Nov. 4, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Different bodies and a different look.
The University of Iowa men’s basketball team will see both Sunday when it plays an exhibition game against Marian (Ind.) at 12:35 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“There comes a point when you kind of get sick of playing against each other and you’re ready to get some real opponents in here and you get to try your stuff against guys who don’t know what you’re running,” UI sophomore Matt Gatens said. “It’s getting close and we’re getting real excited for it. It’ll be a fun time.”
Hawkeye head coach Todd Lickliter met the media Wednesday for the second of 15 scheduled weekly press conferences this season. Like Gatens, he is ready for a fresh look as well as an opportunity to kick things into game-day mode.
“The other thing you hope to accomplish with an exhibition is rehearsing a game,” Lickliter said. “When you show up for a game, what the process is, your warm-ups, how you respond to the coach…all the things you want to do so that your first real contest isn’t the first time you’ve been through it. An exhibition game is important in that regard.”
Marian returns its top seven scorers from a team that went 11-15 last season. The Knights are led by juniors Jordan Tucker (15.8 points per game) and Anthony Furlin (11.8 ppg). UI graduate manager Garrett Lickliter played basketball at Marian before earning a degree in sports management in 2007.
The Hawkeyes are 15-1 in exhibition games since the 1999-2000 season, with their only loss 79-76 to the Harlem Globetrotters in 2002. Iowa defeated Wayne State, 59-36, last season.
“I’m enjoying their progress and I like their competitive nature,” Lickliter said about his team. “I’ve enjoyed the upperclassmen meeting the responsibility of helping the underclassmen learn what they’re trying to do.”
Lickliter said that if the Hawkeyes were playing a game today, freshman Cully Payne would get the nod at point guard. Payne appears ready to go, despite suffering a mild ankle sprain during an intrasquad scrimmage Oct. 31.
“Cully is a full go and as of today, he would start at point. As of now,” Lickliter said. “I feel that guys understand their roles, they are respectful of one another’s roles and they understand if we’re going to be successful, we’re going to have to do this together. It sure is fun to go in and work with this group.”
Iowa will hold a closed scrimmage tomorrow against the University of Illinois-Springfield, which is coached by former Hawkeye Kevin Gamble. Lickliter calls these types of scrimmages “incredibly beneficial.”
Lickliter opened the press conference by flashing back to last weekend when former UI head coach Lute Olson and the 1980 Hawkeye Final Four team returned to Iowa City for a reunion.
“That was really special,” Lickliter said. “It was a terrific experience for our team. I’ve known coach Olson for a number of years now and I’ve always had tremendous respect for him. To see them come back together — the camaraderie. The togetherness was such a great example for our team. At halftime of our scrimmage we were al in the locker room together and we were all Hawkeyes. It was an experience we were grateful for and we’re proud of that team and we’re thankful to their loyalty to the university.”
The first regular-season game for the Hawkeyes will be Sunday, Nov. 15, against Texas-San Antonio during the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tipoff is 5:05 p.m.