IOWA CITY — To many Easterners, Iowa is a “flyover state.” Count Megan Gebbia among them.
“My initial reaction (after the NCAA women’s basketball selections were made Monday) was, ‘Wow, Iowa, I’ve never been there,’” said Gebbia, second-year coach at American University.
She’ll be here sometime today, when the Eagles arrive for preparations for their NCAA debut.
Workouts and press conferences are Thursday, then American (24-8) will face the 15th-ranked Hawkeyes (24-7) in a first-round game at 1:30 Friday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
In the day’s first game, at 11 a.m., Washington (23-9) meets Miami, Fla. (19-12).
“I think it’s big for our team, just to have the experience and know what it’s like to play in front of a crowd like that on a big stage,” Gebbia said. “You hope that they learn from this and move on, and in years to come, it’s not so foreign.”
American earned its first NCAA bid by claiming the Patriot League championship. The Eagles are 46-18 in two seasons under Gebbia, who had served as associate head coach at Marist the previous 10 years.
“It’s just kind of ironic because Marist played (at Iowa) the first round last year, and that’s my former team and former boss (Brian Giorgis),” Gebbia said Monday. “I’m sure I’ll be talking to him in the next day or two about what he tried to do. It’s just a difficult place to play, because they draw a lot of fans, it’ll be really loud in there.”
American comes to Iowa City on an 11-game winning streak. The Eagles are led by Jen Dumiak, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, who averages 16.9 points per game and ranks 15th nationally in assists at 6.2 per game.
Iowa’s Samantha Logic rates third in assists at 8.0 per game.
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Logic and senior classmates Melissa Dixon and Bethany Doolittle have helped push the Hawkeyes to their eighth consecutive NCAA berth. Their No. 3 seed is the best since 1996, also the last time they reached the Sweet 16.
“We know that Iowa is a great, competitive team and we’re just excited for this experience and the opportunity,” said American freshman Emily Kinneston.
Gebbia said, “It’s just one of those things where we have to make sure we have all of our ducks in a row and we’re ready to go.”
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