Not How You Start, But Finish

Jan. 25, 2011


IOWA CITY, Iowa — For fans of the University of Iowa men’s basketball expecting an ultra-quick 180 degree turn-around from the year prior to becoming instant Big Ten Conference contenders, that is not reality.

It takes time for a young team with a new coach to find its way. It’s not how you start, rather how you finish.

In head coach Fran McCaffery’s first season, the Hawkeyes had yet to find the win column in Big Ten play before Sunday. Against Indiana, however, the Hawkeyes gave their fans a taste of what they’re capable of in front of 11,860 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa (8-11, 1-6) defeated the Hoosiers (10-10, 1-6) 91-77 for its first Big Ten victory of the season, and the first conference win of McCaffery’s Iowa tenure.

“Really happy for our guys,” said McCaffery. “(We’ve) been working really hard to get our first Big Ten win. It feels great…just going to keep plugging.”

The real story for the Hawkeyes on the day was the play of two of their youngest players.

Freshman Devyn Marble scored a career-high 18 points, and fellow freshman Melsahn Basabe secured yet another double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. It is his third double-double in his last six games.

Senior center Jarryd Cole likes what he sees from the two youngsters and what it can mean going forward for the team.

“It’s great for them,” said Cole. “We didn’t get off to the start that we wanted, and we finally got that win, so I think that’s going to build a lot of confidence and we want to get things rolling. Hopefully this will carry over to the rest of the season.”

For a team that had yet to win a Big Ten game, confidence is a key issue going forward, and nothing can replace the feeling that a win brings — especially for young players such as Marble and Basabe.

Marble said he was confident going into the pre-game shoot around and that he was going to have a big game. Once he hit his first shot and his teammates hit theirs, everything came together.

“The rhythm of the game, just seeing other guys do well… it just all comes together,” said Marble, who shot 8-of-13 from the field.

A win for a young team like the Hawkeyes will only help their confidence and attitude grow, and the players know it. Especially the veterans.

“It’s huge for this team to get off the little skid we were on and hopefully get some confidence as we move forward,” said junior Matt Gatens, who scored 19 points in the win.

Two plays that seemed to really boost the confidence of the entire team were two thunderous dunks by sophomore Eric May. “Thunder” May soared above the rim for back-to-back dunks early in the second half that seemed to energize the entire building.

“It was a key time to get the crowd in to it and make it more exciting,” said May. “It pumps me up more than a lay-up so that’s my standpoint.”

It pumped up the entire team, and players such as Basabe, Marble, and May give the Hawkeyes a bright young future.

“I think you throw McCabe in there,” said McCaffery, “He’s a terrific freshman, and Eric May is only a sophomore. We have got some pieces that I’m really excited about. We have two good ones coming in. Little-by-little we’ll put it together and we’ll get it done.”

The Hawkeyes will get it done. Because it’s not how you start, but how you finish. And Sunday’s win against Indiana was a start.