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No matter the score, Iowa tries to improve

BY JACOB SHEYKO | NOVEMBER 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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Fans of the Iowa women’s basketball team probably wish that every game this season could be as dramatic as the Hawkeyes’ Nov. 10 defeat of No. 23 Dayton. But that’s not how most teams’ schedules work out.

The Hawkeyes are now in the portion of their schedule that pits them against lower-skilled teams. But this doesn’t mean that these games don’t serve a purpose.

For a team such as Iowa — one that still has many questions surrounding it — these games can provide head coach Lisa Bluder with instances in which she may try out different lineups or gauge an aspect of her team that needs work on.

This was the instance in the Hawks’ Wednesday’s game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and may be the case when the Hawkeyes take on Stony Brook on Nov. 17 in Carver-Hawkeye.

“With games like this, we just need to use them to get better as a team,” guard Melissa Dixon said following the Hawkeyes 76-38 win over the Golden Lions. “Just to work on the things we need to improve on.”

One of the biggest questions this season for the Hawkeyes was not only who would play the power forward but also how the Hawkeyes would perform with their limited size.

Excluding junior Bethany Doolittle, the Hawkeyes tallest active player is Kali Peschel, who stands at 6- 1.

On an individual level, Peschel has been great on the boards. Through three games, the native of Sauk Centre, Minn., has averaged 10 rebounds per game. But as a team, even though the Hawkeyes have outrebounded opponents by approximately 2 per game, they have given up 14 offensive rebounds per game.

These are aspects that the Hawkeyes can work on when they’re up big on opponents.

For instance, in Iowa’s matchup with Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Bluder was able to play with a lineup that included sophomore Claire Till at center. This playing time is crucial because Till has been designated as the backup center for the Hawkeyes.

She finished the game with a team-high 12 rebounds.

“It’s nice to see her coming off the bench and getting double rebound numbers,” Bluder said. “That was very good.”

Luckily for the Hawkeyes, Doolittle’s presence on the floor has been established early. And with her moving back to her “natural” position at center, she has been in the paint more than she was last season.

“I think I’m coming back into my more natural position this year at center,” Doolittle said. “It’s worked really well, just getting the ball low. And I got a lot of shots from my teammates.”

The matchup with Stony Brook may also have an extra incentive for the Hawkeyes to play well: It will be Iowa’s last home game until Dec. 5, when the Hawkeyes take on Syracuse.

The competition also ramps up following this game, including matchups next week with No. 17 Colorado and Northern Iowa.

“This is important because this is the last time we’re in Carver Hawkeye Arena for a while.  Our next five games will be away from home,” Bluder said. “So I think it’s really important that we have a good win on Sunday against Stony Brook.”


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