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Women's NCAA Tournament 2011 Preview: Three Keys For Gonzaga Vs. Iowa

With the help of a Q&A with SBN's Iowa Hawkeyes site Black Heart Gold Pants, a breakdown of the three keys for the first round matchup with the Gonzaga Bulldogs in Spokane.

3. Hitting jumpshots

Gonzaga was not known as a power team even with Heather Bowman and Vivian Frieson and without those two this season, they've become even more of a finesse team, relying heavily on jumpshots. The difference might be that Gonzaga has been far more efficient in that regard and while both teams have gone through cold spells in losses, it might be a bigger problem for Iowa.

NCAA Women's Tournament 2011 Preview: Gonzaga Vs. Iowa Q&A With SBN's Black Heart Gold Pants - Swish Appeal
Iowa tends to particularly struggle if their three-pointers aren't falling because they don't have much of a Plan B in that situation -- they struggle to pound the ball in low at times. And, frankly, depth has also been a problem in many of their losses: with such an unproductive bench, the starters are often to forced to play long minutes and in some of the losses they've looked visibly fatigued at the end of games, leading to sloppy execution on offense and defense.

2. Iowa's depth at Gonzaga's pace

Led by outstanding point guard Courtney Vandersloot, Gonzaga can run and push the tempo. The problem that causes for Iowa is simply a matter of depth - Iowa is not deep at all beyond their starters, which can cause problems.

NCAA Women's Tournament 2011 Preview: Gonzaga Vs. Iowa Q&A With SBN's Black Heart Gold Pants - Swish Appeal
BHGP: The truth is this Iowa team isn't very deep at all -- if starters get dinged up or suffer foul trouble, they're in big trouble because the bench hasn't been able to offer much support all year.  That said, if Kalli Hanson's outside shot is falling (she's a 36% shooter from long-range on the season), she could provide some welcome scoring relief from off the bench.

1. Staying aggressive

Iowa is nothing if not a scrappy and aggressive team and that has been something that can waver for Gonzaga, particularly in getting to the free throw line. They'll have to maintain that to win.

Women's NCAA Tournament: Iowa-Gonzaga Preview With Swish Appeal - Black Heart Gold Pants
Their weakness is a sort of nebulous intangible that was significant in their USC and Notre Dame losses and that is their sometimes wavering aggression - for some reason when teams got physical with them, they tended to back down and settle for jumpers instead of going to the basket. Part of that in the early season might have been the adjustment to losing their two posts, but they haven't gotten to the free throw line at a high rate all season so settling for jumpers will be a weakness to keep an eye on.

Full Q&A at BHGP and Swish Appeal.