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Women’s Big Ten media day notebook

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | OCTOBER 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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ROSEMONT, Illinois — Media day for Big Ten Women’s basketball season marked the unofficial start to the season Thursday.

Conference title up for grabs

Big Ten newcomer Maryland was tabbed as the favorite to win it all coming out of preseason by members of the media, and while the Terrapins are deep up and down the lineup, the Big Ten certainly has no shortage of talented squads that can compete.

It’s a tough conference that has only continued to get tougher this upcoming season. 

“You want to be the best, and you want to play in the best conference,” Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp said. “Anytime you add two powerhouse teams to your conference like those two, it makes things a lot tougher.”

One of the deepest conferences in the country, the Big Ten featured six teams in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. 

“I was in the old Big East at a time when we had eight or nine tams make the tournament every year,” Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “Now, I feel like the Big Ten has become like that.  You have so many great teams, a lot of who are returning a great group of players.”

Iowa welcomes pressure

The Hawkeyes will face as much pressure as any other this year. A run to the Big Ten Tournament championship as well as a berth in the NCAA Tournament has the Black and Gold riding some high expectations coming into the season.

And while the increased expectations might scare some coaches away, Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder has welcomed it with open arms.

“We have a lot of reasons to be optimistic going into this season,” she said. “With the group that we have returning, especially Sam Logic, we’re really excited to start the season and get rolling as soon as we can.”

Logic, who helped lead the Hawks to 27 wins last season, begins her senior campaign as a preseason All-Big Ten honoree, and while the personnel accolades are nice, Bluder knows that her captain always puts the team first.

“There’s the basketball aspect to her that’s amazing, but she’s such a great leader and has the ability to raise the confidence level of everyone she plays with,” Bluder said. “She just bleeds Black and Gold.”

New schedule, new challenges

A new season in the Big Ten brings with it two new teams, Rutgers and preseason conference favorite Maryland. 

It also brings an increased schedule, with teams across the conference playing 18 Big Ten games instead of the usual 16.

It’s a small change, but one that could potentially have big implications down the stretch.

“It’s definitely something that’s going to be a big change for us coaches,” Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “It kind of compresses the schedule and makes it a little more difficult, especially because you really have to watch you minutes with the kids.”

It may seem miniscule, but just two more games really affects a schedule that most in the Big Ten have been used to for quite some time.

“You really have to preserve legs, because there could be times when you could have two or three games in a week, so it puts a little more pressure on us to make sure were maintain our teams.”

Follow @ryanarod on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s basketball team.


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