Turning the Corner

Oct. 12, 2009

Complete Coach Lickliter Press Conference Transcript | Hawkeye Player Quotes

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Three decades have passed since the University of Iowa men’s basketball team advanced to the Final Four. Todd Lickliter, entering his third season as head coach of the Hawkeyes, says it is time to bring back those winning ways.

“We want to recapture that great tradition that’s been established,” Lickliter said at his tip-off media conference Monday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “Through the decades, the top 40 teams have been ranked, and we’re always in the top 40 until this decade. We’ve fallen out. It’s not acceptable, and we’re going to work to recapture that.”

In less than three weeks — on Saturday, Oct. 31 — following an open UI men’s basketball scrimmage, many team members and former head coach Lute Olson from the 1979-80 Hawkeye team will return to Iowa City.

The 2009-10 Hawkeyes return seven letterwinners and five players with starting experience from a team that finished 15-17 last season (5-13 in the Big Ten Conference). There are five newcomers — junior forward Devon Archie and freshmen Brennan Cougill (forward), Eric May (guard), Nick Neari (guard) and Cully Payne (guard).

“Out of that group I think we have five state champions if I’m not mistaken, which tells me they know how to lead a team or at least be a part of a special team and that is exciting for us,” Lickliter said. “So you can see that there is reason to be optimistic. For those returning guys we’ve had experiences that we’re very thankful for.”

Matt Gatens, a member of the all-Big Ten Freshman Team a year ago, averaged 10.8 points a 1.6 three-point field goals as a rookie. He shot 90.4-percent from the free throw line. Sophomore Anthony Tucker, who played 14 games and started eight times, averaged 10.4 points and 2.7 three-pointers per outing. Other Hawkeye returners are senior Devan Bawinkel (4.8 ppg, 1.6 three-pointers), junior Jarryd Cole (3.7 ppg, 3.0 rebounds per game), sophomore Aaron Fuller (4.0 ppg, 2.7 rebounds per game) and sophomore Andrew Brommer (1.2 ppg, 1.2 rpg). Freshman John Lickliter red-shirted last season.

“It’s always great to start a new season,” Lickliter said. “There is great anticipation.”

Lickliter acknowledged that the Hawkeyes will probably be picked at the bottom of the Big Ten, one of the strongest leagues in the nation.

“We look at that as just a great challenge because we’ve got great confidence in our team and in ourselves,” Lickliter said. “Some of my favorite stories are ones where the non-favorites are the ones that came out on top. We look at it as a wonderful opportunity in what I believe is the best conference in America.”

Lickliter has won 28 games in two seasons at Iowa, with 11 of those victories coming against Big Ten opponents. This is Year 3 of his rebuilding process.

“I think we’ve turned the corner,” Lickliter said. “I’m excited. I like where we’re going and so much of that is just the group that we’ve got right now and the support that we receive and the staff that we have. We’re never going to be happy until we’re competing for championships.”

Official practices begin Friday, Oct. 16, and Iowa will play an exhibition game against Marian (Ind.) University on Sunday, Nov. 8. The first regular-season game will be Sunday, Nov. 15, against Texas-San Antonio in the preliminary round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic.