June 2013

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Depth has been key for the Hawkeyes throughout the years, and Bluder smiles when saying, "Sometimes we laugh and say it's smoke and mirrors a little bit," when referring to the postseason runs. "We pride ourselves on balance — not only balance in scoring, but a balanced team that if one person is out for some reason with injury or sickness — that you are going to be able to regroup and be able to have the luxury of continuing a successful game or a successful season." Look for bigger things in the near future from the four-member group of sophomores-to-be. In their first seasons, Kali Peschel played 13 Big Ten games (5.2 minutes per game), Kayla Timmerman played 12 (5.3), Claire Till played five (1.8) and Nicole Smith played one (one minute). "Those four are very motivated and they had a great spring," Bluder said. "There will be big jumps with some of those kids, and they will be a big surprise to people because I think people have forgotten about them or not counted them into the mix." The names of Hawkeye student-athletes who have contributed to the six-year NCAA ride are a Who's Who of the greatest in program history: Kachine Alexander, Kristi Smith, Johanna Solverson, Wendy Ausdemore, Kamille Wahlin, Megan Skouby. Smoke and mirrors? Hardly. Bluder and her staff have become proficient in replacing players who have graduated, and unfortunately, players who have left the program because of injury. Bluder is the first to say she is fortunate to have kept her outstanding assistant coaches together for so long. "I have had the pleasure of having (associate head coach) Jan (Jensen) and (assistant coach) Jenni (Fitzgerald) with me for 21 years and (assistant coach) Shannon (Gage) for eight years, so we have the most stable coaching staff in the Big Ten," Bluder said. "I am very lucky. I give them a lot of responsibility, Iowa treats them well, and in return they are very loyal to our program and they want to see us get to that next level." The next level and logical subsequent step for the Hawkeyes is a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament and a Sweet 16 appearance for the first time since 1996. During the last six seasons, Iowa has been a No. 6 seed 24 Lisa Bluder celebrates with players and staff March 18, 2013, after it was announced that the Hawkeye women's basketball team would make a sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. (Photo by Darren Miller) once, a No. 8 seed twice, and a No. 9 seed three times. That means five of the last six seasons, the winner of Iowa's first-round game could play the top-seeded team in the second round. In 2010, the Hawkeyes took on No. 2 Stanford in the second round; this season they played No. 2 Notre Dame in the second round. "We have to get off that 8-9 seed," Bluder said. "It's nearly impossible when you're facing the No. 1 seed in the second round like we have done so many times during our career at Iowa." For Bluder, it is an Iowa career that includes seven 20-win seasons, three Big Ten Conference and two WBCA Regional Coach of the Year awards, a Big Ten Conference Tournament championship (2001), and a share of the 2008-09 Big Ten Conference regularseason championship. Still, she indicates that there is unfinished business. And while a magician uses smoke and mirrors to deceive, Bluder and her staff make a habit of pulling whatever it takes out of a hat to win games. That's a performance expected to play once again inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the 2013-14 season. SEASON 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 W-L 21-13 19-12 22-9 20-14 21-11 21-11 NCAA TOURNAMENT SITE Iowa City, Iowa South Bend, Ind. Spokane, Wash. Stanford, Calif. Iowa City, Iowa Norfolk, Va.

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