IOWA CITY — It’s not Lisa Bluder’s call.
If it was, Makenzie Meyer would be on the court when the Iowa Hawkeyes face Minnesota in a Big Ten women’s basketball game Sunday.
As it is ...
“There’s a chance she’ll play,” Bluder said Friday. “We’ll see. I’m cautiously optimistic. But this decision falls in somebody else’s hands.”
That would be Jennie Serterrh, the Hawkeyes’ trainer.
Bluder said that the most recent X-ray on Meyer’s left hand “showed improvement,” and that the sophomore guard has participated “in a small part of practice.”
Meyer has missed the last six games since breaking a bone in the hand in practice Dec. 27. In her absence, the Hawkeyes’ outside shooting fortunes have suffered; they are hitting 27 percent from 3-point range in Big Ten play, including 0-for-7 against Nebraska on Tuesday.
As a result, 20th-ranked Iowa (15-4 overall, 3-3 Big Ten) has dropped three of its last four games. They’ll try to stop the slide at 3 p.m. Sunday at Williams Arena.
“I’m very proud of the resilience the team has showed,” Bluder said. “The players haven’t stopped fighting.
“When we get (Meyer) back, we’re going to be a better team. It hurts when you don’t have 40 percent of your starting lineup on the floor. You know you’re not going to be as good of a team.”
If Meyer plays, Bluder said it will be with a brace, possibly for the next three weeks or so.
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The Hawkeyes have been without point guard Tania Davis since mid-December with a torn ACL, and she’ll miss the remainder of the season. Since Meyer’s injury, it’s as if the Hawkeyes are entering a chess match without a rook and a bishop. It’s possible to win, but it’s difficult.
Minnesota (15-5, 4-3) has won three of its last four games. The Gophers are an explosive outfit; their 85.6 points per game ranks No. 6 nationally.
Junior Kenisha Bell leads the Gophers at 19.6 points per game; senior Karlie Wagner is next at 17.9.
Iowa counters with junior post Megan Gustafson, who ranks third nationally in scoring (23.8 points per game) and rebounding (12.9 per game).
Amanda Ollinger, a sophomore from Cedar Rapids, “played her best game as an Iowa Hawkeye” against Nebraska, according to Bluder, compiling 12 points and eight rebounds.
Bluder was asked if that performance was Ollinger’s breakthrough.
“Hey, I hope so,” Bluder said. “I really hope so.”
Sunday marks the final trip home for Iowa senior Chase Coley, a Minneapolis native who is familiar with a good share of the Minnesota roster.
“It’s fun to play against your friends,” she said.
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