Taking the Show on the Road

Nov. 19, 2011

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 — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team has rolled through the first three games of its season, winning by an average of 30.6 points per game. Things will get tougher Sunday.

The Hawkeyes venture away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the first time this season, playing a neutral site game in Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena against Creighton — the Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite. The Bluejays enter the contest with a 3-0 record after downing UAB, 70-60, Wednesday night to snap the Blazers’ 58-game nonconference home winning streak.

“Not only is it a step up, it’s not here,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery, who guided the Hawkeyes to their first three-game winning streak since 2008. “They’ve got a lot of weapons. They have four transfers that are older guys, and some experienced guards.

“They’re not going to panic. They’re not going to be in a situation where in any way, shape or form they’re nervous. They’re going to play their game, and we’re going to have to beat that team. They’re not going to beat themselves.”

Iowa heads west on I-80 after routing Northern Illinois, 88-55, Thursday night in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes shot 54.1 percent from the floor and 61.9 percent from 3-point range, making 13-of-21 attempts from long range.

The Hawkeyes have made 31 3-pointers over the first three games of the season — the most to start a season in the record books.

“That was something we felt like we had to address, not only in terms of recruiting, but in terms of the guys we had and working with them,” said McCaffery of the team’s 3-point shooting. “I think the new facility has been helpful.

“That was not a strength of ours (last year). We played hard, we battled, but we’re making shots now. We’ve got multiple people making shots, which makes us that much harder to guard.”

One of those shooters, freshman Josh Oglesby, had his coming out party against the Huskies. After making 1-of-9 attempts in his first two games, the Cedar Rapids native connected on 6-of-9 field goal attempts and 4-of-7 3-pointers en route to a career-high 16 points.

“I am a firm believer that a shooter has to have that type of green light to be the kind of player that they can be,” said McCaffery. “Josh has got great vision, the ability to put it on the floor and size. He is a weapon every time he catches the ball.”

The Hawkeyes have a variety of weapons up and down the roster. Five players are scoring in double figures with senior Matt Gatens leading the way at 16.3 per contest. Nine players are averaging more than 15 minutes per game.

“That’s the kind of team you have to have if you’re going to win, if you’re going to win on the road, if you’re going to win close games,” said McCaffery. “You have to have various people that are scoring. You can’t put so much pressure on 2-3 people every night to have to score, and if they don’t score, we can’t win.”

McCaffery is looking forward to facing Creighton in front of a packed arena in Des Moines.

“We hoped it would be a good crowd because our fans travel and their fans travel,” he said. “I think it should be a great one.”

Sunday’s game will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Brian Anderson and Kenyon Murray calling the action. Tickets are available and can be purchased at the Wells Fargo Arena box office by calling (866) 55-DAHLS or visiting dahltickets.com.