Jan. 30, 2014
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Will the University of Iowa's offense -- top-rated in the Big Ten Conference -- score often enough Saturday against Nebraska in a women's basketball showdown?
Will the Cornhusker defense -- top-rated in the Big Ten -- be able to slow the five-headed offensive monster known as Doolitte, Disterhoft, Logic, Dixon, and Taylor?
The stage is set for a critical (aren't they all?) game between the Hawkeyes and Nebraska on Saturday with a 2 p.m. (CT) tip from Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"We're feeling pretty good about ourselves right now. We have some good momentum," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said Thursday at a news conference in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. "We know Nebraska is coming to town and they have been a thorn in our side."
A big, big, big thorn.
The Cornhuskers lead the all-time series 10-7, thanks to a run of six straight decisions, including three last season.
"We're feeling pretty good about ourselves right now. We have some good momentum. We know Nebraska is coming to town and they have been a thorn in our side."
UI basketball coach
It is Iowa's final home regular-season weekend game and the UI Marketing Department is pulling out all the stops: Pack the House, Dollar Dog Day, Girl Scout Day, and National Girls & Women in Sports Day. If that isn't enough, fans will see two of the top teams in the league: Iowa is third at 17-5 overall, 5-3 in the Big Ten; Nebraska is sixth at 14-5, 4-3. The Hawkeyes have won three games in a row and five of their last six.
Iowa is on top of the Big Ten with a scoring average of 80.5 points per game; Nebraska, which is coming off an 84-51 win against a 14-win Michigan team -- holds opponents to 61.3 points per game.
"Nebraska is on a roll and this is a team that has a lot of weapons," Bluder said. "Jordan Hooper, arguably one of the best players in the Big Ten, is a hard person to guard. She's a guard in a post body."
The 6-foot-2 Hooper averages 19.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Against Michigan she scored 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in 27 minutes. Last season she averaged 21 points and 7.3 rebounds against Iowa.
The Hawkeyes counter with a pretty salty competitor of their own in junior Samantha Logic. After Wednesday's 64-56 win at Minnesota, Logic has turned in six double-doubles and one triple-double this season.
"You play. The assists are teammates knocking down shots," Logic said. "The rebounds come and go. As far as points, Beth (Doolittle) had a couple great passes to me in their zone. I'm happy when our team is playing well. You want to play to win and if (a double-double) happens, that's pretty cool."
Because of the recent one-sidedness of the series, this game is on the mind of all the Hawkeyes, one in particular. Freshman Alexa Kastanek graduated from Southeast High School in Lincoln, Neb. Kastanek scored four points in six minutes Wednesday; in the previous three games she has averaged 17 minutes of court time.
"It is exciting, I know a lot of girls on the team," Kastanek said. "I grew up with (Cornhusker players) Emily Cady, Hannah Tvrdy, and Sadie Murren. It will be a fun game for me and to have my family watch me play against Nebraska will be fun."
In three games against the Cornhuskers last season, Logic averaged 8.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists.
"You have some of that intensity to play them," Logic said. "It's a new team, a new season, so you can't think too much about those six (losses) and you can't get too hyped up about it either. You have to play your game and come out with a win somehow."