Feb. 1, 2010
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By David Meyer
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Iowa men’s basketball team experienced a letdown after a grueling week featuring its third game in seven days. The Hawkeyes suffered a 60-46 loss at Michigan on Sunday, but will be looking to bounce back when they tip off against Illinois in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday at 7:35 p.m.
For Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter, two consecutive solid performances do not entitle a team to neglect its third opponent.
“We had a very, very good game at Indiana,” Lickliter said Monday at a media conference inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “You cannot fault our effort against Ohio State. That doesn’t mean, `OK, we had two pretty good games. We’ll let you slide at Michigan.”
Lickliter and his club want to get back on the track that had them winning three of their last five games before heading to Ann Arbor.
“You get accustomed to watching a team play well and compete, and they weren’t able to do that on Saturday, so I was frustrated,” said Lickliter.
UI freshman guard Cully Payne thought he and his teammates got away from the fundamentals that had enabled them to play well for the past couple weeks.
“Any loose ball, we didn’t get. That’s hustle stuff on our part,” Payne said. “We didn’t box out. We didn’t get into the post enough — I take responsibility for that.”
Lickliter tried to convey to his athletes that their recent success cannot allow them to become complacent. Two out of three games is not good enough, nor is two out of three possessions — players have to take advantage of every opportunity.
“Maybe we got a little overconfident and forgot to do the little things that we were doing, that were helping us be successful. We have to get back to doing those little things again,” said Payne.
Lickliter considered the Hawkeyes busy schedule last week as a factor in his team’s uncharacteristic showing against the Wolverines. Nevertheless, it is not an excuse to him.
“You get accustomed to watching a team play well and compete, and they weren’t able to do that on Saturday, so I was frustrated.”
UI head coach
“I can see where an individual or a team could be flat,” Lickliter said. “I can’t accept that as a coach. It’s not fair to accept that, but you can understand it.”
The young Iowa squad will try to put the loss behind them and use it as a learning experience.
“Tough things need to make us better,” Lickliter said. “This group has been terrific about responding. I’ve been very proud of them. I expect them to respond.”
Lickliter thought his players could take a hint from their female counterparts. He complimented Iowa head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder and her team, who have rattled off three straight Big Ten wins after falling, 81-59, at Purdue on Jan. 17. At home on Sunday, the Lady Hawkeyess returned the favor to the Boilermakers pounding them, 70-50.
“They had a tough game at Purdue, and to their credit, they didn’t like it and they came back yesterday with a great game,” Lickliter said. “That’s what you have to do. You have to have those things to motivate you. Hopefully we can learn a lesson from their approach and what they did.”
Much in the same manner, the UI men were beaten soundly by the Illini, 59-42, on Jan. 5. They will attempt to adjust and follow the same blue print as Bluder’s Bunch. As the women’s two contests against Purdue this season show, basketball is a volatile game.
“It’s so much up and down, so many possessions. We shot badly [at Michigan], but we could shoot good tomorrow night,” said Payne.
Payne, who hails from Schaumburg, Ill., is familiar with a few members of the Illini. He grew up playing with and against DJ Richardson and Jeff Jordan so he will have extra incentive to play well against his childhood friends.
“We have to be ready to go,” Payne said. ” DJ just texted me to say `What’s up?’ Those are my guys, so we have to get prepared today and tomorrow.”
After receiving a much-needed day of rest Sunday, Lickliter wants his team to come out fresh and exemplify “The Iowa Way.”
“Right now, I don’t think Illinois has played against a very good Iowa team and I would hate for them to go through a season and not play against a good Iowa team,” Lickliter said. “I think we’re capable. We need to do it.”