Feb. 25, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Pressure to be one of 68 teams to advance to the NCAA Tournament in men’s basketball makes losing close games “feel that much worse” University of Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said Monday.
McCaffery met with media two days after the Hawkeyes (17-10 overall, 6-8 Big Ten) squandered a 19-point lead and lost at Nebraska. Iowa has a chance to get back in the win column Wednesday when it hosts Purdue (13-14, 6-8) on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“(Getting in the NCAA Tournament) is the standard that everybody looks at. Your goal is to get in,” McCaffery said. “When you fall short, you lose a game you had a chance to win, it makes you feel that much worse.”
Purdue defeated the Hawkeyes 65-62 in overtime Jan. 27. Since then, Iowa has gone 4-3, the Boilermakers 1-5.
“We tend to get carried away sometimes with winning streaks and losing streaks. It’s purely a function of who you’re playing,” McCaffery said. “We have to make sure that we play a little bit better than we have been playing, in particular at the offensive end of the floor.”
The offensive end of the floor is where Iowa converted just 28 percent of the time from the field over the final 20 minutes at Nebraska. Meanwhile, the Cornhuskers shot 62.5 percent in the second half.
“(Getting in the NCAA Tournament) is the standard that everybody looks at. Your goal is to get in. When you fall short, you lose a game you had a chance to win, it makes you feel that much worse.”
UI head basketball coach
“That’s not a good formula to hold onto a lead,” McCaffery said.
McCaffery said the mood was “pretty quiet” after the Nebraska game, and even though he challenged the Hawkeyes after the game, the real test for the team is:
“Where do we go from here? That’s to be determined,” McCaffery said.
Several questions from reporters dealt with freshman center Adam Woodbury, who is averaging 4.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 27 games. He has also committed 65 fouls. In the last five games, Woodbury has scored 14 points with 15 fouls, and he was held scoreless with three fouls at Nebraska.
“He is going to be physical, aggressive,” McCaffery said. “He has got to figure out how to be physical without using his hands, because that’s what has been getting him in foul trouble.”
Woodbury pulled down 22 boards during that five-game stretch, including seven against both Wisconsin and Penn State.
“If I played him a ton of minutes and he stayed out of foul trouble, he would lead the league in rebounding,” McCaffery said. “When he is on the floor, he has been effective. His minutes have been limited by his foul trouble. That’s going to come with experience.”
“It’s critical, you need experience,” McCaffery said. “It’s great. The more guys you have that have been through the wars in this league, have been able to be in a position where they have made a mistake, miss a shot, they’re not afraid to come down and take a shot and make it, that’s just part of it.”
Iowa, the first team since 1998-99 to play six Big Ten games decided by six points or less, returns home for three of its final four regular-season games. Tip-off against the Boilermakers on Feb. 27 is scheduled for 7:36 p.m. (CT); the game will be televised by BTN with Eric Collins and Shon Morris calling the action.