Dec. 5, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery is eager to see how tough his Hawkeyes are; he’ll get a better idea following his team’s first road test at Northern Iowa on Tuesday.
“(It will show) how tough you are,” said McCaffery during a teleconference Monday morning. “You’re going to have to really concentrate and stay together. Anytime you go on the road, especially when you’re playing a really good team, you have to be together. You have to compete together. That’s what I am looking forward to seeing.”
The Hawkeyes confidence is on the rise following Saturday’s 75-54 victory over Brown, a game in which seven different UI players scored at least eight points.
“We feel better about ourselves because I am not sure we were playing like a confident bunch before that game,” said McCaffery. “Certainly, we weren’t shooting the ball like a confident bunch. You can’t go on the road and win without making shots.
“I don’t look at it that we’re going to try to force our style of play. We’re going to come into this game and try to win. Are we going to run some? Yeah. Are we going to press some? Yeah. It’s a matter of making sure we do what we need to do to win the game and not worry about if we’re winning by running or not.”
UI head coach Fran McCaffery
“We are feeling better after a win. We played good defense, shot it better, but now we have to do it on the road against a team that is 7-1.”
The Panthers enter Tuesday’s game riding a three-game winning streak, which includes a 69-62 victory at Iowa State last week. UNI’s lone loss came at St. Mary’s in the early morning hours of ESPN’s “College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon on Nov. 14.
“They have been really impressive,” said McCaffery. “You can tell that by looking at their record. Any time you have a team that has many guys that can make shots, they’re a hard team to prepare for, a hard team to defend.”
Competing against a Panther team that prides itself on “possession basketball”, McCaffery says his Iowa team will need to value the ball.
“You have to come down and have quality possessions, you’ve got to move the ball, screen and get good shots,” said McCaffery. “You have to understand how to manage the game.”
One of the keys to the game, defensively, is constant communication.
“We stress this all the time, but maybe as important in this game as any other, is communication defensively,” said McCaffery. “You have to talk to each other. We have five guys that have to play defense together to stop what they do.
“It’s the only way to survive. If anyone breaks down or takes a possession off, they’re going to score. It’s that simple.”
McCaffery said playing at the McLeod Center for the team’s first road game will be a challenge.
“It’s not an easy place to play by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “They play well there and shoot it well there. They derive a lot of energy from the crowd. It’s a situation where you really are going to have to compete.”
The Hawkeyes will still try to push the tempo against the Panthers, but not to the detriment of the team.
“I don’t look at it that we’re going to try to force our style of play,” said McCaffery. “We’re going to come into this game and try to win. Are we going to run some? Yeah. Are we going to press some? Yeah.
“It’s a matter of making sure we do what we need to do to win the game and not worry about if we’re winning by running or not.”
The game, deemed the “RMHC Classic presented by the Eastern Iowa Elite Chevy Dealers”, has a goal of raising awareness, funding and donations for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa.
“To create awareness for such an incredible charity, one that I have been involved with, my wife, Margaret, has been involved with,” said McCaffery. “It is such a phenomenal cause, and I am proud to be a part of it, and I hope everyone participates to the best of their ability.”
Tuesday’s game is set to begin at 7:05 p.m., and it will be televised on KWWL with Rob Brooks, Kevin Lehman and Rick Coleman calling the action.