116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — A day later, Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder remained agitated.
She still was rueing the Hawkeyes’ inability to get the ball inside to Monika Czinano. And the videotape supported her.
“We had 12 opportunities to get her the ball and didn’t, or we turned it over trying to get her the ball,” Bluder said Friday.
“We’ve got to be better post passers. We’ve got to get her the ball.”
Czinano took only four shots and scored a mere five points in the 10th-ranked Hawkeyes’ 94-81 loss to No. 12 North Carolina State on Thursday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Sunday provides a new day, and a fresh start. Iowa (5-3) opens Big Ten play at Wisconsin (3-6) at 1 p.m. at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
The Hawkeyes have won 25 straight games against Wisconsin, and last year’s lone encounter was an 84-50 rout at Madison.
“The past doesn’t matter,” Bluder said. “What matters is what happens Sunday.”
Each of the Big Ten teams play two early-December games, then resume non-conference action, then go back to league play for good later this month.
Iowa shared the Big Ten regular-season championship with Ohio State last year, then won the league tournament. The Hawkeyes were preseason favorites to repeat.
“Quite honestly, I haven’t thought about it,” Bluder said. “The whole picture, it’s a little daunting. It’s always a work in progress, and that’s what we have to be.”
And there’s plenty of work to be done. The Hawkeyes took a step back defensively Thursday. They were too reliant on Caitlin Clark, who scored 45 points.
“Whenever I score 40 points, we lose,” Clark said. “That’s not what I want to do.”
Iowa is 2-3 in Clark’s five games of 40-plus points throughout the last two seasons.
Bluder agreed that the Hawkeyes need to get more production out of senior guard Gabbie Marshall.
“Yeah, it’s a concern,” Bluder said of Marshall, who is averaging 5.0 points per game, shooting 31 percent from the field and 22 percent from 3-point range.
By comparison, those numbers were 9.1 ppg, 45 percent and 47 percent two years ago.
“It’s unbelievable, uncharacteristic. She’s not taking bad 3s,” Bluder said. “Sometimes she doesn’t hold her follow-through. I think she lets it get to her mentally if she doesn’t hit the first one. Shooters have to have a short memory.
“We really need her. We need her to step up. We need some outside shooting on this team.”
Despite its record and a five-game losing streak, Bluder classified Wisconsin as “much improved over last year.”
The Badgers score at a 71.6-point clip and have four players averaging in double figures, led by four-year starter Julie Pospisilova (15.1 ppg).
Sunday marks the final trip “home” for senior McKenna Warnock, who grew up in suburban Madison.
“It’s always so exciting,” she said. “Everyone wants to play where they’re from.”