The pregame blog is going up a little late today, because Iowa forgot to leave my press pass at Carver-Hawkeye Arena--and it took them a very long time to sort it out. As an Iowa native, I'm outraged
I'm in a loud and rapidly filling arena that is going to be an exceptionally hostile environment for the Gophers this afternoon. The Hawkeyes are 15-0 at home this season and have not lost here in 18 games dating to last season. The Gophers are going to have to overcome a lot to get that 23rd victory that would tie the program record. That said, their 93-80 victory over Iowa on Feb. 17 was masterful.
Coach Marlene Stollings is confident that Amanda Zahui B. will be able to handle double- and triple-teams today because of her height advantage. Iowa center Bethany Doolittle is an inch shorter and had a tough time with Zahui in the game at Williams Arena. She also said the Gophers carry lots of confidence into the game from the earlier victory, a big factor for this team.
"We know they're going to be better on their home floor,'' Stollings said of Iowa. "They've got four seniors, and it's senior day. It will be a tough environment, but I think our kids are confident in terms of the matchup.''
Shooting and defending the three-point shot will be critical today. Stollings also is looking for another step forward from freshman Carlie Wagner. "She's being defended at a higher level in the last two to four games,'' she said. "That's forcing her to go to another level quickly, which you wouldn’t typically see until her sophomore year. The physical piece, the ability to get her shot off against a tough defender, those are things we're looking at going into the tournament here.''
Iowa, by the way, has won its regular-season home finale in each of the past 10 seasons.
Enjoy the game!