Indiana Daily Student

New coach takes over struggling Iowa program

Three-time MVC coach of the year moves from Drake to Hawkeyes

IU's Kathi Bennett is not the only new women's coach in the Big Ten this season.\nIn fact, she's not the only one to jump from the Missouri Valley Conference. She's not even the most-decorated coach to move up from the MVC.\nIowa's Lisa Bluder holds that distinction.\nThe three-time MVC Coach of the Year moved from Drake, to Iowa City, three hours northeast, to take over a struggling Big Ten program -- a move similar to Bennett's.\n "It's kind of comforting to know someone is coming into a new league from the same place," Bluder said. "We're going through new things together, and although we haven't called each other and spoke about it, it's just good to know someone is going through the same growing pains you are."\n And that's not where the similarities and connections between the two coaches end. Bluder was the fifth youngest coach to reach 300 victories in January 1998 at the hands of Bennett in a Drake win over Evansville, Bennett's former school.\n Like Bennett, Bluder is taking over a program that returns all five starters from last year's 9-18 squad. With the new coach and her new style, the return of all Iowa's major scorers and a storied tradition, the Hawkeyes have big expectations for Bluder's first season of Big Ten basketball.\n"We're excited about the season," senior guard Cara Consuegra said. "We think we can surprise some people, but a lot depends on how well we can adjust and continue to adjust.\n"An NCAA tournament berth is not out of the picture."\nThe Hawkeyes are led by the explosive backcourt pair of junior Lindsey Meder and Consuegra, who combined for 34 points per game last season. Meder, who averaged more than 19 points in her sophomore season was named to the second team of the All-Big Ten team.\nFive games into this season, her third, Meder has already broken the school mark for three-pointers in a career. She is averaging just under 19 points a game this season.\nMeder is excited about Bluder's new offense, which will teach her to get her teammates more involved. \n"The offense is a big change this season," Meder said. "We run a triangle, and there's so many different things you can do off of that. We will really need to read defenses.\n"I think the new offense is going to give us a lot more balanced scoring. Balance will be the key this year. It's so much easier to worry about two people than to have to worry about five. That's our job, to step up and get everyone involved."\nConsuegra was also a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season. She was second in the Big Ten averaging over five assists a game and third in the conference with a 81.9 free throw percentage.\nConsuegra has struggled this season, shooting 35 percent from the field, while averaging 10 points. Her assists have not dropped in the team's first five games resulting in a 3-2 record.\nAfter opening with an impressive win against Marquette, Iowa almost shocked No. 8 Iowa State, losing a tough game, 86-76.\n"There's no timetable," Bluder said. "It takes a while and I think everyone realizes that. However, with this bunch here at a program of the caliber of the University of Iowa's, I think we can get it done faster than maybe some people would expect"

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