IOWA CITY — Amanda Ollinger took a postgame stroll down the Carver-Hawkeye Arena tunnel Thursday night, a bright smile across her face.
She was almost glowing.
“When you see Amanda this season, you see a different woman,” Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder said. “The joy she’s playing with, the maturity, the confidence level ... her transformation is one of my favorite things about this season.”
And that’s saying something. The list of high points about this team is a long one for the 20th-ranked Hawkeyes (19-4, 10-2 Big Ten), who take a share of the Big Ten lead to Purdue (15-9, 6-6) for Sunday’s game.
Tipoff is 1 p.m. (CT) at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind.
A senior from Cedar Rapids, Ollinger has seen an enhanced role this season, and she has taken advantage. The 6-foot-1 forward is averaging 8.7 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game. Her primary role is to defend and to hit the boards on both ends.
“An opportunity opened up for me this season,” she said. “There are so many roles you don’t see all the time, and they all shape you as a person.”
Ollinger posted 11 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in the Hawkeyes’ 76-60 win over Nebraska on Thursday. Thus, the glow.
“I just think a lot of stress is off now for her,” Bluder said. “She’s at a really good place in her life right now.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
An engineering major, Ollinger already has a job and a house in her hometown awaiting her upon graduation.
All of Ollinger’s numbers have gradually increased throughout her Iowa career. The most marked improvement is in her shooting accuracy, from 31.8 percent as a freshman to 41.5, then 46.7, and now at 57.0 percent as a senior. She’s not prolific, but she’s efficient.
In Mackey, the Hawkeyes will be facing one of their most challenging road environments, historically. But the Boilermakers are just 3-3 at home in Big Ten play this season.
Purdue is a veteran team led by seniors Ae’Rianna Harris and Dominique Oden and junior Karissa McLaughlin.
“They’re a very good team,” Bluder said. “Very talented.”
Iowa is coming off one of its most complete Big Ten efforts. The Hawkeyes pulled away from a three-point halftime lead against Nebraska.
“I was really happy with our rebounding,” Bluder said. “It had been a soure of contention; we had been giving up too many offensive boards, too many shot attempts.”
Comments: (319) 368-8857; firstname.lastname@example.org