Iowa Women Getting Ready for Iowa State

The Iowa Women's Basketball team will play a road game against the Iowa State Cyclones this week. Hilton Magic took a hit last year, but Ames is still one of the most difficult venues to play in on the women's side of things. Lisa Bluder talks about that game and the challenges that the Iowa State fans present, in addition to quotes from Jennie Lillis and Kristi Faulkner in this week's Iowa Women's Basketball Update.


It's a wonderful week. We're excited about the week. Coming back from a good play at the tournament at Florida International. I'm glad to bounce back with the tournament championship there, but I know the importance of the game on Wednesday against Iowa State. Iowa State, everybody at the beginning of the year was like, "How are they going to score?" Well, they've found a way to score. Iowa State is coming off a big win over Indiana, somebody from the Big Ten Conference. Iowa State has got almost five people (scoring) in double figures. They obviously have a lot more firepower than people thought they were going to have.

(ISU freshman) Lindsey Medders (15.0 PPG) has come in and done a great job in her two games. (ISU freshman) Megan Ronhovde (10.0 PPG) is obviously playing very, very well as a freshman. You have two freshmen in double figures. They're doing a nice job. Lisa Kriener seems to be doing a great job at the center position. She's a junior now, so she's got a lot of experience. They're shooting well from 3. They're rebounding well. They're shooting well from the free throw line. It should be a tremendous game. We have to be ready for the Hilton (Coliseum) atmosphere, a very loud crowd. Playing in that type of atmosphere we haven't experienced yet this year. That will be new for us.


What is it like playing at Hilton with 8,000-10,000 people there?

It's tough to communicate with your team because it does get loud in there. They have the band right next to your bench. We've played in hostile environments before, but it's one of the best. It truly is. Penn State is tough. Purdue is tough. Minnesota is very difficult to play at. But Iowa State is right up there.

Are there any things you do to prepare for playing in such a loud environment? You hear of NFL teams bringing in speakers with noise.

We don't have time to do that sort of stuff. We got back on Sunday night. We only have an hour and a half practice today. To us, it's more important to let our team know what it's like and talk about it so they know what they're going to face. I'd love to have the time to do some of that stuff, but we just don't.

What did your team learn from the Florida tournament and how will that help it down the road?

I saw great character from our team at the end of both of these games. We're down five points with four minutes to go against St. Joe's and come back with a nine-point swing. We give up one field goal in the last four minutes of play. The next night, we have a substantial lead and they get within five and we're able to hang on. Both of those scenarios are going to put us in good shape at the end of the year because we've been through both of those now. It was great experience for us this past weekend.

You gave Iowa State a pretty good thrashing last year. Is there an emotional edge in that?

It's both ways. Iowa State is going to want to avenge that loss. I'm sure that they have that score written up on their board. At the same time, it gives us a little more confidence going to play at Hilton. I would much rather have it being that way than not having beaten Iowa State last year and going to play at Hilton. Now, we know we were the state champions last year. We should go in there with a great amount of pride. But we respect Iowa State and Hilton and know that it's a challenge to go in there and play.

Is there a certain degree of envy about the crowds they get at Hilton?

It is for me. I'd love to have 10,000 people in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It's wonderful what they've done up there with bringing people into the stands. They've done a great job.

Is it tougher for players to play in front of a big crowd? Or is it tougher to play in an empty gym?

It's both ways. I've had teams go in and play very flat because there was nobody in the crowd. I think about our team going to Southwest Missouri State all of those years and how our team got excited to play in front of that type of crowd. You have to look at the fun part of trying to quiet a crowd and give them nothing to cheer about.

Is it possible to get the crowds in Iowa City that they're seeing in Hilton and what would it take?

I don't know if it's possible here. I hope it is. That's one of our dreams is to have that type of crowd. Winning definitely will help. I do believe that once people experience Iowa Women's Basketball, they'll enjoy it. It's getting people here the first time. I think it can be possible, but I guess it's not been proven yet.

Do you have to have a Top 10 program to draw the crowds or do you have to have the crowd to develop a Top 10 program?

You go back to recruiting, and recruits want to play in front of crowds. If you can bring them into an environment like that, it's easier to recruit. You get the good recruits, you win games. You win games, you get people. It just is a snowball effect.

Is it probably no surprise that when you look at the attendance leaders those are the teams on top?

Yeah, but then you also look at teams like Wisconsin. Wisconsin didn't win last year. They were at the bottom of the Big Ten Conference, and they still had the great crowds. Iowa State maintained their crowds even though they had probably a disappointing year for them. Once you get the crowds, maybe it's easier to keep them. But it's getting them originally that might be the hard part.

It seems like Crystal Smith is healthy and stepping up her offense.

I was thrilled with Crystal's last game at Florida International because that type of play is what we saw in August. That type of play is what we saw in the practices before the games began. Once the games began, Crystal didn't really show what she was capable of out on the floor. That was the first game where she really broke out of her shell. I hope now that she is out to stay because she can really help us.

What is Deb Remmerde's current status?

It's one of those week-by-week scenarios. Really, we can never predict how fast somebody is going to heal. It's going to have to be week by week to see how she can come back from it. She is showing progress, though. We would have loved to have her back for this week.

