Lickliter refuses to limit expectations of Iowa team

Jan. 28, 2008

University of Iowa Game Notes

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team — winner of three of its last five games — attempts to win back-to-back Big Ten Conference contests on Wednesday, Jan. 30, against Purdue at West Lafayette. Tip-off is 6:05 p.m.

The Hawkeyes are 10-11 overall, 3-5 in the Big Ten. Purdue is 15-5, 6-1 and has lost just once in 12 games inside Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers defeated Iowa 67-62 on Jan. 16 in Iowa City. Purdue has won eight of nine games and five in a row.

“Hopefully we can get prepared for a really, really good Purdue team that’s playing about as well as anyone in the league,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said at his weekly media gathering Monday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “Purdue’s not only balanced, but (head coach) Matt (Painter) does a terrific job. You hear about their skill level and their presence on the floor and the way they complement one another, but I think they defend with great intensity, too.”

At 6-1 in conference play, Purdue is ½ game out of first place behind only undefeated Indiana (6-0). Michigan State and Wisconsin are also 6-1 in the league. Iowa is in sole possession of sixth. Even though many feel the Hawkeyes have been a feel-good overachieving story this season, Lickliter says they are not willing to rest on their laurels.

“Are we far enough long?” Lickliter asked. “I don’t think so. We just have to get better every day. Does that mean that we’re not pleased with what they’ve done? We are pleased, we just aren’t satisfied.”

Iowa is second in the Big Ten Conference in scoring defense (58.0 points per game). In conference games, Cyrus Tate leads the league in field goal percentage (28 of 39, .718) and is third in rebounding (7.8). Tony Freeman is first in three-point field goals per game (3.13), second in minutes played (35.25) and fifth in scoring (16.1). Jeff Peterson is second in free throw percentage (16 of 17, .941).

Iowa evened its league record in its last four games at 2-2 with a 64-49 win over Penn State last Saturday night in Carver-Hawkeye. The Hawkeyes have won the two Big Ten games by an average of 11 points and lost to Indiana and Purdue at home by a combined eight points. Lickliter was pleased with how Iowa bounced back against Penn State after falling at Indiana by 22 points three days earlier.

“To come back and respond the way we did,” Lickliter said. “I was concerned out of respect for Penn State and the way they play. Our guys focused on what needed to be done and really complemented each other well. We played with pretty good purpose most of the time and it paid off.”

When asked for a second time if his Hawkeyes had exceeded expectations, Lickliter provided this explanation:

“The expectations that we set are that we want to play really good basketball and when we have a chance to compete, we want to be successful. So we have not exceeded our expectations. I am pleased with the way the team has played at times. I’m proud of the effort they’ve given, but I’d never limit this team by saying, `congratulations, you’ve exceeded someone’s expectations.”

Lickliter said Iowa is “still actively recruiting” and can sign two more players for next season to go along with the four that signed with the Hawkeyes in the fall.

The final query of the press conference wondered what Lickliter’s impression was after senior Seth Gorney crossed his forearms in a celebratory gesture after a made basket against Penn State.

“Is that what that is? A celebration?” Lickliter said. “I was thinking maybe I should do a cartwheel or something. It’s a fun game — we should be charged up and all, but I also think that Seth’s fully capable of making a three-pointer. And if not, please don’t shoot it. If you’re going to shoot it, expect it to go in and let’s move on. And let’s congratulate one another.”

Lickliter emphasized that he is very pleased with Gorney’s effort this season. Gorney has started all eight league games and is averaging 7.1 rebounds and 4.4 points in conference play.

Then, with the questioning complete, Lickliter left the stage with a half-hearted invitation to the group.

“Well, let’s go fishing,” Lickliter said. “It’s 60 degrees out there.”

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