Iowa women ready to find identity in Big Ten basketball tournament

BY MATT CABEL | MARCH 07, 2013 5:00 AM

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For the second time in five days, the Iowa women’s basketball team will play the Northwestern Wildcats. They’ll suit up in the Sears Center, where the stakes will be a bit higher.

It’s Big Ten Tournament time, and for the Hawkeyes to live up to expectations, they need to pick up right where they left off after their 62-45 victory on March 2 over the Wildcats.

“Here we are again,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “It’s kind of ironic. Eleven [other] teams you could be playing in the conference and playing the same team back to back in the conference tournament.”

Bluder is excited about the change in venue — the tournament will be hosted at the Sears Center Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

“I told the team the last time we changed venue and went to Grand Rapids, we came home with the trophy,” Bluder said. “So why not do it again?”

After earning a spot in the Top-25 rankings in Feb., the team went on a five-game losing skid, including a 67-65 heartbreaker to the Wildcats Feb. 3. The squad managed to finish the season on a two game win streak and won three of their last four.

“Losing five in a row is definitely hard, especially midseason in conference play,” senior Jaime Printy said. “But we did a good job of getting out of that with a huge win at Purdue. And then winning these last two games when we knew we needed to, and we had that pressure on us, was great for our team.”

If the team defeats the Wildcats today, a third matchup with Nebraska awaits them. The team is 0-5 in conference and postseason play against the Huskers since they joined the conference in 2011.

Iowa was torched by the now No. 21 Huskers in its last outing, losing 66-46 on Feb. 24 in Lincoln. Nebraska is one of just two ranked teams in the Big Ten, with the other being No. 8 Penn State. Iowa fell to the Nittany Lions on Feb. 14, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, 81-69.

Sophomore guard Sam Logic said the team needs to prove what kind of team they’re capable of being, which will start in the tournament.

“We’ve had really good glimpses, and we’ve had a pretty bad streak,” Logic said. “Just being that consistent team that’s in every game — that’s what we’re capable of being. You never go into a game thinking that we can’t stick with a team — just have fun again. I think we got away from that a little bit, just being frustrated.

“We’re back to that now.”

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