March 15, 2012
COACH BLUDER: Well, first I want to say congratulations to the men's team. So excited for them and wish them well in Oregon. Going to be a great Sunday for Iowa Athletics.
We are getting ready to play California. We feel like we have had a lot of time to prepare for them with the Sunday game. We are used to playing that Saturday game and getting one more day to prepare, plus all the time we had before this leading up to it. I feel like it's been forever since we've had a game and our team is very anxious to play against somebody other than themselves in practice. California, very good basketball team obviously. Only lost nine games in the whole year. Three of them have been to Stanford, and one of them was in overtime. One of their losses was to Big Ten opponent Ohio State, but they did beat Illinois and UNLV, two of our other common opponents.
Very athletic team, very deep team, excellent rebounding team, very good penetration team. One thing that makes them a little different than the teams that we have seen in the Big Ten is that they are more of a full court pressure team than what we see, full court zone pressure. So that's something we have spent a lot of time working on because it's something that's very unusual that we don't see really within the Big Ten season. If you compare them to one team that we played in the year, I would have to go back to St. John's. I think they are very similar to St. John's, except they will play less zone than St. John's did, but they kind of have the same builds and athletic and penetration capabilities like St. John's.
Q. And rebounding?
COACH BLUDER: First of all, they are deep, and so they can spread their minutes around. For example, their starting four plays less than 20 minutes a game. If you look at their four position it’s probably the most productive position on the floor because their starter averages 10 minutes per game and 15 points, but the backup averages eight minutes a game and 10 points a game, and that's the backup four. So their fours, both of them are very similar, very athletic. But I think it's all because they have fresh legs; they keep coming in after you. But they can pursue the ball that well; that they are incredible athletes that can jump out of the gym. And so we are going to have to really rely on technique.
Q. Athletic teams have sometimes been the kryptonite of some of your teams. What do you do to off set that?
COACH BLUDER: I don't know you know, you think Nebraska was athletic? That was three of our losses this year.
Q. Maybe not necessarily this year.
COACH BLUDER: We have got to be able to contain the drive. That's important to us. It's been important all year no matter what team we are facing. We have got to box out and use good fundamentals. We have got to play smart basketball and really rely on our fundamentals, because if it's a one on one contest, we are probably not going to win.
Q. Talk about Morgan against the center nothing like her size.
COACH BLUDER: Starting center is 6 3. She's bigger than Morgan. She's a wider, stronger kid than Morgan; but even saying that, sometimes you get this impression that those kids are slow. This kid is not slow getting up and down the floor. She can still move it up and down the floor very well. But, Morgan does have a height advantage. You know, I think that they will probably try to double her and do some things to try to make her life a little more difficult.
Q. What do you do to take pressure off the freshmen?
COACH BLUDER: We try to tell them about what to expect, what it's like playing in the NCAA Tournament. It's a little bit more rigid. There's a lot of rules. There's a lot of protocols that you have to go through. There's drug testing. There's this locker room, and you can't walk outside these lines, and it's just a little bit more strict than what it is in a normal game. So you kind of want them to be prepared for just that everybody is watching and don't touch that ball before it's time or, you know, you can lose your hand.
The strictness of it all can get to you if you're not prepared for that. So I think that that's important. The press conferences and sometimes national media will be there with the No. 1 seed in our same bracket, and so that is something that you need to be prepared for. You also need to be prepared for physical play. It does seem like you get to the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, and not near as much is called. And that may not be good for us in this particular game, because I think California can be a physical basketball team. But I think we need to be prepared for, don't let it bother you if something is not called.
Q. What can be exploited with Cal?
COACH BLUDER: Well, they are not as good an outside shooting team as what we have faced and they are not as good of a free throw shooting team as what we have seen. I think sometimes they can get a little shaken or out of control running their offense. But those are you know, basically, I would say those three things are the things that we need to look at.
Q. Longest bus ride you've ever had?
COACH BLUDER: Longest one all year for us, definitely. I was probably on some longer ones when I was at St. Ambrose and Drake, but I don't think I've ever taken one this long in Iowa. The NCAA rules are that if you're within 350 miles, they will only pay for a bus, you know, and the University has decided to live by that.
Q. Have you talked to any of the coaches, Ohio State or Illinois and faced them, just to get maybe another glimpse or tips, full court pressure or anything like that?
COACH BLUDER: No, we haven't, because those games were so long ago. They were so far in the early part of the season. I know Ohio State is obviously getting ready for their tournament game anyway. So we have not. We have watched more of their recent films and tried to evaluate those.
Q. You mentioned the perimeter shooting; do you guys practice zone more often then?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, we have not seen a whole lot of people play zone against them, but that's part of what we are and we will continue to do a little bit of each.
Q. The teams that are going to be able to beat them, what has been the key? What game film have you seen?
COACH BLUDER: We have seen most of their later films, within their tournament and the last couple of games during the year, Oregon State, Utah, Colorado, Stanford. So we have seen those games. It's not a good thing if their outside shooting is on. If their outside shooting is on, for example, like when they went into overtime with Stanford, they were really hitting outside. So we don't want that to show up all of a sudden on us.
Q. Do you expect everyone to be available?
COACH BLUDER: Virginia, no, but everyone else that's been playing will definitely play.
Q. Been a couple of weeks since you've played.
COACH BLUDER: Two weeks and two days since we've played, when we suit up again. That's a long time.
Q. How do you keep the kids fresh and sharp?
COACH BLUDER: We try to do a lot more full court scrimmaging than what we usually do, try to keep the game mentality. Last week we brought officials in, scrimmaged our grey squad guys to give them more of that game atmosphere. We try to do a little bit more of that, but it really is a long time between games. And I've never liked where the Big Ten women's tournament sits, and this is a prime example of why we don't like it.