Shuffling it Up?

Dec. 2, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery has a decision to make regarding his starting line-up for Saturday’s game against Brown.

The second year head coach can stay with junior Eric May and let him play through his current slump, or insert freshman Josh Oglesby’s hot hand into the line-up. May has 14 points over the team’s last four games, while Oglesby paced the team with 15 points against Clemson and has led the team in scoring three times over the last five contests.

“I have not talked to him (Josh) about it yet, and it’s something that is being considered,” said McCaffery during a media teleconference Friday. “We haven’t made the move yet.”

McCaffery says it is a situation that needs to be handled delicately with the “big picture” in mind.

“From the outside people want to look and say `Well it makes sense, Josh is playing well, Eric is struggling a little bit, just make the move,’ but you have to look at the big picture,” said McCaffery. ” You have to figure out is that going to be the best thing for Josh? For Eric? For our team?

“I don’t want to put Josh in the starting lineup if it’s going to negatively affect Eric because Josh is fine coming off the bench, and Eric has been effective as a starter at times. He just hasn’t been effective recently. Those are the things we’re trying to do as a staff, and we’ll have a conversation with the players about it and go one way or the other.”

The Hawkeyes look to break out of their skid, where they have lost three of four games, against Brown on Saturday. The Bears bring a 4-4 overall record into the contest.

“Brown is a very well coached team, and they have really good shooters,” said McCaffery. “They’re a team capable of making 14 or 15 3-pointers.”

The Hawkeyes will need to shore up its 3-point defense against Brown. In its three losses this season, Iowa’s opponents have made 24 long balls, which includes 11 in Tuesday’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge defeat against Clemson.

“It’s going to take tremendous effort defensively on a consistent basis,” said McCaffery. “That’s been one of our biggest problems, we play defense at times very well, but we have not been consistently a good defense team because we haven’t sustained it.

“To beat Brown, you have to sustain defensive effort, concentration and execution. If we do, our offense will be that much better because when you’re getting stops it’s a lot better offensively than when you’re giving up buckets, trying to run on makes.”

McCaffery is pleased with the consistency sophomore Zach McCabe has shown early in the 2011-12 season. The forward is fourth on the team with 8.3 points, while also averaging 4.3 rebounds in 21.1 minutes.

“You could argue that he’s been, along with Matt Gatens, our most consistent player,” said McCaffery. “You look at his rebounding numbers, he’s not making mistakes, and he’s scoring baskets. He provides a toughness factor and brings a certain skill set that we need at that position.”

The Hawkeyes host Brown beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.