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Video & Transcript: Hawkeyes Preparing for Tough Missouri Squad

March 23, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

LISA BLUDER: I mean, we’re glad to be here today. I
mean, only 32 are standing now, and so we’re glad that
we’re one of them. You know, we don’t feel like we
played maybe our best game of the year yesterday, and
that’s probably okay. We survived, we moved on, and
we’re forgetting about that and moving on to our full
focus on Missouri. I heard Robin after the game say
she didn’t think her team played the best game, either.
I think both of us are going to have our teams ready to
go tomorrow.

Missouri obviously a very good defensive team, good
defense, and good three-point defense. Cunningham
is just so much to handle. She is a terrific All-American
type player, but this is a team that I know that we’re
going to have to have an incredible focus tomorrow and
it’s going to be a lot more physical than it was
yesterday, and we’re going to have to be able to be
mentally strong as well as physically strong tomorrow.

Q. Megan, I’m assuming you’re used to seeing
doubles and triples like you saw against Mercer
yesterday, but it looked pretty physical. Was that
something you were also used to or something you
had to fight through in that game?

MEGAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, you know, seeing double
and triple teams being physical is something I’ve been
used to all year long, and so I think especially in the
Big Ten conference they’ve been very physical, and I
think it’s prepared me well, especially going into this
postseason play.

Q. Megan, what are your thoughts on Sophie
Cunningham, and how hard of a guard is she?

MEGAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, she’s a really good
player. She’s a tall guard, too, and that’s always hard
to have. It’s one thing if you’re a really good guard, but
if you have length and size, that’s pretty hard. Again,
hats off to her, she’s a great player, and we’re going to
have to be ready on her defensively.
Q. Megan, you mentioned Sophie, but when you
combine Sophie with Cierra obviously coming in
halfway through the season, how much do you
think the addition of Cierra gives them a different

MEGAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, it’s kind of a one-two
punch there, so we’ve got to be ready for that. They
both work pretty well together. Again, we just have to
be ready, be prepared and to be able to play our
principles defensively. They’re both really longer,
especially guard, and then post, she’s about 6’4″, so
we’ve got to be ready for that play, and just be ready for
that match-up.

Q. Megan, you’re one of three senior starters. This
is really your last game at Carver-Hawkeye
tomorrow. Have you thought about that?
Obviously you would like to go out with a win.
Have you thought about this being your last game?

MEGAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I’ve thought about it a
little bit. I think I’m just going to go into it like any other
game, preparing for it and not really wanting to think
about that. But at the same time I’m going to play my
heart out and I know my teammates are, and it’s going
to be a lot more sweeter when we get a win, and so
then it won’t be as sad not having to play in Carver

Q. Kathleen, yesterday Mercer was able to apply a
lot of pressure and force turnovers. How do you
remedy that going into a match-up against
Missouri tomorrow?

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KATHLEEN DOYLE: Yeah, I think just being a triple
threat is really important, and like Coach said it’s going
to be even more of a physical game, so us guards
need to be prepared out on the perimeter staying in
triple threat and making sure we have all of our

Q. Kathleen, I know down the stretch of that game
you were pretty pumped, kind of pumping up the
crowd. Do you imagine that same type of
atmosphere for tomorrow’s game?

KATHLEEN DOYLE: He yeah, we have the best fans in
the country so I’m assuming they’re going to come out
in full force for us, and we really appreciate all of them
coming out all year long, and I really don’t doubt that
that will happen again.

Q. You mentioned Sophie Cunningham already, but
I don’t know if you can kind of talk a little bit more
about the challenges she gives different defenses
when you kind of watch her in that game and watch
her on tape?

LISA BLUDER: Yeah, she can just score in so many
different ways. She’s shooting 50 percent from the
three-point line, range, but she’ll beat you off the drive.
They do a great job of setting ball screens for her and
getting her open for the drive, and then she can postup and do a great job drawing fouls on the block. So
she is a very tough assignment. Yeah, just a really
good — and you know, senior. She’s got all this
experience. She’s been playing there since her
freshman year she’s been a starter, and obviously just
like all seniors, they don’t want to see their seasons
come to an end right now, so they play with a little
different urgency.

