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Bluder's Bunch to play two games in 18 hours

BY BEN WOLFSON | NOVEMBER 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women's basketball team hopes a week of practice is enough preparation to address rebounding and offense — two areas in which the Hawkeyes struggled in their 65-51 victory over Winona State on Sunday.

They will begin the regular season at 7 p.m. Saturday against Harvard in the 26th-annual Hawkeye Challenge. Butler and UNLV will also compete, and the Hawkeyes will play one of the two on the afternoon of Nov. 13.

Iowa players said they aren't worried about the short turnaround, though.

"We'll be all right; we've been doing a lot of conditioning the past two weeks to get us in game shape," junior Jaime Printy said. "[But] it will be different, because it's our first real game, and there isn't much time to prepare for our second one."

Head coach Lisa Bluder said she was encouraged by this week's practices.

The Hawkeyes scrimmaged against the gray squad — an all-male group of volunteers that works as the scout team — on Thursday.

"I thought today we did an exceptional job in our scrimmage," Bluder said. "We did a great job on the boards against the guys … [but] our offense still isn't quite there. It's always the slower thing to come around because it's timing, and it's reading defenses

"It's a lot harder to play offense and to learn a new offensive system."

Printy — who was Iowa's leading scorer last year with 16.8 points per game — struggled in the exhibition and only scored 6 points on 2-of-10 shooting, including 1-of-6 from 3-point range.

But she smiled when asked if she was concerned about her offense.

"No, not at all," the Marion native said and laughed. "Shooting will come, and other people stepped up. As long as we get the win, I don't really care."

Iowa faces a Harvard team that returns 10 letterwinners from last season; the Crimson finished second in the Ivy League with an 18-10 record.

Harvard returns three of last year's top four scorers, including senior point guard Brogan Berry. She averaged 13.9 points per game last year.

"Their point guard is key," Bluder said. "She's a very good shooter as well as just a tremendous floor general — but she's also a scoring floor general."

Bluder said she tries to schedule "good caliber" teams for the Hawkeye Challenge and selects schools from all around the country so they have an excuse to come in and play two games in a weekend instead of just one.

The caliber of teams Iowa plays this weekend should be beneficial as the season goes on, according to junior center Morgan Johnson.

"Playing good teams outside of the Big Ten will make us a better team and will help us qualify for the NCAA Tournament," she said. "That's what our goal is: To do well in that tournament, so it's good we get a hard experience in the beginning."


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