Jan. 25, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The never say die attitude displayed by the University of Iowa men’s basketball team at Ohio State on Tuesday was important for the Hawkeyes’ confidence, especially with another road game looming against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind.
“It was very important and very interesting at the same time,” UI head coach Fran McCaffery during Friday’s media teleconference. “If you look at the lineup we had on the floor, it wasn’t one that anyone predicted. It speaks to our versatility to the players we can play at any time.
“It was important for our confidence, and important for (Mike) Gesell and (Anthony) Clemmons to play well down the stretch. It was great for Gabe (Olaseni) and (Melsahn) Basabe because they haven’t played a ton together, and they were really good. It gives us a lot more things to look at as we move forward.”
Iowa (13-6, 2-4) faces the Boilermakers (10-9, 3-3) inside Mackey Arena on Sunday beginning at 2:36 p.m. (CT). Purdue started the season 4-6 before winning six of its last nine games. The Boilermakers are coming off a 68-53 road loss at No. 2 Michigan on Thursday night.
“When I make a change, it would be if I really felt it would help Adam to make a change. I feel comfortable with our starting lineup, so we’ll stick with what we have.”
UI head coach Fran McCaffery
“They’re really good defensively, and they really compete,” said McCaffery. “I have been really impressed with Terone Johnson and D.J. Byrd in particular. Both have the attack mentality. The freshmen have been tremendous.”
Johnson paces the Boilermakers with a 13.3 scoring average, while Byrd averages 10.5 points with a team-best 45 3-pointers. Purdue also starts freshmen A.J. Hammons, Ronnie Johnson and Rapheal Davis.
“Byrd is a mismatch,” said McCaffery. “He’s strong and powerful, he goes inside and rebounds and is a terrific 3-point shooter. The thing that impresses me is how he plays in the last five minutes. He becomes an elite player because of his mental toughness late.”
Junior Melsahn Basabe played a season-high 27 minutes in the Jan. 22 game at Ohio State, and McCaffery was impressed the forward was able to maintain his energy level.
“The good thing is he was able to maintain his stamina,” said McCaffery. “He has played tremendously in spurts, but he would tire because of the way he plays.
“He’s a runner, jumper, offensive rebounder and shot blocker, and it takes tremendous energy to play and impact the game that way. To be able to leave him out there and have him consistently perform at that level was really impressive.”
With freshman center Adam Woodbury going through some first-year growing pains, McCaffery says he has toyed with the idea of switching up his starting lineup.
“When I make a change, it would be if I really felt it would help Adam to make a change,” he said. “We feel comfortable with our starting lineup, so we’ll stick with what we have.”
McCaffery says he wants Woodbury to score, and Woodbury wants to score, but the freshman needs to focus on impacting the game in other ways.
“He can’t view himself as a success or failure purely on how many points he gets,” said McCaffery. “He’s a runner, rebounder, good passer and not a mistake guy. If he does all those things, and gets offensive rebounds, his offense will come around.”
Sunday’s game will be televised on the BTN with Justin Kutcher and Tim Doyle calling the action.