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Hawkeyes hope to host NCAA tourney, avoid foul trouble

BY KYLE MANN | MARCH 12, 2015 5:00 AM

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With more than a week remaining before the women’s NCAA Tournament begins, Lisa Bluder and the Hawkeyes have plenty of time to shed the memory of being upset by Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

Hawkeyes hope to host tournament games

Coach Lisa Bluder said during the season’s opening press conference that her goals were to get a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament and finish in the top 16 for the ability to host NCAA Tournament games. With the former accomplished, the latter appears to be on its way.

The Hawkeyes are ranked No. 17 in the AP poll and are not far away in the coaches’ poll, in which they are currently ranked No. 15. Their trump card, they hope, is the No. 9 RPI they possess.

“Everything points to us being home for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament,” Bluder said. “And there’s nothing better than playing in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.”

Bluder’s statement has never been truer — this Iowa team was the first in program history to go 16-0 at home. If it plays host in its opening games, Iowa will enjoy a staggering home-court advantage.

“We’re optimistic — cautiously, probably —right now,” Bluder said. “Until you see your name come up as a host on Monday night, you’re in that waiting game, but we are pretty optimistic.”

Staying out of foul trouble

One of the most observable aspects of Iowa’s games against Nebraska and Ohio State was the emphasis on getting the ball inside. Against both teams, the Hawkeyes came out and fed the ball to Bethany Doolittle in the post and let her use her scoring ability to find easy baskets early.

Unsurprisingly, the stretches when Iowa struggled coincided with stretches when Doolittle was on the bench with foul trouble.

“Foul trouble is definitely something I’ve had to deal with this year a lot,” Doolittle said. “Going into the NCAA Tournament, it’s obviously going to be a little bit more physical, and people are going to try to muscle their way through a little more, so I’m going to try to stay straight up as much as possible and use anticipation instead of swinging my hands or something like that.”

Logic ready to bounce back

Iowa and Ohio State played a close game, trading leads throughout both halves and ultimately requiring overtime to decide a victor. In that overtime, however, the Hawkeyes were without star point guard Sam Logic, who fouled out with 17 seconds remaining in regulation.

But is the senior dwelling on that memory heading to the NCAA Tournament?

“I don’t think too much about that,” she said. “Every single game, I try to have the same mindset. Obviously, I wanted to be out there with my team in overtime, but I still had a whole bunch of confidence in them.”

Follow @KyleFMann for news, updates, and analysis of the Iowa women’s basketball team.


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