Dec. 8, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery expects a great atmosphere Friday when the Hawkeyes complete the back-to-back road portion of their in-state schedule.
Iowa (5-4 overall) plays at Iowa State (6-3) on Dec. 9, with a 7:05 p.m. (CT) tip from inside Hilton Coliseum in Ames. Iowa State has won the last two meetings, the teams have split the last 12 games, and the Hawkeyes hold a 42-22 edge in the all-time series.
“There are fans of both schools throughout the state that go to both games that are passionate about both programs,” McCaffery said Thursday during a 19-minute teleconference. “It’s as good of a rivalry as you’re going to have for two teams that aren’t in the same conference. To me, the definition of a true rivalry is, `I have to go through you to win a championship, you have to go through me to win a championship.’ That’s not the case with us and Iowa State, but we have played, and we continue to play and play one year here, one year there, it’s a great rivalry in other sports, that gives people something to talk about — it’s going to be a great atmosphere Friday night.”
This is the third intra-state game for the Cyclones and the second for Iowa. Iowa State lost at Drake, 74-65, on Nov. 15, and lost at Northern Iowa, 69-62, on Nov. 30. The Hawkeyes were defeated at UNI, 80-60, on Tuesday.
“It’s as good of a rivalry as you’re going to have for two teams that aren’t in the same conference. To me, the definition of a true rivalry is, `I have to go through you to win a championship, you have to go through me to win a championship.’ That’s not the case with us and Iowa State, but we have played, and we continue to play and play one year here, one year there, it’s a great rivalry in other sports, that gives people something to talk about.”
UI head basketball coach
Iowa State has four players averaging double figures in points: Royce White (14.8), Chris Allen (13.4), Chris Babb (11.3) and Tyrus McGee (10.3). While White shoots 52.6 percent from the field, Babb (27 3-pointers), Chris Allen (20), McGee (19) and Scott Christopherson (13) are feasting from outside.
“Those are the hardest teams to guard,” McCaffery said of the Cyclones. “Not only do you have experienced, talented 3-point shooters, you have a big strong post guy that can go in and out and when he goes out they have some other guys like (Melvin) Ejim, (Anthony) Booker, (Percy) Gibson — other pieces that can score inside if Royce goes outside. We have to adjust to what lineup is on the floor and try to do a better job guarding the 3, and try to contain a guy that is really talented.”
McCaffery said he wouldn’t rule out that senior point guard Bryce Cartwright plays some minutes at Iowa State, but it is a long shot. The Hawkeyes might continue to rest Cartwright and give him a full week to heal before a game against Drake on Dec. 17. Cartwright is averaging 6.8 points and a team-high 4.3 assists while playing nearly 25 minutes a game.
He will be replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore Roy Devyn Marble, who drew rave reviews for McCaffery. In his first start of the season at UNI on Tuesday, Marble scored a team-high 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting with four assists in 37 minutes.
“He’s getting better and better. I thought he was spectacular (against UNI),” McCaffery said. “What he did…he pushed it, he defended, he had the stamina to play those kinds of minutes, his assist-to-turnover numbers are tremendous. He made some steals in key situations, he was a catalyst at both ends of the floor for our team — he’s maturing right before your eyes.”
Production from players like Marble could free senior Matt Gatens to get more — and better — looks at the basket. Gatens averages a team-best 13.8 points a game, but his last double-digit scoring effort was 22 against IPFW four games ago.
“He’s getting mugged, that’s the bottom line,” McCaffery said. “Teams are keying on him, they’re staying home on him, they’re holding him off the ball, they’re going after him. So what we have to do is set him up. We have to screen for him, he has to get some help, too. Some other guys have to step up and score; we just have to get more guys scoring the ball more consistently to keep them honest and keep them away from him.”
The Hawkeyes also look to improve on their 3-point figures — both offensively and defensively. During the first nine games, opponents have made 11 more 3-pointers than that Hawkeyes, while shooting 2.6-percentage points higher.
“It’s a concern and it’s something we’re trying to address,” McCaffery said. “Our ball-screen defense has not been what it needs to be. We’ve worked on that and we’ve worked on close-outs. A large concern also is that we’re not making as many 3s…they’re pushing up on Gatens and (freshman Josh) Oglesby big-time, so we’re going to need some other guys to step up. I think Eric May can do that, I think Aaron White can do that.”