Gatens Wants to Make It a Weekend

March 7, 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 — University of Iowa men’s basketball senior Matt Gatens was in attendance when the Hawkeyes won the 2001 Big Ten Tournament in Chicago and during the 2002 season when Iowa finished as the Big Ten Tournament runner-up in Indianapolis. He’s looking to help Iowa create some more memories.

“I was there the one time (in 2001) until Saturday that we won it,” said Gatens, who was named second team All-Big Ten on Monday. “Then I was there when Luke (Recker) hit all those shots, and we lost to Ohio State in the finals.

“I grew up watching teams have success in the tournament, and I want to be a part of that. I’m looking forward to trying to do that this weekend.”

The Hawkeyes enter Thursday’s first round game as the No. 8 seed where they square off against ninth-seeded Illinois at 10:30 a.m. (CT) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

For Iowa to finish as Big Ten Tournament champions, it will require the team to win four games in four games, a difficult, but not impossible feat.

“It’s really hard,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery of winning four games in four days. “It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen. I’ve had kids that I thought were capable of doing it. We’ve made some noise but never accomplished it completely. We’ve gone three in three days a number of times, and that’s hard to do.

“It’s one of those things where if you’re playing well, playing intelligently, defending and staying with the game plan, and your key guys are doing what they’re supposed to do and you’re getting contributions from the bench, then it can happen. It’s possible.”

Sophomore Roy Devyn Marble knows it will be a challenge, but he’s focused on taking it game-by-game, minute-by-minute.

“It’s a task, but you have to take it one game at a time,” said Marble, who averages 11.1 points and 3.6 assists per game. “It’s not going to be easy. We are just trying to look at Illinois right now.

“You have to take each game one at a time. It’s not that it is impossible or it can’t be done, but you can’t look past any opponent.”

While the four teams with byes — Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin — have an advantage, freshman Aaron White still thinks the tournament title could be up for grabs.

“The four teams that got byes are probably the favorites in some people’s eyes, but I honestly think anybody can win it and make a run, just like Penn State did last year,” said White, a Big Ten All-Freshman and honorable mention all-conference selection. “They made the finals and nobody thought that would happen.”

After bowing out in the first round in each of his first three seasons, Gatens is looking for the opportunity to soak in the atmosphere in Indianapolis for more than one day.

“It’s a great atmosphere, great arena, great city to host it,” he said. “It has been a lot of fun, and I’d like to enjoy it more than one game this time and make a weekend of it.”

Thursday’s game will be televised on the BTN with Gus Johnson, Shon Morris and Lisa Byington calling the action.