Bluder: A win at Indiana 'takes care of a lot of the problems'
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa didn’t watch any tape from its 72-52 loss at Purdue. Instead, head coach Lisa Bluder had Chase Coley snap the game DVD in half. Tiny silver shards of plastic flew everywhere.
"It was probably not the smartest thing I’ve ever done," Bluder said with a laugh. "But I didn't think of getting the old science goggles out beforehand."
A cathartic, light-hearted moment for a team that needed one. The Hawkeyes led the Boilermakers, 35-25, at halftime before getting outscored, 47-17, in the second half.
Now, with the team’s visual evidence of that game literally broken in pieces, Iowa (16-11, 7-7 Big Ten) moves forward to play at Indiana on Wednesday in easily the most important game of the young Hawkeyes’ season.
"We haven't played that poorly since Penn State — the second half," Bluder said. "That’s been a long time, and I told the team it’s going to be a long time before we play that poorly again."
The Hoosiers (18-9, 8-6) sit atop the six-team logjam clogging the middle of the Big Ten. They, Penn State, Purdue and Michigan State are all tied for fourth; Iowa and Northwestern are one game back, at 7-7.
Thanks to Indiana’s loss at Nebraska on Sunday, all six teams still have a shot for the No. 4 spot and a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament. The Hawkeyes hold the tiebreaker over Northwestern and Michigan State; Penn State and Purdue hold the tiebreaker over them.
So here’s what Iowa needs to happen for the four-seed: It needs to beat Indiana and Wisconsin to finish 9-7 in conference and it needs Penn State and Purdue to both lose their final two games and finish 8-8.
That four-seed is big. It provides a clearer path to the Big Ten semifinals, which would look good on a bubble team resume — which all six have right now.
Bluder said she thinks her team is in good shape for the NCAA Tournament. The RPI rankings agree; Iowa was at 47 Tuesday, the fifth-best in the Big Ten. ESPN’s Charlie Creme pegged the Hawkeyes as a 10-seed and the first of the "Last Four In" in his latest bracketology, which was released Tuesday.
Indiana? One of Creme’s "First Four Out."
"Let’s go get Indiana," Bluder said. "Let’s just do that, because that takes care of a lot of the problems.
"Michigan State (41 RPI) was a great win. James Madison (38 RPI) was a great win. We’ve done everything we need to do at home, really — during the conference season, that is. Again, we’re not a shoo-in; we’re not a shoo-out. But I just know beating Indiana sure helps our cause."
They’ll try to help their cause with another healthy body on the bench. After missing two games with a concussion, Bre Cera will be active for Wednesday’s game in Bloomington, Ind. She was set to practice Tuesday.
"(Cera) gives us another body that we can count on for more depth, but it also gives us a defensive presence, because Bre does a tremendous job, defensively, and she can guard a variety of different positions," Bluder said. "And she’s also a good rebounder, which is something we were missing at Purdue, as well."
Christina Buttenham is still out with symptoms from her concussion, Bluder said. She went with the team to Purdue but regressed during warmups and watched the game from the locker room. She will not make the trip to Indiana.
Iowa Hawkeyes (16-11, 7-7) at Indiana Hoosiers (18-9, 8-6)
When / Where: 6 p.m., Assembly Hall
TV: Big Ten Network Plus
About Indiana: Junior guard Tyra Buss leads the team with 18.4 points and she's a big reason why Indiana boasts the country's 13th-best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.31). "Tyra Buss, obviously a tremendous player," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. "Not only a good scorer, but people just forget how many assists she averages and how good of a passer she is as well as a scorer."