Jan. 30, 2012
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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 — Back in late August coach Fran McCaffery brought in two former Marines, Eric Kapitulik and Tom Ripley, to work with the University of Iowa men’s basketball team in leadership and team building going through a series of physically intense exercises called “The Program.”
After last night’s game at Indiana, the Hawkeyes are hitting the last half of their conference schedule with nine games remaining. Iowa has lost its last three games and is in the middle of playing three games in seven days.
Freshman forward Aaron White, who has improved his scoring and rebounding production as the season has progressed, said the team can draw upon what the team did in “The Program” to help push forward and get back on track.
“We’ve lost a couple games lately, but we have to stick together, as we learned this summer,” said White. “You have to accomplish this as a group, not individually, so we can look back on that and go out and try to win as a team this week.
“That experience brought us closer together. Some leaders stood out from it. Accomplishing those exercises as a team, and a unit, helped us.”
“The Program” is a two-day exercise that strengthens personal and leadership development, and team-building through shared adversity. The players did a series of exercises that required them to communicate with each other and provide positive reinforcement.
Matt Gatens, who has scored in double figures the last five games, said Kapitulik and Ripley taught the team valuable lessons they can apply in practices and games.
“We can draw upon the exercises that we did, trusting each other and fighting through adversity,” said Gatens.
Gatens believes “The Program” was a good eye-opener, especially for the underclassmen.
“It got us on the right page of how hard you have to work to be successful, and it was good for all of us,” he said.
By utilizing the team-building exercise, McCaffery wanted to set the tone for this season.
“I wanted to set the tone right away for this team,” he said. “‘The Program’ develops mental toughness, but more importantly, it really emphasizes how you care for one another, what a team is supposed to be and how you compete, how you lead and when you do it.”
Sophomore Roy Devyn Marble believed the experience of “The Program” taught him a lot about being a leader.
“It helped a lot in my development,” said Marble. “It showed me that I have leadership qualities. I never really took on a big leadership role. I’ve always led by example, that’s the key to everything. ‘The Program’ taught me that I can also be vocal at the same time.”
Junior Eric May says getting back in the win column will require focus on each opponent individually.
“We need to keep moving forward and not dwell on what happened in the past,” said May. “You have to take these games one at a time. You can’t have the mindset that we are playing three games in seven days, we need to concentrate on the game that is right in front of us and get after it.
“‘The Program’ taught us some good lessons, one of which is to encourage each other using positive reinforcement, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Iowa has two days to prepare for Wednesday’s game against Minnesota, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students.