Hawkeyes eye Sweet 16

BY MATT CABEL | MARCH 25, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s basketball team wants to boldly go where head coach Lisa Bluder has never taken it before: an appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

No. 3-seeded Louisville stands in the Hawks’ way.

“It’s something that has eluded me personally,” Bluder said. “… It’s something that our team would really like to have the opportunity to claim that they did. They’ve talked about it, but we know it’s a very difficult task. It’s a very difficult thing to get to the final 16 teams in the country.”

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Both teams go into today’s 8:30 p.m. second-round matchup coming off blowout wins: Iowa won over Marist, 87-65, Louisville by an 88-42 clinic over Idaho.

The Cardinals are playing with a chip on their shoulder after only losing four games in the regular seasons and being selected as a No. 3 seed. The Hawkeyes are playing for senior Theiarra Taylor, who wants to cut down some nets before her playing days are over — and also believes this is the year to do it.

“This is the perfect team to do so [with],” Taylor said about moving on to Louisville’s home court for the Sweet 16. “We’ve been so close, gotten to this mark so many times. Frankly, we’re sick of doing it. We’re going to go out and give it our best shot.”

One of the biggest challenges the Cardinals present is guard Shoni Schimmel, who is very similar to Sam Logic in statistical areas but plays a different role on the team. She had performance reminiscent of every one of Logic’s on Sunday with a 10-point, 11-rebound, 5-assist performance.

“She’s been around,” Bluder said. “She’s played in the national championship game. She’s incredibly experienced. She’s physical; she’s strong. Sometimes, Sam can out-physical, out-muscle, or out-grit people. But this is a pretty unbelievable matchup right here between these two guards, because they emulate each other quite a bit.”

Logic thinks of Schimmel as more similar to Rachel Banham, Maggie Lucas, and other guards from around the Big Ten. The only similar things she saw came in terms of energy.

“She brings a lot of energy to her team,” Logic said. “She gets excited for her team, from what I’ve seen … she loves playing, and you can tell that just from watching her in any game.”

Louisville head coach Jeff Walz was quick to praise Logic, a first-team All Big Ten selection, in his press conference Monday.

“Samantha Logic is just a very heady basketball player, understands the game, and does a fantastic job of getting her team organized,” Walz said. “Very impressed with her at time-outs, free throws, how she’s constantly coaching.  She’s out there getting everyone involved.  I was really impressed with her.”

A common message around the Hawkeyes’ locker room is they want the season to continue and to defend the parquet floor of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Logic said that advancing would be “huge.” It’s the last chance for Taylor.

There isn’t another postseason tournament awaiting — it’s win or see the off-season, and the senior said she wants to “get past this [the round of 32] hump.”

“The last couple years, we’ve lost this game, and that’s frustrating,” Taylor said. “We want to cut down some nets — we want to cut down our own nets.”

NCAA Tournament: No. 3 Louisville vs. No. 6 Iowa
Where: Carver-Hawkeye
Time: 8:30 p.m. CDT
Where to watch: ESPN 2

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