Dec. 30, 2009
By Brandon Swedberg
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Losing another player to injury is something the University of Iowa women's basketball team did not for see coming, nor needed. The Hawkeyes will have to do without sophomore Hannah Draxten the rest of the season following an ongoing back injury. The eight remaining players for the Hawkeyes (7-6) will have their hands full when Wisconsin (11-2) comes into Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday for a 5 p.m. game.
"Right now we are trying to be as positive as we can be following an overtime loss against Penn State," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said Wednesday during a media conference. "We had opportunities to win that game basically playing with eight players. The loss of Theairra and Hannah to our team hurts and the depth keeps dwindling which it makes it tough on us, but we are still competing even with those low numbers."
Wisconsin comes into Thursdays Big Ten game riding the momentum from their last victory, beating No. 16 Michigan State on Monday. The eight player rotation is going to be difficult to juggle against Wisconsin Bluder said, but she stresses how well her team has handled adversity thus far.
"I am blessed I have a terrific group of women that are unbelievable," Bluder said. "They are taking everything life is throwing at them and bouncing back. They are not wallowing in self-pity; they are bouncing back and doing the best they can."
In order to have her players compete at their highest level, Coach Bluder and her staff will reduce the physicality of practices. Bluder expects her stars to play 35 minutes or longer in order to compensate for the losses the team has had due to injuries.
Even with the onslaught of injuries, junior Kachine Alexander does not believe the lack-of-depth is something to be too concerned about.
"I am blessed I have a terrific group of women that are unbelievable. They are taking everything life is throwing at them and bouncing back. They are not wallowing in self-pity; they are bouncing back and doing the best they can."
"I feel like we are doing really well with the depth," Alexander said. "Every team usually plays seven or eight players. So we are not really down in my eyes. We usually only play seven or eight as it is. Kamille is going to have to log a lot of game minutes and Jaime will have to too until I get back into game shape. We are all going to have to take care of our bodies outside of the court and take into consideration that we won't get the time we usually do to rest."
The Wisconsin game will only be Alexander's fourth game back since sustaining a stress fracture and admits she is not in 100 percent game shape. "The coaches have been good in getting me four of five minutes of rest here and there just so I don't push myself too hard too quickly," she said.
Thursday night's game also has added meaning for Alexander, as she has never lost to the Badgers since she has put on the black and gold uniform.
"We are really excited about this opportunity to win our first Big Ten game," Alexander said. "Wisconsin is a really good team and they have improved since last year. It is going to be a tough game but we will be ready to handle it."