IOWA CITY — Lisa Bluder and Jim Flanery will meet Saturday in Los Angeles.
They have collided before in Chicago. Literally.
It’s Bluder’s story, so we’ll let her tell it:
“It was Nike Nationals (an AAU summer tournament) in 2016, and (assistant) Jan (Jensen) and I were taking a cab to a restaurant in Chicago. Our cab smashed into another car.”
That car belonged to Flanery, the coach at Creighton.
“Jim was driving, and our cab got him really good,” Bluder said. “Everybody was OK.
“We took him out with a cab driver, now we hope to take him out of the NCAA.”
The Hawkeyes (24-7) face Creighton (18-12) in a 6-vs.-11 first-round game of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament Saturday. Tipoff is 5 p.m. (Iowa time) at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Ninth-ranked UCLA (24-7) meets American (26-6) in the preceding game at 2:30. Winners play Monday.
Bluder and Flanery go back a lot longer than their unfortunate meeting in Chicago.
“I’ve known Jim 25 years,” Bluder said. “Back when he was an assistant for Connie (Yori) at Creighton and I was at Drake.”
Back then, Creighton and Drake were Missouri Valley Conference rivals, and two of the top programs in the league.
“Creighton ... they do things the right way,” Bluder said. “We do have a good relationship. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t set up (a closed) scrimmage every year.
“They work hard. They’re excellent coaches.”
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Flanery is in his 16th year at Creighton, owning a 311-203 record. Under his watch, the Bluejays are making their fourth NCAA appearance (with 10 WNIT bids).
The Hawkeyes and the Bluejays have become annual scrimmage partners recently. So there’s familiarity there, even though the teams haven’t played for real in more than a decade.
“It’s kind of unusual,” Bluder said. “This time of year, you’re typically preparing for somebody you haven’t seen. A lot of our kids know some of their kids personally.”
Creighton is a guard-oriented squad, and Iowa’s identity comes in the post. Namely, Megan Gustafson, who has earned multiple all-American honors. The junior averages 25.6 points and 12.7 rebounds per game, which rank No. 1 and No. 5 nationally.
“They’re all guards, and that’s a little bit of an issue,” Bluder said. “I hope they have an issue with us ... they don’t have anybody to match up with Megan.”
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