Rebounding margin opened eyes of Hawkeye players

Ryan Murken
Iowa's Bethany Doolittle, seen here during a game against USC Upstate at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Nov. 14, had a season-high 12 rebounds in the Hawkeyes’ win over Gonzaga. Doolittle is second on the team in rebounds per game, pulling down 6.7 per contest.

Lisa Bluder labeled herself a rebounding coach at her weekly press conference on Tuesday.

One of the first places the Iowa head coach looks on the postgame stat sheet is the rebounding numbers.

A point of emphasis when she looks at film is watching for box-outs.

So what went through Bluder's mind when she saw her team on the wrong end of a 51-24 rebounding edge in Friday's 77-67 loss to Arkansas?

"I'm telling you it really ticked me off," Bluder said on Tuesday. "That was unacceptable, it was just unacceptable."

There was some good in the Hawkeyes' first loss of the season against Arkansas (6-0).

The Hawkeyes shot a higher percentage from the floor and from 3-point range and had fewer turnovers than the Razorbacks, who climbed into the Top 25 this week.

It was the bad, highlighted by the disparity in rebounding margin, that had Bluder seething.

Arkansas had 19 offensive rebounds among its 51 total, while more than doubling up the Hawkeyes on the boards.

Arkansas' offensive rebounds played a key role in 26 Iowa fouls that in part led to a 20-2 Razorbacks edge in made free throws.

Those rebounds also led to one of the more animated postgame reactions from Bluder in recent years.

"It's about as excited as she gets," said sophomore Ally Disterhoft, who was the the only Iowa player with more than three rebounds against Arkansas. "It was centered around rebounding because we didn't put up good numbers offensively or defensively rebounding, we had some miscues in other areas of our game but (the rebounding) is predominantly what went wrong."

The 51-24 rebounding edge in the loss to Arkansas opened some eyes for an Iowa team that entered the meeting with the Razorbacks in the South Point Thanksgiving Classic +7 in rebounding margin.

Iowa out-rebounded its first three opponents by an average of 13.3 boards per game.

In its last four games the Hawkeyes have been out-rebounded three times and were even in rebounding in a win over Northern Iowa.

The Hawkeyes were out-rebounded by 12 in a bounce-back 79-67 win over Gonzaga on Saturday but still sit at -51 in rebounding margin over their last four games.

"I think after Arkansas everybody kind of saw that it is a glaring issue for our team," senior center Bethany Doolittle said. "Going into Gonzaga that was a huge emphasis for our team and I think we kind of bounced back a little bit but we definitely have a lot to work on."

Doolittle, who ranks second on the team behind point guard Samantha Logic (6.9 rpg) in rebounding at 6.7 per game, had a season-high 12 in the win over Gonzaga after managing just two rebounds in 19 minutes against Arkansas.

"Overall it's just a mindset thing and confidence thing," Doolittle said. "Rebounding is all about heart and physical appearance or height doesn't really factor into it as much."

The Hawkeyes will get another major test in the rebounding department on Thursday against No. 7 Louisville.

The Cardinals are out-rebounding opponents by an average of 9.4 per game this season and average 17.8 offensive rebounds per game.

"We've spent a lot of time on rebounding drills," Doolittle said. "I think they are just beating that into us that it's huge problem in our game and we have to work on it."

Reach Ryan Murken at 339-7369 or