Dec. 28, 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 — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team knows it faces a new challenge with the start of Big Ten Conference play, but they’re ready to get it underway.
“I definitely think we’re ready for Big Ten play,” said sophomore Melsahn Basabe. “We’re a different team and we’re stepping to another level. We’re taking the right steps to approach the next level as a team.”
The Hawkeyes are beaming with confidence heading into tonight’s Big Ten opener against Purdue. Iowa is riding a three game winning streak, downing Drake (82-68), Central Arkansas (105-64) and Boise State (81-72) to push it record to 8-5 on the season.
“We’re at a level where we’re competing hard and doing what it takes to win games,” said sophomore Roy Devyn Marble. “For us to have to grind out a game (against Boise State) was a good thing because we are not going to blow Purdue out.
“It’s anybody’s game, and we should believe that we can beat anybody in the Big Ten.”
Sophomore Melsahn Basabe
“They’re going to keep coming and you’re going to have to grind that game out to get a win. Us having grind out a game has helped us know how to win and close out a game.”
Marble, who has averaged 15.5 points and 7.3 assists over the past six games, is ready to take his game to another level against a higher level of competition.
“The competition goes up three levels, so I am going to go up three levels,” said Marble. “I am not worried about who I am playing against. I come out with the same mindset and prepare myself the same way every game. I don’t care who is in front of me.
“It could be Lewis Jackson (Purdue) or Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin) — both great players — but I am not going to play different just because I am playing against those guys. I want to make them play my game.”
It is fitting that Iowa hosts Purdue in its conference opener. In last season’s regular season finale, the Hawkeyes posted their signature win of the season against the Boilermakers, downing the nation’s No. 6 team, 67-65.
“This game is going to be fun,” said Marble. “They’re going to come in pretty mad because we spoiled their Big Ten Championship last year. They’re going to try to make a statement, but we have to hold our ground.
“We’re at home, so we have to play with the same confidence and swagger we’ve been playing with and continue to be comfortable and play our own basketball.”
The Hawkeyes know they’re in for a grueling 18-game conference schedule, but they’re a confident group heading into the league slate.
“It’s anybody’s game, and we should believe that we can beat anybody in the Big Ten,” said Basabe.
“I expect big things,” said senior guard Matt Gatens. “We have to go into every game and expect to win. When we were struggling, I told the guys there is not a game on our schedule that I don’t think we can win.
“It’s a long year, anything can happen. It’s a tough schedule coming up, a lot of great games, a lot of good teams, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Tonight’s game is slated to begin at 8:36 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised on the BTN with Eric Collins and Tim Doyle calling the action.