March 1, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — There aren’t many chinks in top-ranked Indiana’s armor, that was University of Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery’s message heading into Saturday’s game in Assembly Hall.
“They have shooters, drivers, tremendous point guard play, depth at point guard, defenders, size, length, low post scorers and developed depth,” McCaffery said during a Friday media teleconference. “In every possible way, they’re going to challenge our basketball team.”
The Hawkeyes and Hoosiers square off at 6:36 p.m. (CT) in Bloomington, Ind. It is McCaffery’s second career matchup against a No. 1-ranked team, as he led Iowa to Columbus, Ohio, to face No. 1 Ohio State on Jan. 19, 2011. The Hawkeyes lost, 70-48.
Indiana brings a 24-4 overall and 12-3 Big Ten Conference record into the game. The Hoosiers lost 77-73 at Minnesota on Feb. 26 in a game where IU’s top scorer Cody Zeller (16.3 ppg.) was limited to nine points on 2-of-9 shooting.
“It is a tremendous opportunity and fortunately in our conference, we get tremendous opportunities all the time to play the No. 1 team and top-five, top-10 and top-25 teams. This is a great challenge for our program as we continue to grow, to go on the road in this kind of environment and play a team that is hungry.”
UI head coach Fran McCaffery
“I don’t look at it like he’s going to play extra hard because they lost the last game or they’re going to go to him more,” said McCaffery. “They go to him, they’ve gone to him, and they’re going to go to him. He’s a handful. When you prepare for Indiana, you have to prepare for him, as well as a number of other players.
Along with Zeller, three other Hoosiers are averaging in double digits. Guard Victor Oladipo, a rising candidate for the National Player of the Year, is averaging 14.1 points, forward Christian Watford averages 13 points, and guard Jordan Hulls scores 11 points a game. Sixth man Will Sheehey averages 9.9 points.
“It is a tremendous opportunity and fortunately in our conference, we get tremendous opportunities all the time to play the No. 1 team and top-five, top-10 and top-25 teams,” said McCaffery. “This is a great challenge for our program as we continue to grow, to go on the road in this kind of environment and play a team that is hungry.”
With freshman guard Mike Gesell being sidelined with a foot injury, McCaffery elected to shift junior Roy Devyn Marble to the point, insert sophomore Josh Oglesby into the starting lineup, and keep freshman Anthony Clemmons coming off the bench in Wednesday’s 58-48 victory over Purdue — Iowa’s 18th win this season.
“Josh was playing well,” said McCaffery. “I felt like I wanted to go with Devyn as the starter and bringing Clemmons off the bench would be best for him.”
During his sophomore season, Marble gained experience at the point guard position and exceled. He averaged 11.5 points and 3.6 assists per game. Marble is averaging 13.8 points per game this season, but 18.8 over the last five contests. He scored 18 points against the Boilermakers.
“A lot of scorers that are playing point want to have the ball because they want to be able to shoot it whenever they want,” said McCaffery. “In his case, that’s not who he is. If he’s playing the point, he is trying to run our offense. He’ll recognize he needs to get a shot off or when we need him to score, but he’s not a guy that constantly hunts his own baskets.”
McCaffery says Gesell will not play sooner than the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held in Chicago from March 14-17.
“We’re hoping he plays then, that’s the plan,” said McCaffery. “My understanding is they’re going to do another MRI, and we’ll see where it is. There is a possibility, although a small possibility, that they’ll shut him down then.
“He’s in a boot, getting treatment two or three times a day, and it will get better. In the off chance it doesn’t, we’ll need to take another look at it to see if it’s improving how we want it to.”
Saturday’s game will be televised on the Big Ten Network (BTN2GO) with Kevin Kugler, Jim Jackson and Stephanie White calling the action.