Is she shooting yet?

A little bit.

Many of the players in this game were teammates in the Game Time League. Is that an ideal situation?

I love the Game Time League. It's good for our program. It's good for all of the programs in the state. It lets them get to know each other as people a little bit more. But it was to our advantage last year playing this game because we had not beaten Iowa State for a while. All of a sudden, we're playing with them in the summer. We know we can play with them. It gave us a lot more confidence going into the game last year.

Did Kristi (Faulkner) lead this team over the weekend?

Kristi was phenomenal on Saturday. It was one of those games where you feel like a player is in the zone. That's how she looked. That's how she acted out on the floor. It's fun to see a player have that much confidence in play out there.

What does having only four turnovers in the first half against Florida International say about this team?

The first half of that game was just tremendous as far as the turnovers and we only gave up one offensive rebound. It was a beautiful first half. They shot the ball well, but we did some things well defensively. I'm not ready to say we're over the hump yet. That was one game. Until we consistent behavior of lowering the turnovers, I'm not ready to way that we're there yet. But it's a good sign in the right direction.

You have a tall front line and Iowa State starts three guards. How do you see that match up?

You really don't have a lot of opportunity to take advantage of a lot of mismatches against Iowa State since they play primarily zone. We've got to be prepared at all positions to stop the 3-point shot. Sometimes we're out of position on the defensive end.

Iowa State said that it's hard to prepare for your triangle (offense). In reverse, is it hard to prepare for their zone?

Yeah. And we've seen (Iowa State use) the Box-and-One. That's something we haven't seen this year. We'll have to be prepared for that. Iowa State is a tough team to get ready for. But it will help us later in the year when we play similar style teams like Michigan State and Ohio State. Yeah, they're difficult to prepare for, but it's good for us.

What are the keys to tomorrow's game?

The rebounding is a key, again. I feel like the offensive rebounding has to be our second-best offense. When we crash and get those second opportunities, it's just like a renewed life for your team. I really want our team to play with great defensive intensity. We did that at Florida International. And, (we need to) take care of the basketball. I don't think you can beat any team when you're in the 20s in turnovers.

Is the balanced scoring the biggest difference in Iowa State?

I think that's the biggest difference. Four people in double figures and people coming off the bench and doing well.

In the big picture, how much importance is put on this game?

It's important for how your conference rank ends up. We want everybody in the Big Ten to win every one of these games against the Big 12 and SEC opponents because that's going to make our conference rank end higher. And the higher your conference ranks, the more teams you feel like you're going to get into the NCAA picture. All of these games are important against Iowa State, Kansas State and Missouri. It's one small fraction of it, but it certainly can't hurt.

Did you attend the Dowling-Ankeny game when Jennie (Lillis) played against Erica (Junod)?

Yeah. You could probably compare them to the Iowa-Iowa State games. They were very emotionally charged. Both teams brought their best games. They were fun games. I'm sure both of them want the last word in it.


How big is this game in the big scheme of things?

Every game is a big game, but this is a big rivalry. We have to be ready to play. It's a great place to play. The environment there is always really intense. They have a great fan base.

What do you remember from two years ago?

Whenever you play there, you remember the excitement of playing there because their fan base is so enthusiastic.

Does it make it easier for you guys to get pumped up with the big crowd or us kind of deafening?

It's works to anyone's favor because it is exciting; as long as you communicate. There are things like talking loud and making sure that you really communicate well throughout the game. That's probably one of the most important things.

You guys roughed them up pretty good last year. How do you expect them to react to that?

They'll be ready to play. They're definitely be ready to go. We expect them to come out and play really hard.

How is this Iowa State team different than last year's team?

They're more experienced. They're definitely a good team this year.

What did you gain from the two games in Florida?

There were a lot of ups and downs throughout both games. The first game, we really stayed poised and were able to pull it out at the end. The second game, we were faced with adversity and really pulled through in the clutch and built our confidence a little bit.


You're going to Hilton. What does that mean?

It's huge. It's going to be a rough crowd. They've done a great job over there of drawing a lot of fans. It also gets us ready for the rest of the Big Ten season.

Playing in front of a crowd like that, does that get you pumped up or is it intimidating?

I don't think it's intimidating. You can use it to your benefit, too. Nothing is better than to make a crowd like that be quiet. I wish we could emulate some of that here in Iowa City.

Is it tough to go there and see 10,000 people and come back here and see 3,000?

Yeah it is. We deserve that right, too, to have fans come. But we'll get there. The year that we're going to have this year, I really hope that we can get there and do that.

What does it take to be a good road team?

You really just have to take care of the ball. And we really need to go out with intense defense.

What is different about Iowa State from last year?

They're a good team. They don't have a lot of super stars. It's similar to us. They're going to play their zone defense and they're going to shoot the ball well. Those are the things that we need to take care of.

Can you talk about your last game against Erica Junod?

It's been a long battle. We played against each other since I was probably in fifth grade. I'm excited. I have a lot of respect for her. She's a great player. It's a little hard to believe that it's the last go around.

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