IOWA CITY — Lisa Bluder is no stranger to milestones. Six times before Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, she was presented with a commemorative basketball and recognized postgame.
Yet with every eclipsing of the century mark, Bluder’s milestone gets that much more impressive.
Win No. 700, an 83-67 triumph, came against Quinnipiac to open her 18th season as head coach at Iowa and her 34th as a head coach — with stops at St. Ambrose and Drake before this. It came against a Bobcat team that won 29 games last year and ended its season with a loss to eventual champion South Carolina. It came by way of a back-and-forth affair in which the Hawkeyes couldn’t shake their visitors until late in the game.
“Why not, yeah,” Bluder said when asked about getting the win the way the Hawkeyes did. “Every game is just one game, I understand that. But anytime you have a milestone win, it just kind of gives you that time to reflect and look back and see all the people.”
Ever the focused basketball coach, Bluder talked about what it meant as a start to the season long before what it meant for her career.
She highlighted Megan Gustafson’s 28th double-double, as the junior center finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds. She highlighted Kathleen Doyle’s team-high 17 points and nine rebounds. She highlighted Alexis Sevillian's 11 points on 3 of 5 shooting from 3-point range.
She highlighted Iowa being up just one going into the fourth quarter, yet winning by 16 and scoring 28 in the final frame with 10 of 11 shooting from the free throw line to ice it.
The win was a part of the Hawkeye Challenge, with the opening game featuring Western Kentucky beating Missouri 79-76. All three of the other teams visiting Carver-Hawkeye Arena made the NCAA Tournament last year.
Bluder may have gotten win No. 700, but she jokingly questioned how she and her staff scheduled to start the year.
“That fourth quarter was pretty good,” Bluder said. “We’re not very good at scheduling sometimes. It was probably not a very good moment in time when I decided to schedule this opening tournament with such good people, but we’ve never shied away from playing against good people. We think that’s what makes you better.”
Bluder’s 700th win makes her one of 10 active women’s basketball coaches to reach that mark and one of 29 women’s coaches all time (across all NCAA divisions). Including men’s basketball, Bluder is one of 80 coaches to ever win 700.
She expressed pride in getting this milestone with the group she has now. Even if it’s a fairly young group — one senior and four juniors — they all know how important Friday was for Bluder. Gustafson, who was one of several current or former players included in a tribute video, said she enjoys being part of a program in which “she cares about us not just as basketball players but off the court, too.”
Doyle echoed her teammate. Bluder’s bunch understood the significance.
“When you have a milestone like that, it’s just super special that I get to be a part of this program and play under Coach Bluder,” Doyle said. “She’s an awesome coach and an even better lady.”
l Comments: (319) 368-8884; firstname.lastname@example.org