Iowa Women’s Basketball Big Ten Preview
The Iowa Hawkeyes are off to a great start in the 2017-18 women’s basketball season. So far the Hawkeyes are 10-1 on the year and have beat some pretty impressive teams and competed with some of the best teams in Women’s College Basketball. Even though Iowa lost 94 to 93 against Florida State, which was their only loss so far this season, Head Coach Lisa Bluder said her team could play with anyone. “We wanted and should have won that game,” Bluder said. “It also let our team have confidence that they can beat anybody,” Bluder continued.
Iowa is not thinking about Big Ten play right now as they have non conference teams to try to beat. The state of Iowa teams which consist of Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake University. Bluder says its always a big deal and something her team would love to accomplish.
Iowa has a lot of returners coming back for the 2017-18 season. The most notable player coming back is Junior Forward Megan Gustafson and Bluder says you can’t find a better post player than Megan Gustafson. “She has embraced her role as a post player,” Bluder said. “You can’t find a post player that just wants to be a post. Most post players want to shoot 3 pointers but she has excelled her role as a post player,” Bluder remarked. What makes Gustafson is that she is a post player with her left and right hand. “She told me this summer she did 50 hook shots on her left and 100 on her right,” Bluder stated. “That’s the type of kid she is,” Bluder continued.
Another player that is returning for the Hawkeyes is Sophomore Guard Makenzie Meyer who Bluder says is improving every day. “Our three point shot has been down the last couple of years and we are glad to have it back. She is leading the charge with that,” Bluder said. Another Guard who has made a factor for the Hawkeyes is Flint, Michigan native Junior Tania Davis. Bluder was surprised that she returned so quickly after a devastating injury against Michigan last season. “We were worried that we would not get her back until the Big Ten season after she tore her ACL last year,” Bluder commented. “Thankfully, we have had her back since day 1 and we are grateful for that. She is our leader on the floor. She’s got the attitude that we all look to as a team. She’s not overly high or overly low and that helps our team a lot. We are glad to have her back,” Bluder continued.
One of the most interesting things that has helped Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder succeed is her coaching staff which is one of the longest tenured staffs in women’s college basketball. Bluder and assistants Jan Jensen and Jenni Fitzgerald are in their 26th year together as well as newcomer Rania Harmon from Central Michigan. “I’m so excited about my staff,” Bluder remarked. “The thing that makes us different from everybody else is the longevity. It’s the longest tenured staff in the Big Ten because not only the head coach is staying but the assistant coaches are staying as well. It’s not a revolving door. It makes us more efficient and more productive because you don’t have to spend all the time training new coaches. It just makes it so much easier when you have assiants with you for that amount of time,” Bluder continued.
Bluder also noted on the biggest reason why they have stayed together for so long. “It’s our friendship that has kept us together,” Bluder said. “We came together to Iowa 18 years ago to bring Iowa back to a final four. That is something special because when you have highs and lows in basketball, you need someone to get through the tough times and they have done that,” Bluder said.
Iowa opens Big Ten play on the road against Wisconsin before returning home to host Michigan on New Years Eve.