UNI provides a major challenge for the Hawkeyes

Dec. 8, 2008

University of Iowa game notes

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Northern Iowa, a basketball program University of Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter once used for a video teaching tool, will visit Carver-Hawkeye Arena tomorrow with a 6 p.m. tip.

When Lickliter was coaching at Butler, he respected the Northern Iowa program so much that he used the Panthers as a training example for his Butler charges. Northern Iowa (5-3) will be the first of three straight games against in-state opponents.

“I had great respect for the way they played the game,” Lickliter said. “They really test you to see if you’ll stay sound. Northern Iowa defends with purpose, they play with composure and offensively they have great floor spacing and they really challenge you. As soon as you get ahead a little bit, they’ll counter. We’ll need to be at the top of our game.”

Iowa, which owns a 7-2 record, hosts Iowa State on Dec. 12 and travels to Drake on Dec. 20.

Four Panther players average double-figures in scoring, led by 6-foot-8 forward Adam Koch (11.6 points per game).Center Jordan Eglseder averages 11.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Northern Iowa defeated North Dakota 69-49 on Saturday, but lost its lone road game of the season, 84-77, at Illinois-Chicago.

The Hawkeyes will be without the services of freshman Anthony Tucker, the team’s leading scorer at 13.1 points per game. Tucker has also accounted for more than 36-percent of Iowa’s three-point field goal production (31 of 86). According to Lickliter, Tucker has been suspended for what he termed an `alcohol-related lapse in judgment.’

“When I hear that, I’m very thankful that everybody is well and OK and at the same time we need to address our commitment level,” Lickliter said. “We can’t change the lack of responsibility from this episode, but we sure can change behavior as we move forward. We addressed it and we’ll move forward.”

Lickliter said the depth of contributors this season should help offset Tucker’s absence.

“We’ve had a lot of contributors and wherever you ask, they’ll come in and do it,” Lickliter said. “That’s an area we’ve seen growth.”

The Hawkeyes hold a 31-7 edge in the all-time series, but Northern Iowa has been successful four times since the 2001 season. Iowa won 62-55 on Dec. 5, 2007 in Cedar Falls behind 19 points from Jake Kelly. Lickliter says he doesn’t feel any added pressure playing mid-major teams like Northern Iowa and Drake.

“I love to compete,” Lickliter said. “Everybody that knows basketball knows the success of Northern iowa and Drake. Mid-major is basically a term. You have major college players in those schools, you have excellent coaches and they’ve proven that whatever the label is, they’re unconcerned and they compete at the highest level.”

It promises to be a large and partisan crowd favoring the Hawkeyes since UI students are allowed to attend the game at no charge. A similar event is planned for Jan. 29 against Michigan State.

“Last year we had one snow storm — or one continuous snow storm maybe,” Lickliter said. “What a great environment that was (Feb. 6 against Wisconsin). It was really a terrific environment. I think we played at a great level and I think it’s great to have the support of our student body. I’m hoping to see a lot of them tomorrow night.”

Iowa is averaging 8,419 fans for first five games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a season-high 9,070 for the season-opener against Charleston Southern.