B1G Buzz Ahead
Jan. 29, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- There is a certain buzz surrounding the Iowa-Illinois women's basketball game Thursday, and that buzz is defense...the Buzz Defense.
The founder of the aggressive, trapping defense is Mike Divilbiss, associate head coach for the Illini, who enter the game with a record of 11-8 overall, 4-3 in the Big Ten. The style has been adopted by the Hawkeyes (16-5, 5-2), who are ranked as high as No. 24 in the nation.
"They really get after it," UI sophomore point guard Samantha Logic said. "Illinois wants to go up and down, they want to get fast breaks. We have to do a good job at being composed, getting good shots, and working on our offense to get the shot we know we can."
History sides with the Hawkeyes in this series: Iowa has won the last eight meetings, 14-of-15, and the last seven in Champaign, Ill. Many Illini faces may look the same, but this is a new program under first-year head coach Matt Bollant.
It worked for the Illini on Monday at Minnesota. They forced 18 turnovers, scored 91 points and improved to 4-0 on the road in the Big Ten this season. Oddly, they are 0-3 against league competition at home.
"Sometimes you have to look at opponents that they're playing against," Bluder said. "They played Purdue at home, they played Michigan State at home, they split with Northwestern, winning at Northwestern and losing at home."
If a lengthy losing streak against the Hawkeyes isn't enough fuel for the fire, the fact Iowa cracked the top 25 on Monday should be an extra accelerant.
"We have to realize that it's just a number and it puts that target on our back," UI senior Jaime Printy said. "Everyone is going to come even more ready to play against us."
"I'm hoping what (the national ranking does) is bring them confidence because they have worked hard for this and they deserve it," Bluder said. "But we also know we're only as good as that next game, and winning that next game."
In some ways, Thursday's contest might look a bit like any other Hawkeye practice; at least when Iowa's offense tries to solve the Illinois defense.
"We've practiced against it and we use the defense," UI junior Theairra Taylor said. "I think we'll be prepared for it."
The Hawkeyes will also be prepared for a physical confrontation. Illinois averages 19.5 fouls per game, and seven Illini players have fouled out of a total of 22 times. Leading the way is leading scorer Adrienne GodBold, who averages 18.9 points and 4.8 fouls a game; second-leading scorer Karisma Penn averages 18.7 points and 3.6 fouls a game.
"We have to know that if we don't get certain calls or if things aren't going our way, we have to remain a team," Taylor said.
So far this season, Iowa has been the consummate example of team play. Six players average 7.9 points or more; in conference games, those six average between 14.1 points and 9.0 points per game. Iowa has had six different players lead, or share the lead, in scoring through 21 games. Senior center Morgan Johnson has paced the Hawkeyes in scoring 10 times, Printy seven times, sophomore guard Melissa Dixon four times, Taylor and sophomore center Bethany Doolittle twice, and sophomore guard Kathy Thomas once.
"We have all the parts that you need in a good, competitive basketball team," Bluder said. "We have good height, we have a great inside presence with Morgan, and Bethany keeps getting better and better. We have a very good point guard that is leading us, and we have 3-point shooters."
Thursday's game tips off from Assembly Hall in Champaign at 7 p.m. (CT).