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Bluder: This is one of my favorite times of the year

[ 0 ] December 27, 2012 |

The Iowa women’s basketball team has one last chance to build its tournament resume at the San Diego Surf ’N’ Slam Classic.

Iowa (9-3) takes on No. 20 Texas (7-2) in the opening round at 10 p.m.

The Hawkeyes were last on the court Dec. 19 in a 97-43 win over Missouri State. They return home next week and open Big Ten play against Ohio State at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3.

“This is one of my favorite times of the year,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “With the time that you have over the holiday break with your players and they don’t have school and they just have basketball to concentrate on, I think sometimes that’s when those freshmen can catch up.”

Iowa already has wins over then-No. 12 West Virginia and then-No. 22 Iowa State of the Big 12 this season.

The Hawkeyes also have a healthy RPI, rated 27th nationally by the Collegiate Basketball News.

The Big 12 is the top-rated conference and the Big Ten is second.

It is the third tournament of the season for Iowa. The Hawkeyes won the Preseason WNIT but went 1-1 at the FIU Thanksgiving Classic in Miami.

Now it’s a trip to the other coast for a different holiday.

“Now they don’t have classes, they don’t have the stress of exams; they can just focus on basketball,” Bluder said. “To me, it’s the most enjoyable time of the year.”

Iowa and Texas are very similar statistically. But Texas is impressive on the glass with a plus-16.2 rebounding margin compared to plus-2.9 for the Hawkeyes.

Six-foot-1 sophomore forward Nneka Enemkpali averages 12.1 rebounds per game, and 6-foot-7 center Imani McGee-Stafford pulls down 8.7 rebounds per game.

And the Longhorns have a pair of players they can bring in off the bench to clean the glass: 6-4 senior Cokie Reed (5.6 rpg) and 6-3 junior Anne Marie Hartung (4.8 rpg).

On the plus side, Iowa has a minus-0.6 turnovers margin compared to minus-2.9 for Texas.

“We’ve passed the ball extremely well,” Bluder said after the win over Missouri State. “I’m just happy with the way that we’ve played.”

Iowa will play either Central Michigan (5-5) or San Diego (7-3) at 2 or 4 p.m. Sunday.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball

About Ryan Suchomel: Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

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