There’s a lot to like about where the Iowa women’s basketball team sits at the midpoint of its Big Ten schedule.
Off to a 16-4 start, the Hawkeyes are ranked 13th in the nation and are riding a five-game winning streak while preparing for today’s 5 p.m. game at Michigan.
Iowa takes the court at Crisler Arena at 7-2 in the Big Ten, sitting one game behind league-leading Rutgers in the standings and sharing second place in the conference with a Maryland team which visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena next month.
Coach Lisa Bluder is good with all of that, but she also wants the Hawkeyes to remember where they started.
"I don’t want us to get caught up in any hype ...," Bluder said Wednesday. "We’ve done a really good job of maintaining an even keel and staying focused on the task at hand, and that can’t change."
Iowa plays five of its final nine regular-season games away from home, including today’s match-up with the Wolverines and a 1 p.m. game Sunday at Penn State.
Bluder counts on the Hawkeyes' experience to make a difference as the team works through the second half of its conference schedule.
With three seniors and two juniors in the starting five, Bluder believes Iowa is positioned to deal with what comes its way at home and on the road.
"We are a pretty veteran team, and that type of experience does make a difference," Bluder said. "They know what it is like to play on the road, to play a team for a second time in a season. Those kinds of things, they do matter and I feel like can be an advantage for us."
Iowa defeated Michigan 75-61 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena two weeks ago, but Bluder is quick to point out that while the Wolverines are 12-9 on the season they do have an 8-1 record at home.
"They’ve played well at home all year, but we’ve been a good road team, too," Bluder said. "We need to keep that up moving forward."
Bluder sees senior point guard Tania Davis as a difference-maker as Iowa’s looks to build on its success.
The Flint, Michigan, native averages 10.8 points and 4.9 assists per game heading into the final game of her collegiate career in her home state.
"She stays cool, calm and collected no matter what is going on around her," Bluder said, adding, "having someone like Tania in that role makes such a difference."
That type of poise will be important as Iowa is tested on the road in upcoming weeks.
In addition to the only regular-season match-ups with the Terrapins and Nittany Lions, Iowa has single games left with Ohio State and Indiana on the road and at home against Northwestern.
"I feel good about where we are at right now, but there are still challenges left," Bluder said. "Keeping those blinders on, looking at no more than one game at a time, that’s been a good approach for us, and that doesn’t change now."