IOWA CITY — Lisa Bluder scarcely recognized her team Thursday.
“We didn’t come out with any pizazz at all,” Bluder said about Iowa’s 86-84 loss at Indiana. “It looked like they wanted to play the game, get on the plane and come home.
“We went through the motions, and Indiana played with the spirit we’re used to seeing from Iowa basketball.”
The renewal of “pizazz” is essential for the 23rd-ranked Hawkeyes (12-3 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) to avoid an 0-2 league start.
Maggie Lucas and No. 17 Penn State (9-3, 0-0) come to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday; tipoff is 2 p.m.
“We can’t change (the Indiana outcome), as much as I wish we could,” said Iowa guard Samantha Logic. “We’ve just got to play better (Sunday). We’ve got to defend a lot better.”
In Lucas, a senior guard, the Lady Lions possess one of the Big Ten’s elite players. She is averaging 21.1 points per game and has missed only two free throws in 78 attempts.
“If she’s not the best in the league, she’s in the top two,” Logic said. “She’s a tough guard. She can shoot the crap out of the ball. She’s a really good player, and they feed off her — as they should.”
Lucas, according to Bluder, is a far more complete player than when she set foot in Happy Valley.
“When she came to Penn State, she was a great shooter,” Bluder said. “Now she’s a great basketball player. She’s developed a complete game.
“She came in as an average athlete and was a defensive liability. Now she’s stronger, leaner and quicker.”
Two of Penn State’s defeats came at the hands of the nation’s top-level teams — Connecticut and Notre Dame. The Lady Lions have won three straight after a head-scratching loss at South Dakota State.
It’s far too early to designate anything as a “must-win,” but Thursday’s stumble at Indiana does raise the importance of Sunday’s game.
“Now, we’ve really got to win,” said Iowa’s Melissa Dixon. “We started off flat at Indiana and didn’t have much energy. We have to learn from that and fight back.”