March 8, 2011
- Purchase Iowa Men’s Basketball Tickets
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone app!
- Take the Hawkeyes With You: Iowa Podcasts
- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team will take it one game at a time. That’s the philosophy the Hawkeyes will implore needing to win four games in four days to claim the 2011 Big Ten Tournament title to extend their season.
“You’ve got to win one,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery at his weekly gathering with the media inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “That’s it. You’ve got to win one. All we’re worried about right now is Michigan State. That’s it. We’ll go from there.”
The Hawkeyes and Spartans split during the regular season. Iowa beat Michigan State by 20 points (72-52) on Feb. 2 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeyes Arena. The Spartans returned the favor, downing Iowa, 85-66, six days ago in East Lansing.
McCaffery isn’t worried about playing Michigan State for the second time in eight days.
“I don’t think it makes a difference for either team,” said McCaffery. “Both teams are fresh in each other’s minds. We know each other well.”
The Hawkeyes know they have to contend with second team all-Big Ten guard Kalin Lucas (17.0 ppg., 3.3 apg.), but the Spartans have to account for Iowa’s honorable mention all-conference selections in Melsahn Basabe and Bryce Cartwright.
Basabe has rewritten the Iowa record books in his first season in Black and Gold, ranking among the top 10 in seven different categories. Cartwright, meanwhile, led the Big Ten with 6.8 assists per game, the highest average for a Hawkeye player since 1975 (Cal Wulfsbefg, 7.7).
McCaffery thinks both players were very deserving of postseason recognition.
“I am really happy for both of them,” said McCaffery. “Melsahn is still just scratching the surface of how good he can be. I think what we’ll see next year is a bigger, stronger, more consistent version of what we saw this year, so his numbers will be improved.
“Here’s a guy (Cartwright) who in his heart knew he could play at this level and didn’t have a lot of opportunity. He was willing to wait. Thankfully he waited and we were able to get him in June, and he leads the Big Ten in assists.”
McCaffery is a fan of the conference’s tournament champion earning the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
“I think you could argue that your body of work being more extensive should get you in,” said McCaffery. “I think this is a really exciting time of year. It gives everybody a chance.”
The Hawkeyes get their chance starting with seventh-seeded Michigan State Thursday afternoon at Conseco Fieldhouse. The game will be televised on ESPN2 beginning at 4 p.m. (CST). The winner of the game faces second-seeded Purdue in the quarterfinals Friday at 5:30 p.m.
McCaffery and the Hawkeyes will take it one game at a time.