Iowa sophomore center Amanda Ollinger poses for a portrait during the women's basketball media in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Women’s basketball hopes to rebound back into tournament picture

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Controlling the rebounding battle is of paramount importance this season for the Iowa women’s basketball team.

By Jordan Zuniga
jordan-zuniga@uiowa.edu

Conventional wisdom suggests that points are the most important in basketball; after all, the team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

But Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder might argue that rebounds are the most important statistic.

“Rebounds are extra possessions,” Bluder said. “They’re such an important stat; it’s one of the first stats I look at.”

An extra possession for a team such as the Hawkeyes is usually bad news for their opponents, but with a three-guard lineup, it puts extra pressure on the forwards to get rebounds.

As mentioned by Bluder, in the Iowa’s lone exhibition game, two forwards in particular were extraordinarily active on the glass.

Amanda Ollinger and Chase Coley each finished the game with 10 rebounds. Megan Gustafson chipped in with 5 boards, and Hannah Stewart and Carly Mohns had 4 each.

Meaning Iowa outrebounded Minnesota State-Moorhead, 48-39.

Coley, a senior forward, said Bluder’s emphasis on rebounds in practice is what led to the great rebounding night.

“Coach Bluder kind of gets on me in practice about rebounding,” Coley said after the game. “So I went out there tonight, so I focused on that tonight and am going to focus on that the rest of the season.”

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Controlling the rebounding battle was a huge indicator of Iowa’s success (or lack) last season.

Last season when the Hawkeyes were outrebounded, they were 6-8. When they outrebounded their opponent, however, their record leaped to 13-6.

Rebounding will certainly be an important aspect this upcoming weekend in the Hawkeye Challenge. The Hawkeyes may have enjoyed being the victors of the rebounding battle in their exhibition game, but the teams they will face this weekend are much more skilled.

Two of the three teams competing in the Hawkeye Challenge made the NCAA Tournament last season, including No. 16 Missouri and Iowa’s first opponent, Quinnipiac, which made it to the Sweet 16.

However, the elevation of the competition doesn’t worry these Hawkeyes. They see it as a time to grow and prepare for the rigorous Big Ten slate.

“Testing yourself against teams that were where you wanted to be at the end of the season is always a good idea at the beginning of the year,” sophomore Kathleen Doyle said. “Especially if you get a win, you can build confidence and continue growing as a team before Big Ten play begins.”

The Hawkeyes’ next game is 5 p.m. Friday in Carver-Hawkeye against Quinnipiac, which lost to eventual national champion South Carolina in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

That game will be the kickoff of the Hawkeye Challenge, which will continue into Saturday. The Hawkeyes will take on either No. 16 Missouri or Western Kentucky at 4:30 p.m.

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