Nov. 7, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — There was a familiar topic at UI head coach Fran McCaffery’s press conference Wednesday: depth.
For the first time in recent memory, the Hawkeye men’s basketball team is deep and can press its opponents as it desires. That depth was on display in last Sunday’s 100-54 exhibition victory over Quincy. Iowa scored the game’s first 22 points and notched 41 points off 31 turnovers.
“Most importantly, when you look at the pressure on Sunday, it was way more intense than anything we were able to do last year,” said McCaffery as he met with reporters in the Media Room at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “At the start of the game we were running around and getting up in them, and jumped them 22-0.
“Those guys came off the floor at the 16 minute mark, and the next group came in and did the same thing, and that’s harder to play against. That was fun for me to watch, and hopefully it will stay that way.”
The third-year head coach is getting a better feel for the rotation leading into the outset of the regular season.
“That second group is real close, and there are guys on that second group that want to be on the first group, and that’s what makes everybody better,” said McCaffery. “There’s probably going to be times where you’re really not sure who the first group and the second group is, and that’s a good thing.
“Most importantly, when you look at the pressure on Sunday, it was way more intense than anything we were able to do last year. At the start of the game we were running around and getting up in them, and jumped them 22-0. Those guys came off the floor at the 16 minute mark, and the next group came in and did the same thing, and that’s harder to play against. That was fun for me to watch, and hopefully it will stay that way.”
UI head basketball coach
“For me, it’ll be an interesting challenge all season long to make sure we manage these 10 players effectively.”
If it works out like last Sunday, the rotation will work itself out.
“We’re going to play 10, no question,” he said. “We won’t ever get in a situation where some guy is saying I should be playing more. They’re going to be playing and they’re going to be exhausted. Whenever I took anybody out on Sunday, nobody was upset. Everybody was tired when I took them out.”
The depth has led to strong competition for playing time in practice. The head Hawkeye sees this as nothing but a positive.
“The practices are more competitive,” said McCaffery. “In particular, when you look at Mike Gesell’s development, Anthony Clemmons guards him every day in practice incredibly tough. He’s coming after his job every day, and it keeps Mike at a point where he really has to focus and concentrate on everything he does at every moment that he’s out there. And that’s the only way you get ready to play point guard at this level.”
The old adage is practice like you play, and vice-versa. Good competition in practice only improves chances of success on the game floor.
“If you’re coasting through practice and putting up numbers, then all of a sudden you get in a game and you realize it’s a lot harder,” said McCaffery. “When you’re challenged every day, it’s not quite the same difference, and you see that across the board.
“Aaron White and Jared Uthoff were going at it yesterday, and it was one of the best one on one match ups I’ve seen since I’ve been here. They were just really testing each other. Both are talented, both are competitors, and it was good for both of them, and I think that’s what we’re talking about here, what’s better for our team.
“The reality in life is you’ve got to keep working, you’ve got to keep preparing, and you’ve got to understand that every time you take the floor somebody is coming after you. If you’re dealing with that every day, you’ll be much better able to handle it twice a week.”
The Hawkeyes play their first four regular-season contests on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa opens the 2012-13 campaign Friday night, hosting Texas-Pan American at 8 p.m.