Dec. 16, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Today marks the start of finals week on the University of Iowa campus, and while most UI students will be looking forward to a long winter break, UI women's basketball student-athletes will be focusing on their next final, and their next opponent.
"It is important to finish the semester strong," said senior guard Theairra Taylor. "We are student-athletes and students first.
"We have played well in our nonconference schedule, and a strong finish in our final two contests will give us confidence heading into conference play."
The 21st-ranked Hawkeyes conclude the month with two home matchups against in-state foe Drake on Saturday and North Dakota on Dec. 28 prior to starting league play Jan. 2 at Indiana. Both non-league games will be contested inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
First, preparation for finals, and the Bulldogs.
"This is a challenging week for all of us academically," said sophomore guard Kathryn Reynolds. "Practices this week provide a good time for us to shift our focus somewhere else. It is important to be able to balance studying with preparing for our game, with the ultimate goal of doing well on our tests and getting a big in-state win on Saturday."
For UI freshmen, a strong finish in their first semester is especially important.
"Finishing the first semester of my freshman year strong is a huge step for me in college," said freshman Alexa Kastanek.
Kastanek and the Hawkeyes are 10-2, and can finish the nonconference slate with a 12-2 mark with wins in their final nonconference games. Iowa entered last week tied for the most wins of any team in the nation.
"We had a goal of getting 11 nonconference wins, so Saturday's game will be a huge step for our team goal," said Kastanek.
Iowa -- the only Big Ten team to appear in the last six NCAA Tournaments -- is currently in a stretch where it plays only two games in 19 days. Once finals are over, the team can shift its focus to hoops, before classes resume on the UI campus on Jan. 21.
"It is important and exciting that it is finals week," said junior Samantha Logic. "We are looking forward to focusing on basketball, but school definitely comes first this week."
Once Big Ten play starts, the Hawkeyes will have a more consistent schedule, with two games a week.
"Once finals are over, we are looking forward to our next two games before conference plays opens, and getting back in the swing of things," said Logic.
The Hawkeyes and Bulldogs tip at 4 p.m. (CT) on Saturday on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game can be seen live on Mediacom.
Fans can stop by one of the four Hy-Vee stores in Iowa City or Coralville to pick up a free ticket to the game. Tickets, while supplies last, can be picked up at the customer service counters at any of the four Iowa City or Coralville locations (First Ave, N. Dodge, Waterfront, Coralville Strip).