Feb. 22, 2013
COACH BLUDER: Well, we are probably playing one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten at Nebraska. They've won eight straight. Obviously, playing very, very well. I think Nebraska and Penn State are, just like as predicted, clear frontrunners in our conference. But I think it gives us a little confidence, first of all, coming off a good road victory over a top 20 opponent. Also, that we played them well last time. It was a one point defeat, and I never want to get too excited about defeats by any means or take those almost kind of victories. But at the same time, our team knows that they can play with them, and I think that's a good thing.
Nebraska is such a good fast breaking team. We have to really be cognizant of their transition. And the first game was just too much Jordan Hooper. She's an unbelievable player, definitely an All-Big Ten player. We're looking at two kids from this team that are potential all Big Ten players with her and Lindsey Moore, the point guard. So a really good opponent that we're going up against this weekend.
Q. Speaking of the All-Big Ten awards, Melissa Dixon is making a bid for Sixth Player of the Year. Could you talk about that a little bit?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, Melissa Dixon has been fabulous for us off the bench all year. And I think she is absolutely a shoe in for the Sixth Player of the Year. I don't even know who would challenge her for the Sixth Player of the Year at this point. I've heard lately that she's one of the best 3 point shooters in the country as far as the sixth player. So I absolutely think Melissa Dixon is a shoe in for that.
Q. Jordan Hooper, how do you try to slow her down?
COACH BLUDER: You've just got to stay on her constantly. You've got to find her in transition. She shoots so many 3’s out of transition that people are back in the paint. She comes down and takes that 20 , 22 footer out of transition, and she's very good at it. Last game, we fouled her on one, she made all three of her free throws. We gave her one where she got in transition. So we've got to find her early. Then in the zone, you've got to identify her as well. And then moving around in the zone pretty well and keeping her in different positions, so you just can't key in on one area as well.
Q. How tough of a month has it been with five straight losses?
COACH BLUDER: You know, we have short memories. What I remember now is that win over Purdue, and I'm feeling pretty darn good about it.
Q. What are you going to do to defend three pointers?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, they're a good 3 point shooting team. They shoot a lot of 3 pointers. You know, their percentages deepen, but it's just that they shoot so many of them. It's like Hooper, she's a good shooter, but percentage wise there are other shooters on the team that shoot a much better percentage. It's just that she takes so many more shots than anybody else on the floor. But we definitely do want to play some zone. So we've got to get out and get our hands up, closeout hard, and move on the pass so we can protect against the three point shot. But they get a lot of them in player, the 3-pointers in player as well. Again, a lot of them in transition. So you can't fill just back into the paint. You've got to fill to a person and find that person on the perimeter.
Q. What was working at Purdue, and how do you carry that over to Nebraska?
COACH BLUDER: Well, our zone defense is very good. Our defense as a whole was pretty darn good against Purdue. Then we also got in the paint. We got some good high percentage shots. We converted our lay ups. So we got some really high percentage shots and 18 assists on the game, and that's all good for us.
Q. What do you do? Jaime's kind of struggled the last two games. Do you do anything to get her going early?
COACH BLUDER: Nebraska usually puts one of their better defenders on Jaime, so I don't know that we want to put all of our marbles in that basket, so to speak, as far as trying to get her open. When we work best is when we run our offense and kids find themselves open because we executed well in our offense versus running a bunch of specials. So I think we'll just keep doing what we've been doing, and try to get her involved in the offense by having good penetration. Having the spot up 3’s, and having her take the ball the hole hard too. I think she can get good drives and get in the basket, because she's such a good free throw shooter. We don't mind her scoring points from the free throw line.
Q. After that tie game, you can come back and get her another win. How much do you think that helps you in the NCAA Tournament?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, we need some more wins for the NCAA Tournament resume. Certainly getting any win is a good thing for us right now. But when you get them against a top 25 opponent, it means a lot, and you get them on the road, it means a lot. So we still need to get some more wins. I definitely think that will help our cause. But that was a bit better than I thought.
Q. What are you hoping out of Sam Logic this weekend?
COACH BLUDER: More of what she gave us against Purdue would be nice. She was so aggressive taking the ball to the hole, and they did not want to help off of our shooters, so that was good, because it allowed us to get to the rim. Sam was outstanding both offensively and defensively. She's going to have another tough defensive assignment this week as well. I know Sam though, and she embraces every challenge that we give her and she love it's. It's almost like she lives for those opportunities. So I just want her keep being more aggressive offensively like she was in the Purdue game. I think that really helps our team a lot.