Lickliter, Banks admire the current Hawkeyes

Oct. 19, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the Oct. 17 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Basketball practice began for both the University of Iowa men’s and women’s teams Friday, Oct. 16. The Hawkeye women return three starters from a team that went 21-11 and advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2008-09. The UI men were 15-17 a year ago and return five players that started at least eight games.

It is obviously a busy time of year, but Todd Lickliter, head men’s coach for the Hawkeyes, blocks off enough of each Saturday to watch the UI football squad compete.

“I wouldn’t miss them,” Lickliter said. “We have a sign in our locker room that says `Consistency, the mark of a champion.’ We can take that sign down, just put a picture of (head football coach) Kirk (Ferentz) and probably accomplish the same thing. It’s a thrill to go to the football games.”

There are many things Lickliter enjoys about the sport of basketball, one being an in-your-face defensive approach that drives opposing offenses batty. Similarly, he enjoys watching football defenses shine.

“How about (UI defensive coordinator) Norm Parker?” Lickliter asked. “That defense is incredible. I love it that it doesn’t take anything away from the rest of the staff. We’ve got the best football coach in America. I’ve got to say this…the Arizona game (a 27-17 Iowa victory). I don’t know who caught him (cornerback Amari Spievey), but the Arizona player looks like he’s going to score a touchdown. The effort to catch him from back and tackle him on the 3-yard line, and then to have a goal-line stand? That’s why you win. It’s that kind of effort. You know, that’s passed right down. The consistency in that program is incredible and to be admired and respected.”

Lickliter wasn’t the only person to give the nationally ranked Hawkeye football program high praise recently. Former quarterback Brad Banks, who led Iowa to an 11-2 record and a Big Ten Conference championship in 2002, was on campus to watch the Hawkeyes defeat Michigan, 30-28, on Oct. 10 for Homecoming.

Banks placed second in the Heisman Trophy voting, while earning the Davey O’Brien Award as the top quarterback in the nation.

“Coach Ferentz, coach O’Keefe, coach Aiken — all the coaches here — are like father figures,” Banks said. “They were fathers for me away from home. They really cared about us and made sure we did everything we needed to do to be successful.”

O’Keefe is offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe and Aiken is former UI defensive line coach Ron Aiken, who is now defensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League.

With Banks calling the signals, the Hawkeyes won nine consecutive games in 2002. The current Iowa team has won seven in a row to start the season and 11 straight dating back to last November 1.

“Stay grounded, stay focused and stay hungry,” advised Banks. “Continue to do the things you were doing that got you to this point. Try not to get caught up in that stuff because it can be overwhelming. Continue on and keep your eye on the prize.”