Hawks happy to play the underdog


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Iowa women’s head basketball coach Lisa Bluder and her team aren’t exactly used to playing the underdog role. 

After all, the Hawkeyes spent much of the season ranked among the top-20 teams in the country, and they boast one of the most potent offenses in the Big Ten as well as the NCAA. 

This weekend, however, the Hawks are in the company of some of the nation’s elite squads, including 2012 national champion Baylor, which they face today. 

Playing as the underdog for the first time in quite a while, the Hawks couldn’t be happier for the opportunity to pull off a major upset. 

“We know we’re coming in as the underdog, but my team kind of likes that,” Bluder said. “We’re kind of the last ones to the party because the other three schools are used to being in this environment every year.” 

The Hawks are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1996, with this being Bluder’s first trip as the Hawkeye head coach. 

“[The other three coaches] are used to being here and actually have all won a national title except for me,” Bluder said. “So everybody should be for the Hawkeyes, kind of the low man on the totem pole here with the other coaches.” 

The Hawks capped off a historic season at home this season last weekend; the team beat American and Miami last weekend to finish their home slate 18-0.

Now, Iowa will face its toughest challenge of the year away from the friendly confines of its home court and most of their fans. 

The Black and Gold deserve to be alive this, but it’s up to the team to show that the underdog tag is one they are capable of shedding. 

“I think from the beginning of the year, we felt like getting here was something we should be at both talent-wise and experience-wise,” senior Sam Logic said. “We had a lot of good games to put ourselves in a good position, seeding-wise.”

And while it’s no secret that a Sweet 16 berth was a goal the Hawks have had all season, Bluder and her team are far from satisfied.  

“Too often, you see teams set goals, and when they reach them, it’s like, ‘Well, it’s over now,’ ” Bluder said. “We did not want that to happen. We believe we can go further, and on Monday, we quickly reset our goals and set our sights on moving on.”

Standing in the way of those goals?  Baylor, a team that does just about everything well and one that some experts are picking as the odds-on favorite to win it all in Tampa on April 7. 

“We know that their transition offense is extremely good and that they like to get out and push the ball,” Bluder said. “Their rebounding at both ends of the floor is impressive as well.”

Undaunted, the Hawkeyes still have confidence in their game plan and couldn’t be more eager to prove the skeptics wrong. 

“We’re more than capable, and I think we’re just excited to get out there and show people what we can do at this level,” senior Bethany Doolittle said.

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