Jan. 2, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- After closing its nonconference schedule with impressive wins over Texas and San Diego, University of Iowa head women's basketball coach Lisa Bluder is pleased with her team's momentum.
However, the attention turns to the Big Ten Conference and a wealth of opportunities that lie ahead.
"We enjoyed it," Bluder said about the pre-Big Ten season. "But it's over. Now everybody is 0-0, everybody starts all over again."
The Hawkeyes open conference play Thursday on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where they host 24th ranked Ohio State at 5:30 p.m. (CT). Ohio State won in Columbus last year, 84-71, in the only matchup between the teams.
Although Iowa and Ohio State have become rivals on the basketball court, senior Jaime Printy said every game is as important as the next.
"The Big Ten is a great conference, every game is going to be a battle," she said. "We have got to prove ourselves."
The senior from Marion, Iowa, said opening the Big Ten Conference schedule at home is an advantage that the Hawkeyes are grateful to have.
"[Ohio State] is a great team, and we're going to have to come ready to play," she said. "We'll be able to play with them, especially since we're at home."
"We know from experience that if you want to do well in the Big Ten, you have to do well at home. Every game is big in the Big Ten because they all count the same."
UI head basketball coach
"I think it's easy to get up for the Ohio State game," she said. "It's nice to open the Big Ten that way."
The Buckeyes enter conference play with a 10-3 record, with two losses coming against top 25 opponents.
Bluder emphasized the importance of slowing down senior Buckeye guard Tayler Hill, who averages 19.4 points per game.
"[Hill is] a heck of a player, she can score at will," Bluder said. "She is the key to their basketball team."
Hill has scored in double-figures in 47 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Big Ten.
Bluder also acknowledged the strength of Ohio State's primary post player, 6-foot-5 junior Ashley Adams. Adams averages 10.2 points and 7.0 rebounds a game. She is third in the Big Ten with 2.7 blocked shots a game.
"The impressive thing about (Adams) is how well she passes the ball," Bluder said. "She does some things that don't show up in the box scores that are very good."
UI senior Morgan Johnson said she is excited to open conference play with a heralded opponent like the Buckeyes.
"They have a great coach (Jim Foster), and they consistently have great players," she said. "They always show up ready to play, and that's something we have to be ready for."
The Hawkeyes look to improve upon their 7-1 home record, and hope to have similar fan support as they had in the early portion of their season with an average of 3,863 fans per game.
"We know from experience that if you want to do well in the Big Ten, you have to do well at home," said Bluder. "Every game is big in the Big Ten because they all count the same."
The first 750 fans through the gates Thursday will receive a Jaime Printy bobblehead. The game will be televised nationally by the Big Ten Network with Kevin Kugler and Mary Murphy calling the action.