Bluder has mixed emotions after defeating her former star player
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder doesn’t usually have mixed emotions after a victory, but Tuesday was an exception.
Bluder was pleased with her team’s 89-76 victory over Drake at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. She just didn’t like that it came at the expense of somebody she greatly admires in Drake coach and former Iowa player Jennie Baranczyk.
“I wish we never had to do it,” Bluder said of playing Drake. “I honestly don’t know why we play this game. I really don’t. I don’t like playing against my former players. I don’t think it’s good for any reason. Why would you want to beat somebody that you really care about and really love?
“I cheer for Drake every single game except for this game. I have no desire to play Drake. We have everything to lose and nothing to gain by playing Drake. So it’s not a game I really enjoy at all.”
Baranczyk, formerly known as Jennie Lillis, was one of Bluder’s first recruits at Iowa and was a three-time captain for the Hawkeyes from 2000-04. Baranczyk helped lead the Hawkeyes to three NCAA Tournament appearances and was a three-time all-Big Ten selection.
Baranczyk understands Bluder’s way of thinking, but she doesn’t agree with her former head coach about not playing the game.
“She should like it a lot, she’s 4-0 (against me),” Baranczyk said of Bluder, who was the head coach at Drake before coming to Iowa. “I don’t have thoughts from her. But from us, it’s a great test and I love that we continue to play.”
Baranczyk believes strongly that the state’s four Division I women’s basketball programs should play each other on an annual basis.
“I love that all four of our teams play each other at our home schools,” Baranczyk said. “It’s important for women’s basketball. It’s important for our state to be able have this many fans come out and have as many fans as we had come out.”
Junior Ally Disterhoft led six Iowa players in double figures with 20 points. Iowa finished the non-conference part of the schedule with a 10-2 record and will face Nebraska in the Big Ten opener on Dec. 31 in Lincoln, Neb.
“First of all, I know we beat a real good Drake team today and that feels really good,” Bluder said. “We had some non-conference goals and one of them was to go 10-2 and we achieved that today.”
Bluder also was pleased with her team’s unselfishness and balance on offense. The Hawkeyes finished with 21 assists and made 28-of-63 field-goal attempts.
Iowa had four starters who scored in double figures and two reserves. Freshman center Megan Gustafson and sophomore guard Whitney Jennings came off the bench to score 16 and 15 points, respectively.
“Most coaches dream about having five players in double figures and we had six people in double figures, including two coming off the bench in Whitney and Megan,” Bluder said.
“So I was happy about that and was happy about the 21 assists. That’s back to Iowa basketball. They were down the last game. We were disappointed in that. It’s nice to see us passing the ball again.”
Iowa led 64-49 after three quarters. The Bulldogs trimmed the deficit to eight points in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer. The Hawkeyes made 7-of-8 free throw attempts in the final 57.1 seconds to secure the victory.
Disterhoft said playing unselfishly was emphasized during practice this week.
“We have a great inside game and we also have a great outside game and I think tonight we really just focused on having variety in our offense,” Disterhoft said.
Lizzy Wendell was the only Drake player to score in double figures with 35 points on 14-of-28 shooting from the field. She scored 43 points during a loss to Iowa last season.
Iowa has won two games since losing 69-66 at Iowa State on Dec. 11. The Hawkeyes also defeated Bradley 60-53 this past Saturday.
“I think our team did a really good job of handling that adversity,” Disterhoft said of the Iowa State loss. “We have had adversity in prior games this year. So we’re a little bit more experienced in that regard.”