May 19, 2009
- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- Watch Lickliter’s media conference (May 19)
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Saying that the timing is right, head coach Todd Lickliter and the University of Iowa men’s basketball team will travel to Rome, Italy, and Athens, Greece, to play exhibition games against three club teams and a national team. The entire trip will span May 22-June 1.
“We thought it was a good time this spring and I’m convinced it really is. I’m excited,” Lickliter said at a media conference Tuesday in the press room inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “It gives our guys something to focus on and look forward to, so this spring has been very productive for a couple reasons.”
Lickliter said that during the spring practices, he has noticed that first-year strength and conditioning coach Rusty Burney has the players `headed in the right direction.’
“Our guys are stronger, they feel better and there’s not a bit of complaining or negative attitude toward it,” Lickliter said. “They know they’re getting better, they’re working hard. Rusty is doing a great job of leading and the players have really made a commitment.”
The added bulk will be an asset for the Hawkeyes, who will compete against older and more physical players overseas.
A second reason for taking the trip in May is because the opposition Iowa will face will still be together and competitive. Team chemistry and togetherness was a third reason Lickliter wanted to travel now, before an incoming group of Hawkeyes begins practicing with its future teammates.
“I didn’t want them to come in the summer, us spend the whole summer together, send them back home and us go off,” Lickliter said. “I didn’t want to split the group. The team that’s here will focus, go over, prepare and compete and then come back. It’s a terrific time to go. There’s a lot of excitement.”
Last season the Hawkeyes finished 15-17 overall. The UI roster for the foreign tour includes senior Devan Bawinkel (4.8 points per game, 51 three-point field goals), junior Jarryd Cole (3.7 ppg, 3.0 rebounds per game, 67.9 field goal percentage) and sophomores Andrew Brommer (1.2 ppg/1.2 rpg, 52.9 field goal percentage), Aaron Fuller (4.0 ppg/2.7 rpg), Matt Gatens (10.8 ppg/3.8 rpg/2.2 assists per game, 52 three-point field goals, 90.4 free throw percentage) and Anthony Tucker (10.4 ppg/3.0 rpg, 42.7 three-point field goal percentage) and redshirt freshman John Lickliter.
Lickliter said the pre-tour practices have been enjoyable and impressive.
“We’re going to play to win. More importantly we get the practice time and we get to experience something that none of us have experienced before. We’re going to compete at a high level. I have to think it’s going to help us down the line.”
UI head coach
“All in all, we feel like we’re in a great position,” Lickliter said. “We’re excited for the trip and thankful for the opportunity. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to play everybody. The idea on this is experience. It’s to develop and see if we can get better.”
Lickliter said his team will not have a lackadaisical, vacation-style mentality.
“We’re going to play to win,” Lickliter said. “More importantly we get the practice time and we get to experience something that none of us have experienced before. We’re going to compete at a high level. I have to think it’s going to help us down the line.”
A roster of seven players might not be ideal, but it isn’t an enormous hindrance for Lickliter.
“I would like to have eight players. I’d like to have one more,” he said. “If we had just a little more depth, but that’s OK. If I were one of the seven, I’d be pretty excited. Especially in this situation, you get a lot of reps.”
The Hawkeyes depart for Rome on Friday, May 22, and play their first exhibition game on Sunday, May 24, against Basket Ferentino. Iowa will then play three games in Athens, Greece — on May 27 against the Greek Senior Select team, May 29 against Dukas and May 31 against Greek Club Team II.
The UI men’s team is visiting the same areas in Italy and Greece that the Hawkeye women’s program toured in 2007. This is the first trip for the UI men since visiting Australia in 2003.