March 3, 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 — Matt Gatens has been the talk of the league, and country, after a recent shooting barrage and helping lift the Iowa men’s basketball team to three wins in their last four games. Gatens and the Hawkeyes look to carry that momentum into today’s regular-season finale against Northwestern at 1:30 p.m. on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Last week, Gatens scored 85 points in three games and on Wednesday was voted by America the “Capital One Impact Performer of the Week” via voting on ESPN.com.
Gatens’ shooting performances have been well documented the past week. After leading the Hawkeyes to back-to-back wins over ranked opponents, the senior was asked if those were the best games of his career.
“Points-wise, probably, but as far as an all-around game, probably not because I didn’t have as many steals, rebounds or assists as I would have liked. The fans were great; it was an electric atmosphere and the greatest thing about it was that we got two wins over quality opponents.” said a humble Gatens.
Its comments like that that make the 6-foot-5 guard respected so much by his teammates and a two-time team captain.
Gatens has been a model of consistency in all aspects throughout his four-year Hawkeye career. He has a long list of accolades, but none is more impressive than joining Roy Marble as the only Hawkeyes to amass 1,500+ points, 400+ rebounds, 250+ assists and 125+ steals.
“It’ll be an emotional time for family and friends of all us seniors. Hopefully we can channel the energy into a positive performance on the court and get another win for our fans. It would be a special day for us to get a win on ‘Senior Day’ and have some momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament.”
UI senior Matt Gatens
Posting such glowing statistical numbers across the board puts Gatens alongside one of the all-time Hawkeye greats. Getting to be a more polished player, Gatens said he devoted a lot of time and energy on the defensive side of the ball coming off his wrist injury at the start of his junior season.
“I was struggling coming off my injury,” said Gatens. “I talked with coach McCaffery and he said it starts on defense. In order to see more time on the court I needed to play better defense and I really bought into it. I took both sides of the court seriously and enjoyed taking a different approach.”
McCaffery says that Gatens has been phenomenally consistent, not only in terms of performance but more importantly his work ethic.
“He has set an example for our young players of how to prepare, how to work and how to do it year-round,” said McCaffery. “That is something that any new coach can really appreciate. To be able to go out there and see him perform at this level is a great feeling because you know he’s really earned it.”
Gatens takes tremendous pride in playing a complete game each time on the court.
“Getting the assists, rebounds, points and steals shows what type of complete player you are,” said Gatens. “There are a lot of guys who can shoot the ball and make threes but they can’t defend or see the open guy in the lane. That’s something I take a lot of pride in, trying to play a complete game all the time. Some times its more points and rebounds than steals and assists, but it’s good to put in an all-around effort to help the team in as many ways as possible.”
McCaffery said that Gatens has been able to perform at a high level in all areas due to his conditioning.
“The first thing he did over the summer was that he got into the best shape of his life,” said McCaffery. “He’s capable of defending the other team’s top perimeter threat, getting a bunch of points, feeding the post, valuing the basketball and sticking his nose in on the glass. He has the experience; he’s got the personality; he doesn’t rattle. What that does is it helps the rest of our guys immensely because we have a lot of young guys on the roster.”
Gatens and his classmates Devon Archie, Andrew Brommer and Bryce Cartwright will be honored prior to today’s game with a senior ceremony on Mediacom Court. Gatens said that he looks forward to walking out of the tunnel with the Hawkeye uniform on one more time this afternoon.
“It’ll be an emotional time for family and friends of all us seniors,” said Gatens. “Hopefully we can channel the energy into a positive performance on the court and get another win for our fans. It would be a special day for us to get a win on ‘Senior Day’ and have some momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament.”
Although Gatens’ Hawkeye career is winding down, he and his teammates are determined to finish strong and compete in the postseason.
“I’ve met some great people and built great relationships,” said Gatens. “I’ve learned a lot on and off the court. It’s a fulfilling feeling with it starting to come together and having more success. We want that success to continue in the coming weeks.”