Jan. 23, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Massages, manicures, and a Wisconsin women's basketball team with momentum will all be inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday.
The first two items on the list are courtesy of local salons; nothing is expected to come free or easy against the Badgers.
Wisconsin snapped a six-game losing streak Sunday with a 19-point victory against Ohio State, and the Badgers are showing renewed vigor behind leading scorer and Marion, Iowa, native Morgan Paige.
"Wisconsin is coming off its first Big Ten win; we had a competitive game against them at their place (on Jan. 10)," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said Wednesday during a news conference in the Media Room inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. "It will help get our players focused when they see that (Wisconsin is) coming off that win over Ohio State."
During an opening statement, Bluder teased that her pregame focus might be on the concourse of the arena, where it will be "Girls Night Out" with free manicures, haircuts, and makeovers.
"If you don't see me at the game, you know where I'll be," Bluder kidded. "I'll be up top there."
Iowa enters the contest 14-5 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten Conference -- and 9-2 on Mediacom Court. Wisconsin is 9-10, 1-5.
It is the second time in 14 days that the Hawkeyes and Badgers play; on Sunday Iowa and Michigan will also meet for a second time in two weeks.
"It's a weird quirk," Bluder said of the Big Ten schedule. "Two of our solo competitions (Ohio State and Michigan State) are already over with and then we play two of our dual opponents right away."
"Wisconsin is coming off its first Big Ten win; we had a competitive game against them at their place (on Jan. 10). It will help get our players focused when they see that (Wisconsin is) coming off that win over Ohio State."
UI head basketball coach
"It is a little easier on the players and coaches to prepare for the game," Bluder said. "But it is kind of a strange way the schedule is playing out."
In the first meeting against Wisconsin in Madison, UI senior center Morgan Johnson scored 23 points with 11 rebounds and she made all 11 free throw attempts. The Badgers led 24-22 at halftime and it wasn't until 11:38 remained that Iowa secured the lead for good at 45-43. The Hawkeyes used a 14-0 run during a stretch of 5:50 in the second half to put the game away.
In the case of Michigan, which defeated Iowa at home, 68-64, Bluder hopes to use the short turnaround to keep the loss in the thoughts of her players.
"I don't want it out of their minds," Bluder said. "I kind of like having it there, I think it's great motivation. I'm going to use it as much as I can."
Letdown? What letdown?
Iowa has won 11 consecutive games against Wisconsin, dating back to 2007. Of those 11 games, three went overtime and six were decided by nine points or less.
"Maybe we should be thinking about that more, because coming off the Purdue victory, us coaches have not really thought about it a lot until somebody brought it up," Bluder said. "Coming off a good win like that, you're playing at home, you're comfortable. We have to be wary of that."
The Hawkeyes scored 43 second-half points against Wisconsin in the first meeting and Bluder expects to push the pace again Thursday.
"We were pretty effective with the fast break the first time we played them and I think that's something we want to continue to look for against them," Bluder said.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT). In addition to a massage, manicure and makeover, the first 750 fans will receive a Morgan Johnson bobblehead souvenir.