IOWA CITY — Before trying on its new national ranking for size tonight at Illinois, the 24th-rated Iowa women’s basketball team has gotten in a little target practice.
“People are going to come at us with a different intensity, a different attitude, and we have to be ready for that,” center Morgan Johnson said. “I know how we’ve gotten up when we’ve played rated teams. We’re the ones with the target on our backs now.”
Iowa put itself in that position with a win at Michigan on Sunday, improving to 6-0 in games this season against rated teams.
Coach Lisa Bluder considers it to be the most significant of her team’s top-25 wins because it was the Hawkeyes’ first true road win over a rated opponent.
“We’ve gotten our top-25 wins on our home court, on neutral courts, but to get one on the road I think was good for our confidence going back out on the road,” Bluder said.
The Hawkeyes (16-5, 5-2 Big Ten) share third place in the Big Ten standings and Bluder considers this to be one of the most complete teams she has coached in her 13 seasons at Iowa.
“We have all the parts that you need in a good, competitive basketball team,” Bluder said. “We have good height. We have a great inside presence with Morgan and Bethany (Doolittle) that keeps getting better and better. We have a very good point guard (in Samantha Logic) and we’ve got 3-point shooters, so I do think we have all the components you need.”
Bluder believes the Hawkeyes have the experience to handle their first AP ranking since 2011, a situation Iowa has flirted with throughout the season.
She believes a four-point loss at home to Michigan following a win over Ohio State cost her team an early entry into the poll. Iowa has won four of its past five games since.
“We’ve always had a little trouble getting respect,” Bluder said. “I think we’ve finally put together a resumé which couldn’t be overlooked. Now it’s up to us to put in the work we need to stay there.”