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The Box Score: So far, so good for women's hoops

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | JANUARY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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After its gutsy overtime win against Nebraska on Monday night, the Iowa women’s basketball team has gathered a full head of steam leading up to this weekend’s road trip.

At 7-1 in the conference, the Black and Gold are off to their best start in nearly 20 years, sitting firmly in possession of second in the Big Ten.

A quick peek at the numbers reveals just how Iowa has managed to win so many big games over the past few weeks.

Field-Goal Percentage — 45.4 percent (Second in Big Ten)

Anyone who has watched an Iowa game in the 15 years Lisa Bluder has been at the helm knows the Hawks like to push the pace on offense, using a fast breakout and quick transition game to break a press and create scoring chances in droves.

And while playing with pace does leave the Hawkeyes vulnerable to fast breaks going the other way (they’re third to last in the league in scoring defense at 68.2 points against per game), pretty much every member of the team can shoot the ball with precision if called upon.

Accurate shooting helps Iowa capitalize on as many of these scoring chances as possible, and with 11 different women averaging more than 40 percent from the field, outlasting the other team offensively seems to be Iowa’s greatest asset and main game plan.

Assist/turnover ratio — 1.2 (First in Big Ten)

Bluder constantly stresses a pass-first mentality, and luckily for her, the Hawks seem to have taken that mantra to heart.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have an elite veteran point guard running the offense.

Senior Sam Logic, Iowa’s all time leader in assists, leads the Big Ten in helpers, averaging 7.1 per game.

By running the offense through Logic, Iowa is able to spread around its attack, opening up passing lanes left and right and balancing a lethal offensive attack.

And while the dropoff after Logic is steep (Whitney Jennings comes in second with 2.8 assists/game), every member of the Black and Gold is capable of making smart decisions with the ball when called upon.

Free-throw percentage — 68.3 percent (12th in Big Ten)

It’s somewhat astounding that a team with so many gifted shooters on offense doesn’t fare better from the line.

A sparkling field-goal percentage has been an enormous reason for the team’s success this year; however, many of those wins have come in spite of some poor efforts from Iowa free-throw shooters.

What’s more, it’s a problem that’s easily fixable, at least more easily than others.

With 378 attempts, Iowa has more opportunities than most of the Big Ten teams; however, it has struggled to convert, often in key situations.

The likes of Kali Peschel, Melissa Dixon, Alexa Kastanek, and Ally Disterhoft have all shot better than 75 percent this season, but freshman Jennings and senior Bethany Doolittle, two of Iowa’s most-fouled shooters, shoot well below that mark.

It seems basic, but knocking down big foul shots would probably save the Hawks a lot of headaches and close calls.

The Hawks are not an overly physical team that can go into shut-down mode against any opponent, but it stands to reason that capitalizing more on gift-wrapped opportunities on offense would help alleviate some of the pressure on defense.

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


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