March 12, 2013
- Tuesday interviews as Iowa gets ready for Northwestern
- Video interview with A. White
- Video interview with G. Olaseni
- Video interview with M. Gesell
- Read the March issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPad/iPhone app!
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
IOWA CITY, Iowa — You don’t close out a Big Ten Conference regular season by winning 6-of-8 games and handing out assists on nearly 64 percent of all made field goals without having good camaraderie.
The University of Iowa men’s basketball team heads into its postseason matchup against Northwestern as a tight-knit group…and one that has gained momentum at the right time of year.
The Hawkeyes (20-11 overall) look for their third win of the season against Northwestern (13-18) at approximately 8 p.m. (CT) Thursday in Chicago’s United Center.
Iowa earned its first league win at Northwestern on Jan. 13, and compiled 22 assists on 29 made field goals. The second time the teams met — Feb. 9 in Iowa City — the Hawkeyes were again victorious, and they again distributed the ball with 16 assists on 24 field goals. In the two wins, Iowa was credited with assists 71.7 percent of the time.
“It shows in the numbers,” UI sophomore Aaron White said. “The assists-to-field goals-made is always high game-in and game-out. That’s how we work. Everyone is unselfish sharing the ball — we like playing with each other. It’s a good component of our team.”
“I don’t care what team, what sport, if you have any issues at all, it’s going to derail your attempt to make any kind of progress. We have none of those issues. It’s enjoyable to come to work every day to work with these guys. They want to get better. They listen. They accept constructive criticism. They continue to persevere through any kind of adversity. They encourage one another.”
UI basketball coach
For the season, the Hawkeyes have 475 assists on 744 field goals (63.8 percent). The last time an Iowa team had a higher assist-to-field goal ratio was during the 25-season of 2005-06 (64.3 percent).
“I don’t care what team, what sport, if you have any issues at all, it’s going to derail your attempt to make any kind of progress,” UI head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We have none of those issues. It’s enjoyable to come to work every day to work with these guys. They want to get better. They listen. They accept constructive criticism. They continue to persevere through any kind of adversity. They encourage one another.”
Freshman point guard Mike Gesell is second on the team with 2.93 assists per game, trailing only freshman Anthony Clemmons, who averages 3.13 assists in 31 games. Gesell has missed the last four games with a stress reaction in his foot. He is scheduled to return to the court against Northwestern after being relegated to sitting in street clothes on the bench while the Hawkeyes went 3-1 in his absence.
“It’s difficult, but at the same time they have been playing well,” Gesell said. “I’ve been cheering them on, and I’m happy to see them get the Ws. I want what’s best for this team, and I want to help the team any way I can.”
UI sophomore center Gabriel Olaseni has stepped up over the last four games, averaging 18 minutes, three points, three blocked shots, and 2.8 rebounds a game. Only twice during the previous 26 games had Olaseni played 18 or more minutes in a game, and that was during back-to-back contests against South Carolina State and Coppin State.
“The team chemistry is great,” Olaseni said. “Everyone supports each other, everyone gives each other extra advice, it doesn’t matter if you’re a senior or a freshman; everyone respects your opinion. We’re a very vocal team, and we’re very confident in each other’s abilities.”
If Iowa is going to capture a Big Ten Tournament championship, it will have to win four games in four days. That will require a deep bench that shares minutes and shares the basketball.
“There is no, `Wow, I should be out there’ or `When is he going to put me back in?'” McCaffery said. “(They know that when) our guys are rolling, that’s great for us. When they’re in there, they’ll be hooting and hollering for me.”