July 20, 2007
IOWA CITY – – The media frenzy has quieted since the University of Iowa named Todd Lickliter head men’s basketball coach, yet nothing has been calm for Lickliter, who has played catch-up since arriving in Iowa City on April 2.
“It’s been hectic because we have a lot of catching up to do,” Lickliter said. “I think the support here has been unparalleled. I can’t imagine this being a better place from all that Iowa City has to offer — to the support within the athletic department, throughout the university and community — I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Lickliter has been busy buying a house, getting acquainted with the team and seeing all that Iowa City has to offer. His family has been in town a limited time but they have enjoyed the different festivities in the area.
“We’ve taken in a lot of the restaurants and they are excellent,” said Lickliter, the former head coach at Butler University. “We’re trying to get acclimated to being able to navigate and get to other places. It’s been fun.”
The Lickliter’s have plenty they want to see, from the different plays to the art museum. The new head coach has quickly noticed how different his previous home in Indianapolis was compared to Iowa City.
“There is a lot less traffic here, so that’s a good thing,” Lickliter said. “I think Iowa City has a lot of advantages, but one thing that it doesn’t have is a professional sports team. I didn’t take in a lot of the pro sports anyway, so I don’t think that’s a negative, but a positive. So much is centered on the University of Iowa and that’s exciting.”
Lickliter was named national Coach of the Year last season when he piloted Butler to the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual champion Florida, 65-57. Lickliter’s squad went 29-7 in 2006-07 with a 13-3 record in the Horizon League.
“I think the only way you get some kind of honor like that is if you have a great group of guys and that’s what I had,” Lickliter said. “I had a terrific team. Our coaching staff was excellent and I have two of those guys with me now. That’s how you receive honors — it had a lot less to do with me and a lot more to do with them.”
Lickliter’s biggest challenges are implementing his system and becoming familiar with the players.
“To build the kind of relationship you want takes time and we don’t have a lot of time,” Lickliter said. “We’re going to be competing pretty quickly, so we’re going to have to be on a crash course.”
“If we do today what champions do, then we’ll be able to meet some of our challenges.”
Lickliter is going to recruit student-athletes who view it an honor to get a degree from the University of Iowa and be quality representatives in the community. He wants the most talented player that the Hawkeyes can get — a player with vision who can see the floor and see things beyond themselves and also understand their role on the team.
“We’re looking at all these things,” Lickliter said. “It has worked before or I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be here. We just need to make it work on a higher level. I think we need to be stronger as a team without question, but I don’t ever want to downplay the importance of skill.
“We will be an opportunistic team. If we think we can score inside, then we’ll do that. We did the same thing at Butler, but we want to be able to mix it up and get the shot and make the play that we want to make. We want to dictate how we’re going to play.”
Iowa suffered big losses with Adam Haluska and Mike Henderson graduating and Tyler Smith transferring to the University of Tennessee. Haluska led the Big Ten in scoring with 20.8 points per game and Smith added 14.8. They were the only Hawkeyes to average double figures in points per game.
“The guys will figure out their roles and how to best complement each another,” Lickliter said. “We’ll never put somebody in position where we say, `This is all you do,’ or `This is always what you do.’ We want guys who can expand and that continue to grow.
“I’ve said this many times: If we do today what champions do, then we’ll be able to meet some of our challenges.” Lickliter said.