Sunday Afternoon Hoops in The Barn

Jan. 16, 2011

=””” target=”_new”>IOWA CITY, Iowa — Basketball is a difficult enough game without giving top-notch effort. The Hawkeyes look to get back on track with their effort this afternoon when they face Minnesota at The Barn in Minneapolis.

“It’s frustrating,” said sophomore Eric May of the team’s effort the last two contests. “We’ve played really well some games, and we’ve seen how good we can play. Then to see our effort the last two games is upsetting, but it has given us some motivation to move forward.

“We’ve taken a step back from what we were doing before, but this is a good opportunity to take a step forward and really figure it out.”

Iowa looks to take that step forward at 5:06 p.m. when it faces its fourth top 25 team in its last five games. Minnesota enters today’s contest with a 13-4 overall record with 12 of its victories coming in the friendly confines of Williams Arena.

The Golden Gophers most recent win came Jan. 13 when they knocked off No. 8 Purdue behind 26 points from Blake Hoffarber. Hoffarber leads a group of four Minnesota players in double digits, averaging 14.1 points per contest. Trevor Mbakwe averages a double-double with 13 points and 10.4 rebounds.

“You have to keep him under control,” said junior Matt Gatens when referencing Hoffarber. “Minnesota is a really talented team with high flyers, athletes and guys that crash the boards and rebound well.”

Gatens hasn’t forgotten the team’s last trip to Minneapolis –an 88-53 loss last March. The win was Minnesota’s fourth straight in the series and its fourth win in the last five meetings at Williams Arena.

“They really gave it to us up there and even here last year it was a pretty tough game,” said Gatens. “I think we have some recent memories of this team and hopefully that plays a role in our motivation.”

One player Iowa needs to play motivated and energized is May, who scored a total of three points the last two contests after missing the Ohio State game with a groin injury.

“The groin isn’t really causing me a huge problem,” said May, who is Iowa’s third-leading scorer at 9.9 points per contest. “I just have to get into the flow of the game in different ways. I can’t rely on trying to drive the ball, trying to get an open jump shot. It starts with me trying to get a tip-out, a fast break steal or something. Back to some of the stuff I was doing earlier in the year just to get going.”

Gatens and senior Jarryd Cole know the thing they can control is their effort on the court, and it’s a point of emphasis heading into the contest.

“We need to get angry, but at the same time come in every day and stay positive, keep our heads up and keep fighting,” said Gatens.

“We’re just going to have to pick it up,” added Cole. “We have to look down deep in ourselves and say we want to play this basketball game. Each player individually will have to do that themselves and try to work toward a goal… until we do that, we’re not going to be as successful as we should be.”

Tonight’s game will be broadcast to a national audience on the Big Ten Network. Iowa men’s basketball will then be featured on “The Journey” immediately following.