Nov. 28, 2007
IOWA CITY — Disappointed, but not discouraged.
That’s the attitude around the University of Iowa men’s basketball program as the Hawkeyes prepare for Louisiana-Monroe on Friday, Nov. 30, at 8:05 p.m., inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa is 4-3 overall, the Warhawks are 2-4.
Iowa has won 24 of 25 tournament titles and is 49-1 in Hawkeye Challenge games. Eastern Illinois (1-4) and Rice (0-4) open the tournament at 5:45 p.m.
UI Head Coach Todd Lickliter did not mention the tournament or any of the three possible opponents at his press conference Wednesday. Instead, he identified some concerns following the Hawkeye’s 56-47 loss to Wake Forest and the love he has at watching teams come together for the “unification of purpose.”
“I watched the game again, as painful as that may be,” Lickliter said. “We’ll continue to evaluate and move forward. It’s OK to be disappointed, but not discouraged. These guys are good guys.”
Lickliter has not lost his sense of humor. When asked what he would say to Iowa fans, Lickliter interrupted the question and responded, “Sorry?” After the laughter subsided, Lickliter apologized for cutting the question short.
“I would hate to think I would ever give up before the final bell,” Lickliter said. “We’re going to fight and compete. I tell our players, as long as there’s a scoreboard, we know what the goals are.”
The Hawkeyes opened the season with four consecutive victories before losing to Bradley (67-56), Utah State (75-62) and Wake Forest (56-47). Lickliter said he enjoys watching teams being assembled and that you measure talent in many different ways. Then he took accountability for the Hawkeye’s recent performance.
“The responsibility is on me,” Lickliter said. “I have to find out how these players complement each other.”
The brightest news of the day for Hawkeye fans came when Lickliter said injured guard Tony Freeman is not expected to redshirt and that he could be ready to play within two weeks.
“Tony Freeman is doing well,” Lickliter said. “I don’t think his injury warrants (red-shirting).”
Lickliter continues to emphasize the need to value the basketball and he is concerned that the Hawkeyes have committed an average of 17 turnovers a game.
“You have to have a greater level of commitment to saying, `We’re going to control the ball,'” Lickliter said.
Iowa has not lost to any of the three teams in the Hawkeye Challenge. They are 3-0 against Louisiana-Monroe, 4-0 against Eastern Illinois and 1-0 against Rice.
Louisiana-Monroe defeated Alcorn 105-75 on Nov. 27 behind 27 points from Tony Hooper. Three other Warhawks scored in double figures — Jonas Brown (19), Jordan Payne (18) and Mitchell Hampton (14). Afam Nweke pulled down 10 rebounds and Raphelle Turner blocked four shots. Hooper is averaging 15.8 points per game and Payne is averaging 15.7.
Justin Johnson is the leading scorer for Iowa with 100 points in seven games (14.3 ppg). Jeff Peterson is averaging 8.1 points and a team-high 4.4 assists per game. The Hawkeye defense has allowed just 55.0 points per game.
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