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Hawkeye offense stays hot

BY KYLE MANN | NOVEMBER 21, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s basketball team will host the Hawkeye Challenge this weekend, and it is scheduled to tip off with Pepperdine at 7:30 p.m. today and again against a play-in winner at the same time on Saturday.

In an event that produced some early season fireworks for the Hawkeyes last season, here’s what to watch for:

Will Lisa Bluder’s offense continue to effortlessly operate like clockwork?

In the team’s exhibition game versus St. Ambrose, it scored saw 12 players combine to score a mind-blowing 119 points. In the regular season opener against South Carolina-Upstate, six players scored in double figures, and the team shot 56-percent from the floor and 50-percent from beyond the arc en route to a program-record 107 points. Sunday’s game with Robert Morris finally saw the team stumble briefly, but recover to shoot 54.5-percent in the second half on the way to an 85-67 victory.

It’s never been a secret that even with snow on the ground, Bluder’s team would make it rain. But the pace and efficiency with which her team has performed is nothing short of, one would think, unsustainable.

The Hawkeyes have hovered around 50 percent from both the floor and the 3-point line, which illustrates that if her players have been open, they aren’t missing. Furthermore, in the two regular-season games, they average 24 assists on 33 made field goals, which bodes well for their chances of continuing to find those open shots.

How will the freshmen be used as meaningful games start up?

Whitney Jennings has given Bluder flashes of potential during the off-season and early in the preseason. The 5-5 reigning Indiana Miss Basketball has impressed her coach with skills as a ball handler, as a shooter, and generally as a spark plug off the bench.

After starting in the season’s first game, in which she had 7 points and 5 assists, Jennings came off the bench versus Robert Morris and provided a significant jolt of energy in the second unit.

The other freshmen have seen playing time as well. Most specifically, it will be interesting to monitor the role of Chase Coley as the season progresses. At 6-3, Coley provides size and defense to a team that is lacking in those two areas.

Conveniently, along with her rim-protecting and rebounding, Coley has the athleticism to run the floor with Bluder’s fast-paced system and appears to have potential to become a two-way player sooner rather than later.

Will Iowa get a rematch with Dayton?

After playing Pepperdine today, the Hawkeyes will face the winner of a game between Tennessee-Martin and Dayton to decide who plays for the title on Saturday.

In the Hawkeye Challenge last season, Iowa and the Flyers took part in a barnburner, with the Hawkeyes ultimately pulling out what proved to be one of the best games of the season. Iowa defeated the then-No. 14 Flyers, 97-93 in overtime.


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