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Harty: Louisville simply too much for Iowa squad

[ 0 ] March 25, 2014 |

Much to the dismay of Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder, an all-too familiar script played out Tuesday at the expense of her overmatched team.

Louisville handed Iowa its seventh consecutive loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, including the fifth in a row under Bluder. And like most of the previous second-round losses, Tuesday’s game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena was a mismatch, with the third-seeded Cardinals cruising to an 83-53 victory.

You name it and Louisville did it better, especially when it came to playing defense.

One of the biggest problems that Iowa faced in Tuesday’s game was that Louisville’s front-line players were as quick or quicker than Iowa’s backcourt players.

It was most noticeable when Louisville was playing defense. Iowa went nearly eight minutes without making a basket in the first half. The Hawkeyes also had many possessions on offense where they struggled just to get a shot off against Louisville’s relentless pressure.

The Cardinals didn’t play exceptionally well on offense, especially in the first half, but it didn’t matter because they caused Iowa to unravel on offense.

The halftime statistics showed just how discombobulated Iowa was on offense. Iowa trailed 40-23 and had only two assists and eight turnovers. All-Big Ten point guard Samantha Logic was held without an assist in the first half, but she tied freshman Ally Disterhoft for the most field-goal attempts among Iowa players in the first half with seven.

Iowa is at its best when Logic is driving to the basket and dishing to her teammates for easy baskets in transition. Unfortunately for Logic, her teammates didn’t have many open looks and when they did, they often rushed the shot or just missed. Logic finished with nine turnovers and just three assists.

Iowa is at its best when junior shooting guard Melissa Dixon is getting loose from 3-point range. But she rarely had an open look at the basket and was held to five points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field.

Louisville was so vastly superior that you kept having to remind yourself that Iowa won 27 games this season. These were many of the same players that helped Louisville to a runner-up finish in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Upsets are few and far between in Division I women’s basketball, and that doesn’t benefit anybody except the teams administering the beat-downs. This year’s NCAA Tournament might as well be called the UConn Invitational with special guest Notre Dame, because the odds of those two powerhouses not squaring off in the title game are slim to none.

The women’s game has come a long way in a short time — Iowa didn’t have a team until 1974 — but the lack of parity is a problem that just won’t go away.

Tuesday’s game between Louisville and Iowa certainly didn’t help change that image.

The game was competitive for about the first five minutes.

Louisville senior guard Shoni Schimmel shredded Iowa with a variety of shots. And the few times when she did miss, her teammates usually grabbed the offensive rebound.

The turnout for Tuesday’s game, which was announced at 4,320, was disappointing, but not surprising considering Iowa’s history with attendance and considering the 8:35 p.m. starting time. I love watching television as much as anybody, but it’s also to blame for these ridiculous starting times.

But this game could have started at noon and had 10,000 screaming Iowa fans and it still wouldn’t have mattered. Louisville was simply too much for Iowa to handle on both ends of the floor.

Before I call it a wrap, the NCAA deserves praise for honoring the Wartburg wrestling team during halftime of Tuesday’s game. Wartburg won its fourth consecutive Division III national title last week.

You could tell that it meant something to the Wartburg wrestlers when the fans gave them a rousing ovation.

It was just a nice gesture on a night when Iowa fans didn’t have much to cheer about.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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