Bluder Ball rolling up points, Hawkeyes racking up wins

Ryan Murken
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder watches her team practice for the NCAA women's basketball tournament regional in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Growing up in Iowa City, it didn't take Ally Disterhoft long to get hooked on Iowa basketball.

There was plenty to draw a young Disterhoft to the program, from family connections to the coaching staff.

Part of what grabbed her attention as a youth, however, was the way Lisa Bluder's teams scored points.

Those Hawkeye teams scored quickly, they scored in bunches and they had players that could score from anywhere.

"I think that grabbed my attention as a kid," Disterhoft said with a smile.

Disterhoft isn't a kid anymore, and the Hawkeyes are still scoring.

Iowa (26-7) enters Friday's NCAA Tournament regional semifinal against Baylor (32-3) averaging 79.9 points per game and are on pace to set a school scoring record for the second straight season.

"I think now more than ever we are really getting up and down the court and looking to push at all times," Disterhoft said. "Coach Bluder has made some adjustments over the years but this year obviously this style of basketball has really worked for the personnel that we have."

Iowa's Samantha Logic, left, walks over to slap hands with Ally Disterhoft during practice for the NCAA women's basketball tournament regional in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

Bluder's offensive model has always been successful at Iowa.

In 20 seasons before Bluder came to Iowa, the Hawkeyes averaged more than 65 points six times.

Iowa has averaged more than 65 points in 10 of Bluder's 15 seasons since taking over.

"I think it comes back to the coaching staff and who they recruit," Iowa freshman Whitney Jennings said. "They know, not only the type of players but the type of people that are going to mesh well with the system."

The past two seasons the Hawkeyes' system has taken scoring to another level.

The Bluder Ball model focuses on balance and highlights team play.

Last season, Iowa had five players average double figures in scoring while scoring a school-record 78.2 points per game.

This season, Iowa features four players averaging double figures and five players scoring at least 9.1 points per game.

"We've always talked about we want five people in double figures," Bluder said. "That's our goal."

Iowa's wide variety of current players have flourished in the up-tempo system.

It is an oddity that an offensive system can accommodate a 6-foot-4 center and guards that want to push the pace, but that's what the Hawkeyes do.

Iowa's four leading scorers — Disterhoft, Melissa Dixon, Bethany Doolittle and Samantha Logic — all have distinct offensive strengths.

And all are utilized in Bluder's offense.

"Anyone can contribute in this offense," Disterhoft said. "You have people that can get out and run on the break you have trailers coming down for the 3-point shot so we have a lot of different people we can go to which I think is what makes us such a great offensive threat collectively."

Dixon leads the nation in 3-pointers per game at 3.7. Logic is third nationally in assists at 7.9 and the 6-4 Doolittle is shooting 48 percent from the field and averages 14.1 points per game.

"Our offense is about taking what they are going to give us," Bluder said. "If you take away our 3-point shot that opens up the lane for driving or for Beth (Doolittle). There is always something we can do."

BROWN: It's been a sweet (16) season for Bluder's bunch

Bluder Ball has been at its best in this year's NCAA Tournament.

Iowa has had five double-digit scorers in both of this year's tournament games and is shooting better than 50 percent from the field.

In a win over Miami in the second round, Iowa shot just 36 percent and had 38 points in the first half.

The Hawkeyes scored 50 points on 75 percent shooting after halftime.

"You may be able to stay with us and stop our offense for 10 minutes and maybe even 20 minutes but it's hard to stop our offense for 40 minutes," Bluder said. "It really is because we are just going to keep coming at you and we have so many weapons."

Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.