’t giving up on us. They want us to get better. They believe in us. That really helped us get to the point of where we’re playing now.”

The Hawkeyes are obviously flights above the position they were in just over a month ago — tied for last place in the Big Ten — but Wahlin and her teammates seem oblivious to exactly how well they are doing.

Junior guard Kachine Alexander was surprised when reporters told her Iowa sat in fifth place in the conference.

“Oh. That’s a big jump,” she said. “If you hadn’t told me, I would have no idea.”

But Bluder doesn’t mind that her players could care less about standings or projecting where they will play in the postseason. Instead, the squad is much more excited about getting another shot at Minnesota rather than moving up in the conference standings.

“It seems like forever ago,” Wahlin said. “It’s a game that we could have gotten, so you don’t really forget it.”

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