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Q. Having coached Robin and having her on her
staff a while ago, is there any traits you can see
from your teams in Missouri that maybe carried
over that maybe Robin got from spending some
time with you?

LISA BLUDER: No, I really don’t. I mean, that was 30
years ago. I mean, that’s a long time ago. I think we’ve
both changed quite a bit in so many ways during that
amount of time. I will say that I think she coaches the
same way she plays. She was tenacious. I mean, she
was an undersized 4 that was just really, really good in
the post area. I mean, she had terrific post moves, and
you see her niece doing the same thing and just really
see teaches post play so well. But I’m really impressed
with their defense. I think she’s done a really, really
good job defensively with this team.

Q. Lisa, if you could, the three seniors playing their
last game at Carver-Hawkeye tomorrow, what they
have meant to this program? I know it’s not an
easy question to answer, but a Cliff’s Notes version

LISA BLUDER: Yeah, you know, it’s been nice that
we’ve been able to have two more games in Carver,
and I know a lot of people around the country don’t get
to do that. Their senior night is actually their last night.
So it was nice for us to be able to have two more
opportunities to play in front of our home crowd, which
I thought yesterday was just terrific. I mean, it had to
be one of the best environments in the nation
yesterday for the preliminary rounds.

They were wonderful, and I know they’re going to come
out again tomorrow, and they’re coming out because
they love this team. They’re coming out because
they’re great Hawkeye supporters, and they’re coming
out because of these three seniors.

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But Tania, it’s been said so many times, but what she’s
meant to our team as far as her resilience, her just
amazing way to bounce back after ACL, ACL, and to
continue to go through the grind just so that she can
put a Hawkeye uniform on when she could have
copped out on that. She could have just given up and
just taken her scholarship, but she wanted to represent
Iowa. She wanted to play in this NCAA Tournament so
badly. So I love it for her.

And for Hannah, just having such a different path than
Megan and Tania in that she didn’t play much as a
freshman, and a lot of kids bail on that. A lot of kids
don’t stick around if they’re not getting the minutes;
they’re hitting the road. She didn’t. She loved the
University of Iowa. She knew she could get better.
She kept a positive attitude. She was voted a captain
last year, and even as a junior she didn’t have a
starting role, but she excelled coming in at the 4 and
the 5 and backing up both of those positions. So
coming into this year and having a starting position,
being rewarded for all that positive energy, just
amazing. Again, you couldn’t script it any better.

And then Megan, you know, I’ve run out of ways to
describe that kid. But I know she’s been one of the
easiest stars I’ve ever coached. She’s been one of the
most — the least drama kids that I’ve ever coached.
She’s given me no issues whatsoever. She’s an
absolute joy. You know, she deserves to go out of here
with a win, and that’s what we’re going to hope to give
her tomorrow, although we know it’s going to be very

That wasn’t really a Reader’s Digest version.

Q. How much easier is it when your star player is
as humble and unassuming as Megan is?

LISA BLUDER: It’s so much easier because she’s the
hardest worker on the team, so she’s setting the
example, and then when you’re that hard of a worker,
nobody is jealous of your success because you’ve
worked for it, and they’ve seen how hard she’s worked
for it, so that’s not even an issue. And then when
you’re the first one to be such a great teammate, to
spend time with your teammates, to be humble. I call
her an all-American with no ego. She’s confident
because she’s worked hard but she has no ego. It’s
easy to be around those type of people, right? It’s
easy to be around people that don’t think they’re great
when they are. And so she has just been marvelous to
coach, and I just hope I get to coach her for another

Q. Just when you were coaching Robin in college,
did it ever cross your mind, did you ever think or
maybe even hope to face her or any of your players one day in as big of a game as tomorrow?

LISA BLUDER: I mean, no way. You can’t even dream
that, right? You just — you never have those kind of
thoughts that this kid could some day be a BCS coach
at an SEC school, doing so well that they’re in the top
32 in the country. I mean, you can’t think that type of
story. That’s just unbelievable. And she’s done a great
job with it.

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