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March 21, 2009
Iowa women's basketball notebook
IOWA CITY -- Wendy Ausdemore did not fall for the bait.
The Iowa senior gave the diplomatic answer when asked to comment on Oklahoma All-American center Courtney Paris' guarantee to repay her athletic scholarship if the Sooners fail to win the national championship.
"We have to take care of Georgia Tech first and they've got to take care of Prairie View," Ausdemore said. "She's a great player and they're a great team."
Eighth-seeded Iowa (21-10) and top-seeded Oklahoma (28-4) could meet in an NCAA tournament second-round game Tuesday night. The Sooners open with 16th-seeded Prairie View A&M Sunday night at 6 PM, followed by the Hawkeyes and ninth-seeded Georgia Tech.
Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder admitted she was surprised to hear about Paris' promise.
"You don't know the context it was spoken in," Bluder said. "You know a lot of players and a lot of coaches say things. Sometimes they say things in just, sometimes not. I think it's fun for all of you (reporters) to play with."
Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale shifted the focus away from her star player's statement.
"We are a No. 1 seed and it is so hard to become a No. 1 seed," Coale said. "This team has committed itself to working in such a way that we might earn this No. 1 seed. I would like our team to celebrate that. That puts us in a great position in this NCAA tournament, but it promises us nothing."
As of Saturday afternoon, over 4,000 tickets had been sold for the first-round games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
That figure is close to Bluder's expectations.
"I think we will have a lot of walk-ups. I was hoping we would get around 5,000 here for this game," Bluder said.
The old JoAnn Hamlin is back ... almost. Bluder is excited about Hamlin's preparation for the NCAA tournament - two months after spraining her left ankle in practice.
Hamlin, a 6-foot-3 junior forward-center, missed five straight games after suffering the injury Jan. 22. Upon her return, she has come off the bench, failing to reach double figures in either scoring or rebounding.
"I think it's close to 100 percent. We haven't even talked about it for a long time," Bluder said. "She had a very powerful week of practice. She's taking the ball to the hole a lot more aggressively."
Hamlin wasn't quite as upbeat as her coach about her progress.
"Once you're out for a couple weeks, it's hard to get back into things," Hamlin said. "I still have a little bit of pain, so I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent. I feel better."