Roller Coaster Ride Resumes at Mackey

Jan. 17, 2012

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 has been riding a roller coaster of emotions leading into today’s game at Purdue.

“This past week was an interesting week for us,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery during Monday’s Big Ten teleconference. “We did not play well at Michigan State, and we played probably as well as we played all year against Michigan.

“We showed great maturity in terms of refocusing our preparation for the Michigan game. The next step is going to one of the most difficult road venues in the country against a team that is playing well. We have to refocus, reenergize and figure out a way to defend a team that we didn’t defend well last time we played them.”

The venue — Mackey Arena — hasn’t been kind to the Hawkeyes as of late. The Boilermakers have won the last four meetings in West Lafayette, Ind., with Iowa’s last victory coming on Feb. 1, 2006.

“We can’t be satisfied with .500. Let’s go get the next one and continue to keep fighting, grinding and keep working and get more wins. Anything can happen in this league.”
UI senior Matt Gatens

Purdue handed the Hawkeyes their first Big Ten loss of the season, downing Iowa, 79-76 in both team’s conference opener Dec. 28 in Iowa City. The Boilermakers shot 50 percent from the floor and made a living driving to the basket for point blank field goals.

“Terone Johnson was getting to the rim, Anthony Johnson was getting to the rim, as was Lewis Jackson,” said McCaffery. “(Ryne) Smith, (Robbie) Hummel and (John) Hart were hitting jumpers and (D.J.) Byrd probably had the best game of his season.

“They have a number of different weapons, they have guys different sizes, but it all starts with Lewis Jackson. He’s the guy that makes everything go.”

Jackson has started all 18 games for the Boilermakers at the point guard position, where he is averaging 9.8 points on 46.9 percent shooting. He also has a team-high 67 assists. Senior forward Robbie Hummel is pacing Purdue in scoring at 16 points.

The Hawkeyes are exceeding expectations through the first third of the conference season, posting a 3-3 record through six games. McCaffery said he didn’t know what his reaction would have been if he had been told three weeks ago that Iowa would be 3-3 through six games.

“That’s an interesting question,” he said. “The thing that’s interesting is the fact that we’ve won two games on the road. We know how hard it is to win on the road, and we showed some toughness in both of those games.

“The other side of it is we’ve had a number of ranked teams in the first six games. And it stands to reason that we would beat at least one of them, which we did. But if you’d ask me, would I take 3-3? I’d still say let’s play the games.”

The Hawkeyes are moving forward, but senior Matt Gatens says the team needs to not be complacent and continue building.

“We can’t be satisfied with .500,” he said. “Let’s go get the next one and continue to keep fighting, grinding and keep working and get more wins. Anything can happen in this league.”

The Big Ten Conference roller coaster ride resumes tonight. The game will be televised on the BTN beginning at 7:06 p.m. (CT) with Dave Revsine and Jim Jackson calling the action.