Frustration still lingers, but Iowa women's basketball is moving on to road trip ahead
IOWA CITY — Running back the film does little to ease the frustration Lisa Bluder and all of Iowa women's basketball felt Monday night. But the veteran Hawkeyes coach knows letting the tough loss to Ohio State linger any further does more damaging than benefitting.
"It is over. You can't dwell on it, otherwise it'll beat you down," Bluder said Wednesday. "If you feel like you didn't get the calls you deserved — if you keep thinking about it over and over and over again — wow, that can really get to you.
"So I do think you have to let it go. But you always want to learn from losses. And I think there are things that we could've done better. So I definitely want to take those examples and learn from them."
The next chance for No. 24 Iowa comes Thursday in a place that's been kind to the Hawkeyes over the last decade-plus. Iowa (14-5, 8-2 Big Ten Conference) is shooting for its 25th consecutive victory over Wisconsin (5-15, 2-8), which hasn't toppled Bluder's program since Feb. 11, 2007. The 6:30 p.m. affair will air on BTN+.
After playing in what was later announced as the most-watched regular-season women's basketball game in Big Ten Network history, Thursday's trip doesn't exactly exude the same level of excitement. It didn't escape Bluder, though, that the Badgers are agonizingly due.
"It makes me nervous," Bluder said, "because all streaks have to come to an end, right? ... I know how mad that makes Wisconsin.
"You worry about with this game, them being more fired up than us to play because we have (highly ranked) Michigan coming up (Sunday). You worry about the mentality of your players going into a game like that. Whereas, Wisconsin has had this game circled. 'We've got them one time, at home this year. This is going to be the end of that (losing streak).' They've been sitting on it since Sunday getting ready for us. So the game makes me a little bit nervous because of that."
Quelling those nerves shouldn't be too complicated. With Wisconsin's scoring offense ranking second-worst in the Big Ten at 57.7 points per game, Iowa's improving defense should have a great rebound chance after serving up 92 to the Buckeyes. The Badgers are also the worst rebounding team in the league, which should offer plenty of second-chance and transition offense opportunities.
Conquering Wisconsin then allows Iowa to shift its full attention to No. 5 Michigan (19-2, 10-1), which hosts the Hawkeyes at 5:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2. As hard as Monday was for Iowa to stomach from a resume-enhancing perspective, here comes another big-win opportunity with several more on deck.
If anything can be directly applied from the Ohio State loss, it's the re-emphasis of a thin margin for error when quality foes are on the other side.
"Just the small things that can come back to hurt you at the end of a game," guard Caitlin Clark said Monday.
Now comes time to close the book and move on to Iowa's next road trip. Any lack of focus can be exposed quickly in the Big Ten. Bluder and her veteran squad are more than aware of that.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.