Feb. 5, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- They have broken down film and have been sinking extra baskets. Now the University of Iowa women's basketball team aims to break down and sink Minnesota on Thursday in Minneapolis.
The Hawkeyes (16-7 overall, 5-4 Big Ten) and Minnesota (14-9, 3-6) play at Williams Arena with a 7:31 p.m. (CT) tipoff. The game is televised by BTN.
Iowa enters the game on a two-game losing streak, a situation that resulted in calling a captains meeting. After cracking the top-25 a week ago, the Hawkeyes dropped back-to-back games at Illinois (74-62) and at home to Northwestern (67-65).
"As seniors you don't want to let the season slip away, and I'm not saying it has at all," UI senior guard Jaime Printy said. "We still have a lot of basketball left, but at the same time, it's already February and we want to go out strong and have fun at the end of the year."
That means more energy and more "high-fives" on the court for the Hawkeyes.
"We need to have fun out there," UI junior guard Theairra Taylor said. "We're taking ourselves a little too seriously. We need to play our game because we're good when we do that."
Taylor, one of four native Minnesotans on the UI roster, then turned prophetic.
"I continue to believe that a lot of shooting woes are confidence woes. It's between the ears, and you have to get that solved. We need to work on building our players' confidence back up."
Iowa basketball coach
Iowa defeated the Gophers 75-58 last February in Iowa City, the only time the teams met. The Hawkeyes have won the last four games in the series, including an 89-76 win at Minnesota in 2011.
"We've had some success up there in the past in this rivalry," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. "That will give our kids a little bit of confidence."
According to Bluder, confidence is key to conquering shooting deficiencies. The Hawkeyes shot 32.8 percent from the field against Northwestern (20-of-61), their lowest output since making 29.4 percent during a win against Iowa State on Dec. 6.
"I continue to believe that a lot of shooting woes are confidence woes," Bluder said. "It's between the ears, and you have to get that solved. We need to work on building our players' confidence back up."
This means that for the Hawkeyes, Thursday's game couldn't come soon enough.
"We're all excited to get back on the court and get ready to play differently than we did against Northwestern," Printy said.
Taylor, sophomore Bethany Doolittle, and freshmen Kali Peschel and Kayla Timmerman are all from the state of Minnesota. Peschel played in the same AAU program as Minnesota's leading scorer Rachel Banham. She was on the same team with Shayne Mullaney and Mikayla Bailey.
"We are very good friends," Peschel said. "I'm excited to see them be and be on the court with them one more time, even though it will be a little different scenario than it has been in the past. There has been a lot of smack talk, so I'm excited to get out there against them."
One Hawkeye who wasn't in a slump last week is sophomore guard Melissa Dixon. She made 3-of-6 3-point field goals at Illinois, and poured in a game-high 21 points against Northwestern by making 6-of-9 3-pointers.