116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — There’s a lot to sift through here.
McKenna Warnock’s status. The Caitlin Clark incident at the end of a thrilling, exhausting overtime win.
Oh, and Iowa-Ohio State, the Big Ten women’s basketball game of the year (so far), is Monday night.
Lisa Bluder addressed them all Friday.
Tipoff between the 10th-ranked Hawkeyes (15-4, 7-1) and No. 2 Ohio State (19-0, 8-0) is 6 p.m. (CT) at Value City Arena in Columbus (ESPN2).
“Facing the No. 2 team, undefeated, at their house ... it’s a challenge to say the least,” Bluder said. “But what the heck? We’re not the favorites, but we have a heck of an opportunity.”
The Hawkeyes and the Buckeyes shared the Big Ten regular-season championship last year, with Iowa winning the league tournament.
With this the lone meeting between the teams, Iowa probably needs this one to stay in contention for another regular-season title. It’s hard to envision the Buckeyes losing two games the rest of the way, let alone three.
“It’s amazing how well they’ve played without (Jacy) Sheldon (who has played just five games due to injury, but is expected back soon),” Bluder said.
“With four players in double figures, they’re hard to guard. (Taylor) Mikesell used to be just a shooter, but she has gotten a lot better putting the ball on the ground.”
“(Cotie) McMahon might be the Big Ten freshman of the year. (Taylor) Thierry can do it all.”
Iowa is riding a four-game winning streak, including an eventful 84-81 overtime win at Michigan State on Wednesday.
“I’m so proud of this team, for handling all that adversity and coming out with a road win,” Bluder said. “McKenna was hurt. Monika (Czinano) fouled out. We weren’t shooting well from 3. They were hitting half-court shots.”
“We handled that and still won. Are you kidding me?”
Warnock suffered a rib-cage injury while absorbing a screen early in the second half. Her status for Monday?
“I don’t know for sure, but I would say she’s probably doubtful,” Bluder said. “I’ll call her day-to-day.”
If Warnock is out, Bluder said she “could go one of three ways” in the starting lineup — Sydney Affolter, Molly Davis or Hannah Stuelke.
“I don’t know if I want to put Hannah in that position yet,” she said. “We’ll wait and see.”
With 5 seconds left in overtime, Iowa leading 82-79 and set to inbound, Clark was whistled for a deadball foul. Whether it was ruled intentional, technical or flagrant, Michigan State was awarded two free throws and the ball.
The free throws were good, then the Spartans’ final possession was thwarted by a traveling call.
Two days later, Bluder said, “I don’t want to go into a lot of details. I think it’s gotten a little overblown. A lot of stuff ... Caitlin has to endure so much.”
“People were handling her, chirping at her. Every game, her arms are red from people grabbing and holding her.
“Do I wish it wouldn’t have happened? Of course. But I do think there was a lot of overreaction.”
A two-time All-American, Clark is the face of the franchise. Eyes, camera lenses and cellphone videos are on her constantly.
“She understands that people are watching. There’s a lot pressure on her,” Bluder said.
“Is there room for growth? Yes. We’ll continue to work with her.”