Dec. 31, 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 — When the University of Iowa men’s basketball team takes the court today at Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes know the show must go on.
Iowa missed on an opportunity to get off to a strong start in Big Ten Conference play, as it dropped a 79-76 decision at home against Purdue on Wednesday night.
“You have to forget about it and move on,” said senior Matt Gatens, who leads Iowa with a 13.8 scoring average. “Let it motivate you. You have to go to the next one because there are a lot of games coming up and a lot of ranked team.”
The Hawkeyes were right there the entire game against the Boilermakers, but they couldn’t get over the hump and make the key play down the stretch.
“We need to learn how to win when it comes down the stretch and make big plays,” said Gatens. “Getting stops and pulling in rebounds. That’s something this team needs to learn and when you do those things you win more games.”
Another key to winning games is defense.
“We have to contain penetration. It all starts there,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “The guy guarding the ball has to keep that guy in front of them. Then we can talk about help recovery and closeouts, post defense and things of that nature.”
“It’s an intensity level, we need to step it up on defense,” said Gatens. “To a man, guard the guy in front of you and help guys out if they go to help.”
Iowa will be in for a challenge at the Kohl Center, facing a Wisconsin team known for slowing the game down, and making the opposing team defend throughout the shot clock.
“Everybody knows what they do,” said Gatens. “They’ll try to slow down. They’re going to grind us out and run the shot clock down and try to frustrate us. We need to keep the guy in front of us and don’t let them make plays. It is going to take a total team effort, not just the one guy on the ball.”
Sophomore Roy Devyn Marble says the Hawkeyes showed stretches of solid defense against Purdue.
“There were stretches where we played really good defense, and Purdue just made tough shots,” said Marble, who is averaging 11.4 points on 45 percent shooting. “Every team is not going to make shots like that down the stretch, so you just have to knuckle down and really bear down and play defense.”
Marble and Wisconsin guard Ben Brust will be reunited to a degree on Saturday. Both were expected to be a part of the current sophomore class with the Hawkeyes, but Brust reopened his recruitment and ended up in Madison following the departure of former UI head coach Todd Lickliter.
“He’s over there, I am over here,” said Marble. “At the end of the day, I am a competitor, so I am going to still go out there and try to beat him.”
Today’s game is slated to begin at 12 p.m., and it will be televised on the BTN with Eric Collins and Jim Jackson calling the action.