Dec. 3, 2007
IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team will continue its season-long pursuit of precision and efficiency when the Hawkeyes play at Northern Iowa on Wednesday, Dec. 5, with an 8:05 p.m. tip-off inside the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls.
Iowa is coming off a 57-45 victory over Eastern Illinois on Dec. 1, which elevated its season record to 5-4. It was the fifth time this season that the Hawkeyes have kept an opponent from scoring 50 or more points. UNI is undefeated in four outings at home and has a 6-1 overall mark. Iowa leads the all-time series 30-7, but the Panthers have won the last two — 57-55 last season and 67-63 in overtime in 2005.
“I love what they do,” Lickliter said Monday at a press conference inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “I’ve watched Northern Iowa and gosh, they know how to play. We’re going to go up there Wednesday and play. We’ve got to be prepared to compete.”
Three UNI players average double-figures in scoring — Jared Josten (14.1 ppg), Jordan Egseder (11.7) and Eric Coleman (10.9). Coleman (8.9), Adam Koch (8.1) and Eglseder (8.0) are the rebounding leaders. As a team, the Panthers have a plus-8.5 rebounding edge over their first seven opponents.
“People rise during adversity and when they do, they have an opportunity to be successful. There’s a little bit of pain going on. You have to go through some of that. We’ll stay the course, but it’s tough, no question. Once we go through this, then we’ll have the foundation and we’ll build from there.”
Lickliter admitted that some frustration has crept in after the first nine games, but that is not totally unexpected.
“People rise during adversity and when they do, they have an opportunity to be successful,” Lickliter said. “There’s a little bit of pain going on. You have to go through some of that. We’ll stay the course, but it’s tough, no question. Once we go through this, then we’ll have the foundation and we’ll build from there.”
Three Hawkeye freshmen — Jarryd Cole, Jake Kelly and Jeff Peterson — started both games in the Hawkeye Challenge last weekend. They combined to average 15 points and 11 rebounds, while each played nearly 33 minutes a game.
“You have practices, you evaluate,” Lickliter said. “I’ve never really said you have to play in this system a certain amount of time before you start. The guys who give you the best chance to compete should be on the floor.”
Senior Justin Johnson leads all Hawkeye scorers at 16.8 points per game with 33 three-point field goals. Senior Kurt Looby leads in both rebounding (8.1 rpg) and blocked shots (19). Looby leads all Big Ten players in field goal percentage (28 of 36, .778), is third in blocked shots and is fifth in rebounding. Johnson leads in three-point field goals and is fifth in the league in scoring.
Lickliter said that sophomore guard Dan Bohall — who did not start, but played, against Louisiana-Monroe and Eastern Illinois — will not play against Northern Iowa. Bohall averages 4.9 points and 19.8 minutes per game.
Although Lickliter said he possesses no magic formula to instant success, he said you have to go through tough times before you can renovate toward a perennial power. The formula consists of becoming comfortable with a system, recruiting to that system, and maintaining stability and consistency.
“We don’t have that base yet that I’m comfortable with,” Lickliter said. “It’s a process, as much as we don’t want it to be, because sometimes it’s a painful process. When we get those guys who really want to be Hawkeyes, we’ll be on the same page and all fight together.”
The game at UNI will be the first in a series of three consecutive games against in-state competition. The Hawkeyes visit Iowa State on Saturday, Dec. 8 (1:05 p.m., ESPNU) and host Drake on Friday, Dec. 14 (7:05 p.m., BTN).
RECORD VS. THE MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE — Iowa holds an all-time record of 116-35 against current members of the Missouri Valley Conference. UNI is 8-34 against the Big Ten, but has only played Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
FIRST TRIP TO MCLEOD — With Iowa making its first visit to the McLeod Center (7,018), it will likely mark the smallest crowd since the teams met in Iowa City on Dec. 15, 1916. Since the series resumed in 1980, the smallest crowd to attend an Iowa at Northern Iowa game in the UNI-Dome was 8,742 on Dec. 9, 1997.
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