Nov. 3, 2011
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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 — There’s a different aura surrounding the 2011-12 University of Iowa men’s basketball team.
“It seems like a different attitude this year,” said senior guard Matt Gatens, who is Iowa’s leading returning scorer at 12.6 points per game. “I think we believe a little bit more in ourselves and have more confidence, which is big.”
The attitude change with the Hawkeyes is straightforward. The team is confident in the system with it being the second year of the Fran McCaffery era. Gatens also feels the upperclassmen are in a much in a much better position to lead and tutor the newcomers on the roster.
“I think we’re ahead of where we were last year, which is what you would expect,” said Gatens. “A year of coach McCaffery’s system under our belt is really going to help.
“I feel a lot more comfortable being able to lead and know what to say to these younger guys. Trying to get the new guys on track right away, being able to lead in different areas and get them to understand the system.”
“They’re all guys that are going to be able to contribute and play big minutes for us,” said Gatens. “They all bring something different to the table. Josh is an incredible shooter, Gabe with his size and running ability, and Aaron is a versatile forward that will create match-up problems.”
Senior Bryce Cartwright echoes his fellow backcourt mate’s statements.
“Josh has been shooting it really well,” he said. “Aaron is versatile; he gives us a dynamic player on the wing and inside, and Gabe has been blocking everything and giving us energy. They can be impact players for us.”
Gatens and Cartwright sense the optimism surrounding the Hawkeyes in the Iowa City community.
“In this community people are a lot more excited and expecting more things of us this year,” said Gatens. “We seniors want to go out with a good season.
“Hopefully we can live up to those expectations and exceed them. We’re probably expecting more than what people outside the locker room are expecting.”
“I think they (the fans) are excited about Hawkeye basketball having an opportunity to be back,” said Cartwright.
The Hawkeyes host Northwest Missouri State in an exhibition game on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The squad opens its regular season Nov. 11 at home against Chicago State.
“It’s crazy how fast it goes,” said Gatens of his UI career. “I am living this season with no regrets, putting it out there since it’s my last year. Hopefully we can put together a good season and get this thing turned around.”