Nov. 27, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- For most members of the University of Iowa women's basketball travel party, watching the movie Elf starring Will Ferrell and Bob Newhart on an eight-hour bus trip from Miami to Tallahassee, Fla., is a rerun.
Handling Florida State and its match-up zone starring Natasha Howard and Leonor Rodriquez on Wednesday is something they haven't seen before.
"This will be our biggest test of the year because Florida State has such balanced scoring and they are explosive and run the transition extremely well," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said Tuesday during a teleconference. "We're going to have to get back on defense and not give up those easy baskets."
Iowa (5-2 overall) completed a down-and-up ride at the FIU Thanksgiving Classic in Miami, falling on a last-second layup to the host Panthers, 66-65, on Nov. 23, before upsetting No. 12 West Virginia, 79-70, two days later.
"We have been there before when we have had a bad loss," Bluder said. "Trisha (Nesbitt), Morgan (Johnson) and Jaime (Printy) -- our senior captains -- have been there before and they know how to do it. They know how to get the team back up again and I think you rely on your senior leadership a lot in those situations, especially when you're on the road. Those three women did a good job of getting our team refocused and believing they could come out and win against West Virginia."
"This will be our biggest test of the year because Florida State has such balanced scoring and they are explosive and run the transition extremely well. We're going to have to get back on defense and not give up those easy baskets."
UI head basketball coach
The bus ride trumped the alternative of flying from Miami to Cedar Rapids on Monday, and turning around Tuesday and flying from Cedar Rapids to Tallahassee.
"That's a lot of traveling and traveling can wear you out," Bluder said. "Yes, we were on an eight-hour bus ride yesterday, but it went pretty quickly. We had a lot of good movies in there, we got Elf in for Christmas, so that was fun; we also stopped at coach Fitzgerald's parents' house in Orlando -- they hosted us for dinner. It was a nice opportunity for us to stretch our legs and take a break halfway in between."
Iowa's second true road test of the season could also be its biggest challenge. The Hawkeyes are holding opponents to 32.9-percent shooting from the field and 24.5-percent from 3-point range; Florida State (5-0) averages more than 80 points a game and makes more than half its field goal attempts.
"This time of year you're just trying to get better every time on the floor, playing against different styles of play," Bluder said. "Florida State will give us a different style of play then what we have seen this year. They play predominantly a match-up zone and they really match up. They deny one pass away extremely hard. We haven't seen anyone play this type of zone before -- it's a learning experience every time you're going against an opponent in the nonconference, hopefully you're getting ready for that conference season and for different styles of play you might see in postseason. Florida State will give us that opportunity tomorrow."
Wednesday's game, part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, will begin at 6 p.m. (CT). It will be streamed live on ESPN3. This is the first meeting between Iowa and Florida State in women's basketball.