March 17, 2010
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- When it comes to Saturday's first-round NCAA Tournament game, Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder isn't expecting anything different from a C. Vivian Stringer-coached team.
One of Stringer's main stamps on her Hall of Fame career has been full-court, in-your-face pressure defense and an up-tempo style offense. After a few days of breaking down film, Bluder told media members assembled at Wednesday's press conference inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena that she saw the same old Stringer.
"It was pretty much as expected," Bluder said. "Great full court press and a full-court defense. They are an up-tempo type of transition t-am. Going into this game, we know we are going to have to break the press."
Iowa has faced a few Big Ten Conference opponents this season that have utilized a softer, three-quarters court press, but the Rutgers full-court attack is much different.
One advantage Iowa does have against a tough press is great guard play. Iowa's entire back-court has been asked to handle the ball against pressure. Not to mention, all three starting guards were named to all-Big Ten teams this season.
"We all have confidence in each other when it comes to handling the basketball," sophomore point guard Kamille Wahlin said. "Our offense isn't set in a way that I have to be the one to bring the ball up and call the play. Whether it's Jaime (Printy) or Kash (Alexander), we know we can get our offense working."
Bluder also expects a physical contest against the Scarlet Knights and is quick to mention the Big Ten Tournament run should have helped the Hawkeyes prepare for its NCAA opponent.
"We just got done playing two very physical opponents in Penn State and Michigan State," Bluder said. "I think Rutgers is pretty comparable to a Penn State. They (Rutgers) aren't extremely tall, but they are physical and athletic."
Rutgers has only one player, second team all-Big East pick Brittany Ray, who is scoring double figures at 14.5 points per game. Bluder believes Ray will be a tough matchup and is very deserving of her honors.
"She's a very good three point shooter, and their best shooter," Bluder said. "She's a tough matchup."
Ray does the majority of Rutgers' three-point shooting. Rutgers is 112-of-389 from 3-point range, with Ray making shooting 63-of-165. April Sykes is next on the team with only 15 made treys.
When comparing numbers, Wahlin has attempted just 10 fewer long distance shots (214) than the rest of Rutgers' roster, minus Ray, combined (224).
"I don't think it's a secret that we like to shoot three's," Wahlin said. "But that's not our entire offense. We have guards who love to drive and dish and post players who do an excellent job in the paint."
Iowa and Rutgers face off Saturday at 7:16 p.m. (CT) Saturday. The game can be seen regionally on ESPN2, and nationally on espn360.com.