Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Iowa Hawkeyes gathered at Lisa Bluder's house for a team meal Saturday night.
Bluder wasn't cooking, but said that chicken and lasagna would be on the menu.
The Hawkeyes are hopeful that it wasn't their Last Supper as a team.
"I hope we come out and win this first one so we have a chance to play again at home," senior guard Jaime Printy said.
Iowa plays host of an NCAA women's basketball tournament for the first time since 2009; the ninth-seeded Hawkeyes (20-12) entertain No. 8 seed Miami, Fla. (21-10).
Tipoff is scheduled for about 6:30 Sunday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"It's great to be at home; it's pretty special," Bluder said. "(Saturday) afternoon was kind of weird. I'm at home cleaning my kitchen, not sure if that's what most coaches are doing at NCAA tournament time."
The Hawkeyes are making their 10th NCAA appearance in Bluder's 13 years and their 22nd overall. Printy and senior classmates Morgan Johnson and Trisha Nesbitt don't want the Hawkeyes to go one-and-done, and they did in 2011 and 2012.
"We are excited to play (this) game and as seniors we want to go out of this building (with wins)," Johnson said. "One at a time, but we are excited for them both."
Sunday's winner will likely face top-seeded, No. 2-ranked Notre Dame (31-1) in a second-round game Tuesday night. The Fighting Irish meet Tennessee-Martin (19-14) in a first-rounder at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Both teams will be playing their first game in 16 days.
"We had so much time off where we can have our team chemistry and get better individually, and just enjoy the moment before we get in the game," said Miami's Morgan Stroman. "Then you have that anxiety where you are just so ready to play again."
Judging by records and seeds, it's a coin-flip game. And the team that shakes its rust and finds its identity first is bound to be successful.
Miami is a rugged defensive outfit, allowing 58.9 points per game.
"We need to play the style of basketball we like to play and get each other involved and really have variety in our offense," Printy said. "They also like to press a lot, and we have been working on that a lot this week, breaking the press and taking care of the ball.
"I think that will be huge this game."
Iowa weathered a rough late-season stretch, in which it lost five straight games. The Hawkeyes answered with four wins in six games to reach the NCAA for the sixth straight year.
They face a team capable of rising up and playing extremely well. Miami has two big signature wins -- against top-10 teams Duke and Penn State.
"There's no question in those particular games, in which we outplayed our ranking, we were tough as nails," said Miami coach Katie Meier.
Both teams have a quality post. The 6-foot-5 Johnson leads the Hawkeyes in scoring at 14.8 points per game; Miami's Shawnice Wilson (9.9 ppg) is 6-6.
Johnson was seen in a boot when she attended the Iowa men's NIT game Friday night.
She practiced with little limitation Saturday.
"Everything's completely fine," Johnson said. "It's just totally precautionary. Everything's good."
MIAMI, Fla. (21-10) vs. IOWA (20-12)
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
Tipoff: 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Radio: WMT-AM (600), KXIC-AM (800), WHO-AM (1040)
How Miami qualified: At-large berth. Hurricanes tied for fourth in the ACC. Miami coach: Katie Meier (8th year at Miami, 147-105; 12th year overall). Key Miami players: F Morgan Stroman (6-1, sr., 12.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.7 spg), G Stefanie Yderstrom (5-8, sr., 12.0 ppg, 2.4 apg, .377 3FG%, .880 FT%), C Shawnice Wilson (6-6, sr., 9.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, .524 FG%).
How Iowa qualified: At-large bid. Finished seventh in the Big Ten at 8-8. Iowa coach: Lisa Bluder (13th year at Iowa, 250-156; 29th year overall, 606-298). Key Iowa players: C Morgan Johnson (6-5, sr., 14.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.0 bpg, .530 FG%), G Jaime Printy (5-11, sr., 12.9 ppg, 3.2 apg, .921 FT%), G Samantha Logic (5-9, soph., 9.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 6.5 apg, 1.9 spg).