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Iowa showing progress in Big Ten play

BY JACOB SHEYKO | JANUARY 27, 2014 5:00 AM

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In the Iowa women’s basketball’s 84-75 win over Indiana, the Hawkeyes finally got their revenge, something that was a little over three weeks in the making.

Earlier this season, Indiana took Iowa by surprise and dealt the Hawkeyes their first loss of the Big Ten season. But when the two teams lined up for a second matchup, it was a different story.

With Indiana no longer running under Iowa’s radar, the Hawkeyes controlled the game from the tip and evened the head-to-head record between the two teams this season.  

But more important than the result of the game is how the Hawkeyes played. If head coach Lisa Bluder is looking for her team to finish the season playing their best, then the Hawks are certainly on the right track, something that can mostly be attributed to the new starting five, which includes Ally Disterhoft in place of Kali Peschel.

“It makes us so hard to guard because there is nobody they can help off of; there is nobody they can sag off of,” Bluder said. “I think when you have five weapons like that, our offense flows so much better.”

After opening the Big Ten season with two-straight losses to Indiana and Penn State, the Hawkeyes have become relatively consistent. As a result, they have won four of their last five conference games.

One of the new lineup’s biggest effects has been the way the Hawkeyes have jumped out of the gate.
At the start of the Big Ten season, the Hawkeyes sluggish starts were one of their biggest weaknesses. But that no longer appears to be the case. In their last two games, the Hawkeyes have jumped out to double-digit leads in the first seven minutes of play.

“I think we’ve just focused on starting off stronger and starting faster,” junior Bethany Doolittle said. “It’s a strength of ours when we do so, and it helps the rest of our game.”

Whether this is a direct result of the new starting lineup is yet to be seen, but no one can deny the offensive firepower of the Hawkeyes when their starters are on the floor.

The key word for this lineup is balance. The Hawkeyes have extremely balanced scoring amongst their starters. All five of them average double-digits in points and excluding Melissa Dixon, all of them shoot higher than 45 percent from the field.

This is possible because of Iowa’s floor spacing. By playing four players who can all consistently hit 3-pointers, the Hawkeyes spacing has led to open driving lanes and easier opportunities at the rim.

But despite this offensive power, senior Theairra Taylor said the Hawks’ offensive success starts on the other end of the floor.

“We’re starting to notice that our defense leads to our offense, and we get to push a lot more,” she said. “And that’s fun for everybody.”

It seems hard to believe that just over a week ago, Bluder was expressing her discontent with her team, one that had just lost by 16 points on their home floor. But with a new starting lineup, that team from just over a week ago feels like a distant memory.

“I wasn't a pleasant person to be around in practice for a couple of days,” Bluder said. “And they responded well to that. They took it, and they moved on.”


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