Jan. 15, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — For the second consecutive Sunday it will be Brunch with the Hawkeyes as the University of Iowa men’s basketball team searches for offensive consistency at No. 19 Purdue on Jan. 18. Tipoff from Mackey Arena is 11:05 a.m. (Iowa time).
The Hawkeyes (11-6 overall, 1-3 Big Ten Conference) are approaching their second consecutive road game during a seven-game stretch with five games away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Purdue is 12-4, 1-2.
“Purdue was hit by a couple injuries to key players, then just played terrific the other day against Wisconsin,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said at a media conference Thursday.
The Boilermakers dropped their first two league games (71-67 in overtime to Illinois and 67-64 at Penn State) before rebounding to whip Wisconsin 65-52 in West Lafayette. Three Purdue players average double figures in points per game — E’Twaun Moore (14.3), Robbie Hummel (14.0) and JaJuan Johnson (12.7). The Boilermakers lead all conference schools in scoring margin (plus-15.2) and they are second in scoring offense (72.6). Iowa is first in the Big Ten in scoring defense (56.1 points per game), but 10th in scoring offense (62.8). Lickliter would like to see improvement on the offensive end for the Hawkeyes.
“As we continue to work towards being a good team, there are aspects we can’t control and we have to recognize these,” Lickliter said. “Consistency is really huge for us now. There are aspects where I think we’ve played really good basketball, but we have to address the consistency and address effectiveness and purpose on offense.”
Iowa is coming off back-to-back 49-point offensive outputs during losses at home to Minnesota (52-49) and at Michigan (64-49). During those games — when starting power forward Cyrus Tate played a combined eight minutes before suffering an ankle injury — the Hawkeyes made 33 of 85 field goal attempts (38.8 percent). Iowa held Minnesota and Michigan to 38.4-percent shooting from the floor, but the Gophers and Wolverines attempted 27 more field goals that the Hawkeyes in those two games.
“That’s not to neglect defense,” Lickliter said. “We’ve been able to defend with a little more purpose. Hopefully we can balance the two…we’ll obviously need to with a huge game on Sunday morning.”
“As we continue to work towards being a good team, there are aspects we can’t control and we have to recognize these. Consistency is really huge for us now. There are aspects where I think we’ve played really good basketball, but we have to address the consistency and address effectiveness and purpose on offense.”
UI head basketball coach
Iowa has won six of the last 10 meetings with Purdue, but the Boilermakers are on a three-game winning streak, including two wins last season by a total of six points.
Lickliter wrestled with the notion that he has not emphasized offense enough with a team assistant coach LaVall Jordan noted is “experience-wise, the fourth or fifth-youngest team in America.”
“I think defense is something you can control more and it will help you be competitive,” Lickliter said. “I probably dis-proportionally emphasized defense, but it is something you can make a statement with and you have to be good on that end if you ever want to compete for championships. Now we need to become more comfortable offensively.”
That isn’t to insinuate that the Hawkeyes don’t have some impressive offensive numbers. They are tops in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (39.9 percent), second in free throw percentage (75.5) and fourth in field goal percentage (47.1). Freshman Matt Gatens leads the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage (30 of 55, 54.5 percent) and is ninth in field goal percentage (60 of 117, 51.3). Jeff Peterson is second in free throw percentage (54 of 61, 88.5) and Anthony Tucker is second in three-point field goals per game (2.85).
“We have to address what’s keeping us from being effective,” Lickliter said.
Lickliter, who previously coached at Butler University in Indianapolis, opened his media conference by referencing the transition of head coaches within the NFL Indianapolis Colts’ organization.
“I had a pretty good relationship with Tony Dungy — not best friends, but a good relationship — and I had great respect for him,” Lickliter said. “Now to think the Colts are going to be led by a Hawkeye — somebody I had the opportunity to meet a year ago, is outstanding. That’s great. Coach (Jim) Caldwell will do a terrific job there.”
The next five games for Iowa include home games against Wisconsin (Jan. 21) and Michigan State (Jan. 29) and road games at Penn State (Jan. 24), Illinois (Feb. 1) and Indiana (Feb. 4).