Iowa women resetting goals in preparation for NCAA regionals
It's hardly a secret that a trip to the Sweet 16 has been a long-time goal for Iowa coach Lisa Bluder.
Until Sunday a goal that had gone unfulfilled.
Sunday's 88-70 win over Miami in the second round of the NCAA tournament secured the first Sweet 16 trip for Bluder and the Hawkeyes first appearance since 1996.
It also leaves Iowa with a new task, resetting its goals.
"We'll give them a day off and then we're going to readjust our goals," Bluder said following Sunday's win. "We made the Sweet 16 but there is no reason we can't keep going."
Keeping its season going is likely to be at the top of Hawkeyes' new list of goals.
No. 18 Iowa (26-7) will try to do just that when it faces fifth-ranked Baylor (32-3) in a Regional semifinal Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
"We want to keep playing with the team we love playing together and I think that is pretty evident on the floor," senior Samantha Logic said. "During games you can tell we just love playing together and we don't want it to be over."
Despite reaching one of its top goals Iowa doesn't plan on slowing down this weekend.
The Hawkeyes took one day, Monday, to celebrate its return to the Sweet 16 but then begin prepping for a Baylor team that has won six straight games.
"At this point we are hungry and I don't think our team will have a problem putting this in perspective," Iowa sophomore Ally Disterhoft said. "We will definitely celebrate today, it was a great win but we'll come back tomorrow and say hey, we can win this next game on Friday."
Second-seeded Baylor breezed through the opening weekend of the tournament winning a pair of games by a combined 70 points.
The Bears cruised past an Arkansas team that defeated Iowa earlier this season 73-44 in Sunday's second round.
Baylor will be playing in its seventh straight Sweet 16 when it takes on third-seeded Iowa on Friday.
That shouldn't deter an Iowa group that is more focused on itself and its own goals this time of year.
Iowa has won five of its last six after winning back-to-back NCAA tournament games for the first time under Bluder.
"I think this team believes in themselves and I just think we are really hitting stride," Bluder said. "We are playing well together, we are taking care of the ball, we are shooting the ball well, we are defending better we are in it for the long haul."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.