May 12, 2008
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball program is moving forward with an eye on re-establishing its winning tradition.
That was the message from a seemingly relaxed and rested head coach Todd Lickliter, who participated in a 35-minute conference call with the media Monday morning.
“I like our commitment in the weight room and we’re trying to move forward and make progress,” Lickliter said. “No one was pleased with the results this year.”
The Hawkeyes opened with four consecutive nonconference victories and finished the season 13-19 overall, 6-12 in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa won 10 of 18 games inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“We did see some good things,” Lickliter said. “At times we played well and competed with some of the best teams in the country.”
Lickliter said the Hawkeyes have “balanced the classes well” with six returning players who will be joined by two junior college transfers and four incoming freshmen.
“I would prefer a maximum of four newcomers, but we’re making progress that way,” Lickliter said.
Next season the Iowa roster will include two seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen (Coach Lickliter’s son, John, is a walk-on).
Four of the top six scorers return for Iowa, led by Cyrus Tate (8.3 points per game), Jake Kelly (7.3), Jarryd Cole (6.6) and Jeff Peterson (5.2). Cole is recovering well from a knee injury that forced him to miss the final 19 games of the season.
“He’s doing wonderful,” Lickliter said. “He seems right on track. He attacked this rehab the way I knew he would.”
Lickliter said he expects Cole to be ready for competition in October and said he is impressed with the medical and training staffs at the UI.
“John Streif is as good a trainer as you’re going to find,” Lickliter said.
Much of the buzz for the 2008-09 season centers around the incoming six-member class — juniors Jermain Davis and Devan Bawinkel and freshmen Andrew Brommer, Aaron Fuller, Matt Gatens and Anthony Tucker.
“They’re all very capable,” Lickliter said. “I’m excited that they’re excited to be here. We’re excited but we also understand that (playing in the Big Ten) requires a pace and physical style that they’re not accustomed to.”
Lickliter said that all current and incoming Hawkeyes have an opportunity to participate in the Prime Time League this summer in North Liberty. J.R. Angle, who played in 18 games last season, and David Palmer, who saw action in 14 games, will also return for Iowa.
When asked to access the state of the program after one season on the job, Lickliter said “each day we want to seize that opportunity, that moment, to get better.”
“I’ve really enjoyed working with the student-athletes I’ve been involved with,” Lickliter said.
Lickliter was asked several times about leading scorer Tony Freeman asking for, and being granted, his scholarship release.
“There are some things I think you should be respectful of and I think this is one of them,” Lickliter said. “This should remain between individuals. We absolutely wish Tony the best. We’re going to try to move on and be the best team we can be.”
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