The Iowa women's basketball team will be back on the court tonight, after more than two weeks off it due to a COVID outbreak on the team. If they can get the victory this evening, in front of an ESPN audience, it will be a milestone night for coach Lisa Bluder.

Bluder, a graduate of Linn-Mar in Marion, is going for her 800th career coaching victory tonight as #9 Iowa (4-0) takes on undefeated Duke in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The Blue Devils are unranked, despite being 6-0 on the season. They're coached by former Tennessee Volunteer and WNBA player Kara Lawson.

The Hawkeyes last played on November 17. A game against Drake was canceled, as were two games at the Cancun Challenge after COVID struck the team. Tonight's game tips off at 8 p.m. Iowa time on ESPN. It truly could be a historic night for Bluder who's career has been filled with victories at every stop.

Bluder began her coaching career at St. Ambrose University in Davenport where she compiled a 169-36 record from 1984 to 1990. In her last two seasons combined, St. Ambrose lost just three games.

In Bluder's first two seasons (1990-92) at Drake University in Des Moines, the team was under .500. Then, she turned the program around. In 10 seasons under Bluder, the Bulldogs won 188 games and lost just 105.

Bluder is now in her 23rd season at the University of Iowa. Heading into tonight, she's 443-234 as the head of the Hawkeye women's basketball program. During her 37-year coaching career, her career record is 799-376. She could reach rare territory with a win tonight.

Below are the career wins for active Division I women's coaches heading into the season, per the NCAA.

  1. Tara VanDerveer (Stanford) 1,125 (42nd season)
  2. Geno Auriemma (Connecticut) 1,119 (36th season)
  3. C. Vivian Stringer (Rutgers) 1,055 (50 seasons-currently on leave of absence due to COVID concerns) Stringer was 269-84 at Iowa in 12 seasons, concluding in 1994-95.
  4. Gary Blair (Texas A&M) 838 (36th season)
  5. Joe Foley (Little Rock) 816
  6. Lisa Bluder (Iowa) 799 (37th season-win total includes this season)

Good luck to the Hawks and Lisa Bluder tonight. It could be a special evening.

Brian Ray,

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