Iowa Men's Basketball Finds a Hidden Gem

Dec. 9, 2010

PARDON OUR PROGRESS! As friends of the UI and fans of the Hawkeyes know, the UI Athletics Department is well into a multi-million dollar revitalization of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. This important and exciting project has reduced for this season the number of ticket windows that are operational on game nights. Fans attending the home events of the 2010-11 UI men’s basketball, women’s basketball and wrestling teams are invited to avoid game night delays by purchasing their event tickets online or in advance of game day. If your schedule doesn’t allow for an advance purchase, we recommend you consider arriving at the Arena a little earlier than originally planned. Go Hawks!

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Head coach Fran McCaffery hit the proverbial jackpot with his signing of junior college transfer Bryce Cartwright, even though he didn’t know exactly what he was getting.

“We signed him so late, I’m not sure we knew exactly what we were getting,” said McCaffery, who signed Cartwright to a tender agreement in June 2010. “What I saw on film was somebody who had a great feel, someone who knows how to play.”

Cartwright has shown the Hawkeye faithful his ability through the first nine games of his career in Black and Gold. The guard is one-of-two Iowa players averaging in double figures, netting 10.2 points per contest. The California native is also pacing the team with 37 assists, while ranking second in steals (10).

“You can tell he’s played a lot of basketball,” explained McCaffery. “He doesn’t seem to rattle in any venue and he can score. When I met him, he seemed to have a lot of character as well.”

Cartwright opened the season as the back-up point guard to sophomore Cully Payne, but things quickly changed when Payne was forced to the sidelines with a sports hernia. Cartwright was then inserted into the starting line-up against Southern Illinois Edwardsville, where he led Iowa to the 111-50 rout.

“When you take somebody who’s played a lot of basketball, has got athletic ability, can play two spots and has some character, then you have somebody that has a chance to be pretty good,” said McCaffery. “He’s been terrific.”

Prior to being inserted into the starting line-up, Cartwright had his breakout game in a Hawkeye uniform in the 78-72 loss to Long Beach State at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas. He finished the contest with 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting to go along with four steals and two assists.

Since being tabbed as the starting point guard, the Paris Junior College transfer has averaged 11.8 points and 5.8 assists per game. He’s reached double digits in three-of-his-four starts, which includes a 15-point, eight assist outing in the 70-53 victory over Idaho State.

Despite his strong start, Coach McCaffery would like to see Cartwright become more consistent.

“His concentration wanes at times, and that’s not a good quality for a point guard,” said McCaffery. “He’s got to be the one that is relentless with his concentration, execution and focus.

“He relies more sometimes on his athletic ability to make plays and reads, which is wonderful because that’s what you want to have – you want someone with that type of ability. As we move forward, what I want to see him do is be a little more solid as a point guard, then we will have someone who is really special.”

It’s only been nine games – four in the starting line-up – but Hawkeye fans have liked what they’ve seen from No. 24 thus far in his UI career.

The lone negative whisper regarding Cartwright’s stint in Iowa City is that fans wish he were a freshman with three years to play, rather than a junior.

Cartwright and the Hawkeyes will return to action on Friday night when they entertain Iowa State at 7:35 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.