It seems like a little thing.
Iowa women's basketball coach Lisa Bluder said in every practice, her players do the passing on shooting drills, not the coaches.
“Celebrate the assist,” said Bluder, the Hawkeyes’ coach. “‘If I can set my teammate up for a great shot, that’s just as fun as me taking an average shot.’ And they buy into it. When you have players buy into that philosophy, it’s a fun style.”
Iowa had a lot to celebrate in Tuesday’s 108-72 win over Illinois at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes, who came into the game leading the Big Ten and ranking sixth nationally in assists, had 34 assists on 39 field goals, setting a program record for points in a game.
“I love to see those numbers, just the distribution and working for good shots,” Bluder said.
The Hawkeyes now have assists on 74 percent of their field goals this season, which leads the nation.
“I feel like it’s near impossible (to defend),” said guard Amanda Ollinger, who had six assists to go with her first career double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds. “You never know where the ball is going to go. Our team is so unselfish, and we care so much about one another and want each other to do well. So I think that’s what really drives us.”
“There was beautiful passing out there, which is fun,” Bluder said. “That’s what gets our team going. We get excited about passing really well and having pretty basketball.”
Iowa shot 65 percent from the field, 73 percent in the first half.
Kathleen Doyle led the Hawkeyes with a career-high 33 points. Monika Czinano had 16 points and Makenzie Meyer had 15.
“Any time you have a scoring record against a Big Ten opponent, that’s a pretty good offensive night for you,” Bluder said. “We shot the ball well. Four people in double figures, I love to see that balance.”
She went back to the assist total.
“Thirty-four assists,” Bluder said. “I love to see those numbers. Just the distribution and working for good shots.”
Iowa had assists on its first 10 field goals, building a 27-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Then Doyle took over. She had 16 second-quarter points, including Iowa’s final seven points, and the Hawkeyes led 57-38 at halftime.
Asked what got her going in this game, Doyle said, “I don’t even know. Everyone was just moving the ball and executing. I just happened to be the one scoring. We were just clicking.”
That’s something that Hawkeyes didn’t do in Saturday’s 78-69 loss at Nebraska.
Bluder wouldn’t deem this a perfect game. But she thought it was a good response to the loss to the Huskers.
“It was pretty good,” she said. “There is no perfection in basketball, obviously. We really clicked on offense tonight. I’m really proud of our women, because we did not click at Nebraska.”
“Obviously, that one stung,” Doyle said. “Like Coach Bluder said, we have to bounce back. The season is long. There’s a long time to improve, but it has to happen every day.”