Feb. 3, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — While most of the pregame dialogue before Saturday’s men’s basketball contest between the University of Iowa and Penn State is about short shorts and slowing Nittany Lion guard Tim Frazier, UI head coach Fran McCaffery wants to talk consistency.
More specifically, he wants to see consistent play from his Hawkeye team that is fresh off a 63-59 victory against Minnesota on Feb. 1 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“The challenge for us is becoming more consistent with what we’re doing,” McCaffery said Friday at a gathering with reporters in the media room inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “We’ve proven we can play with anybody. We’ve proven that we can play well for long periods of time. But we talked more about defense recently, being able to do that consistently. You have to understand, you need to play defense, run your break, and execute your offense. Once you’re doing all of those things consistently, you’re going to win consistently.”
So far this season, the Hawkeyes have registered four victories against three teams with a Ratings Percentage Index of 51 or above. On Dec. 31, Iowa defeated No. 11 Wisconsin, 72-65, in Madison. The Badgers currently have an RPI of 19. On Jan. 14, Iowa knocked off No. 13 Michigan, 75-59, at home. The Wolverines have an RPI of 14. The Hawkeyes have two wins against Minnesota (RPI of 51) — 64-62 on Jan. 4 in Minneapolis, and 63-59 Wednesday in Iowa City.
“I think it shows you exactly what we’re capable of,” McCaffery said. “I think in some ways it defines the frustration that we have at times, because there’s times when we haven’t played up to our capabilities.”
Iowa (12-11 overall, 4-6 Big Ten) looks to win back-to-back league games for the second time this season when it hosts Penn State (10-13, 2-8) and its dynamic guard, Frazier, on Saturday, with a 2:05 p.m. (CT) tip from Mediacom Court.
“The challenge for us is becoming more consistent with what we’re doing. We’ve proven we can play with anybody. We’ve proven that we can play well for long periods of time. But we talked more about defense recently, being able to do that consistently. You have to understand, you need to play defense, run your break, and execute your offense. Once you’re doing all of those things consistently, you’re going to win consistently.”
UI head basketball coach
Frazier, a junior from Houston, enters the game averaging 18 points, 6.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds a game. He leads the league in assists and is second in scoring and steals (2.3 per game).
“He’s a handful and it takes a total team effort to stop a guy like that,” UI senior guard Matt Gatens said. “He’s quick, good in the lane and he gets to the free throw line a lot. He’s aggressive.”
“(Frazier) affects the game in so many ways, so defending him isn’t a one-man job,” UI senior guard Bryce Cartwright said. “He is quick and deceptive. He’s a good player and he has to be for them to be successful.”
This is the first of two meetings in 12 days between the teams. McCaffery and the Hawkeyes are aware that the last time a two-win conference team came to Iowa City (Nebraska on Jan. 26), the opponent left with a 79-73 victory.
“Every game concerns me,” McCaffery said. “Every team in this league is really good. Some are a little bit better than others, and that will be determined over time. (Penn State) has good players. They’ve got a good coach (Patrick Chambers). They know what they’re doing. They compete. They play hard. They’re athletic. It would be tough for any team in our league to beat them.”
In their only meeting last season, Penn State used a 36-23 scoring edge in the final 20 minutes to win 65-51 in the Bryce Jordan Center. Frazier played 31 minutes and scored three points with six assists and four rebounds.
The Hawkeyes will wear gold throwback jerseys Saturday and the 30-win team of 1986-87 will be recognized before the game. Jersey styles 25 years ago were a bit, shall we say, skimpy or scanty, compared to 2012? The team has already practiced in the new uniforms, and Gatens said, “They’re awesome.”
But what about the length of the shorts?
“They’re not way up there, I thought they felt pretty normal,” Gatens said. “We’ll see and let the fans decide. It will be fine.”
Don’t look for McCaffery to dust off any of the clothing he wore during the 1987-88 season while he was head coach at Lehigh.
“No,” he said when asked if he was going retro. “I think I’ll go with what I have in my closet. Of course, I could probably find something.”
The game will be broadcast live by the Big Ten Network with Mark Brown and Tim McCormick calling the action. It can be heard on XM Satellite Radio 192 and on the Hawkeye Radio Network.