Oct. 20, 2010
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By MICHELE DANNO
IOWA CITY, Iowa — What junior transfer Bryce Cartwright deems his favorite aspect of basketball also defines his new University of Iowa team:
“I like how teams come together from all different areas,” said the 6-foot-1 guard. “One person can be from over here, and one person can be from over there, but we all come together as a team and go on a journey for a year trying to beat anybody and everybody that we face.”
With six freshmen, four new coaches, and two transfers with origins ranging from East to West coast, Cartwright isn’t the only stranger to Iowa’s program. He said he is excited by the opportunity to rebuild the Hawkeyes alongside a roster of newcomers like himself.
Cartwright began his collegiate journey representing his home state of California at Fresno State. After deciding Fresno was the “wrong fit,” the Compton native headed south to play for Paris Junior College in Texas.
So what brings him to the Midwest? Basketball, obviously, and the opportunity to excel in a program undergoing major transformations.
Iowa’s new head coach, Fran McCaffery, said the Hawkeyes are “ecstatic” to have Cartwright in the program.
From the look of his resume, Cartwright seems to be a valuable addition to the 2010-11 Iowa squad.
Although his basketball campaign officially began at age 5 under his father’s direction, Cartwright’s career really took off at Dominguez High School when he led his team to 32-3 record during his senior season. This accomplishment earned him a spot on MaxPrep’s National Division All-Tournament Team and got him recognized as a McDonald’s All-American nominee in 2008.
“I know this is one of the best conferences in the country, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m not nervous because, where I come from, and playing basketball for so many years, you’re just able to pick it up. I’m used to it.”
UI junior Bryce Cartwright
Fresno State picked him up, where he played all 34 games of his freshman season and started 20 times. Cartwright led the squad with a 73.9 free-throw percentage and was sixth in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio.
At Paris, Cartwright helped his team win the Region XIV North Zone title with a 27-6 season record. He said he hopes to make similar contributions to Iowa’s program, with an ultimate goal of succeeding in the NCAA tournament.
But first, Cartwright knows he must overcome competitive Big Ten rivals — a feat he feels confident about. He added a friendly rivalry between himself and fellow Las Angelus native Darius Morris of Michigan fuels the competition even more.
“I just gotta have a good game every night,” Cartwright said. “I know this is one of the best conferences in the country, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m not nervous because, where I come from, and playing basketball for so many years, you’re just able to pick it up. I’m used to it.”
Still, Cartwright said there are improvements he can make to his defensive game both “on and off the ball.”
To help him do so, McCaffery and the rest of the new coaching staff are available to further develop what they acknowledge as existing athletic abilities.
“He’s a bullet-quick, penetrating point guard who can make plays in traffic and make plays on the break,” McCaffery said. “He’s going to be active defensively, make some steals for us and be a real integral part of our up-tempo offense.”
McCaffrey and Hawkeye fans can breathe easy, because Cartwright said he isn’t going anywhere soon. After two relocations, the junior recently declared himself a communications studies major, and plans on finishing both his academic campaign and basketball career at the University of Iowa.
He did note a few noticeable differences between Iowa and California, though.
“Where I come from, there are a lot of people that you know you don’t know. Here, there are not as many people in the city,” Cartwright said. “It’s good. I’m adjusting pretty well, and I’m having a good time. I have nothing but good things to say about Iowa. Period.”
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While he acknowledged the challenge of having to adjust to three different school environments, Cartwright said he doesn’t think the transfers decelerated his career. In fact, he attributes part of his success to the moves, noting how they “helped me appreciate things more and helped me get where I am today.”
Comparing Iowa to his two former collegiate teams, Cartwright said he is confident in the variety of skill-sets his new teammates bring to the court, and he is anxious to watch this redeem the Iowa program this season.
“I think we’re covering all the basic things, but now we just have to put it together,” Cartwright said. “We can play against each other right now, but I can’t wait to see how we use it against other people that don’t know what we’re doing.”