Dec. 30, 2013
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When the Big Ten Conference grind begins Tuesday against Nebraska, University of Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery says the Hawkeye depth will be crucial to their continued success.
“We have had guys that were sick, had minor injuries, and Josh (Oglesby) with the broken foot (in the nonconference),” McCaffery said Monday during a media teleconference. “Those things are going to continue, you hope they don’t, but someone is going to tweak an ankle, have a stomach virus or a sinus infection and that takes a toll on a team if you’re 7-or-8 deep.
“If you’re 11 deep, you can absorb it much better.”
The Hawkeyes are back at full strength — 11 deep — with the return of junior Josh Oglesby. The guard made his season debut, scoring 13 points on 4-of-5 3-point shooting in a rout of Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 22.
“The key to our team is our depth. We have to keep getting productivity from a lot of people, stay healthy and take care of our bodies for the grind that is coming.”
UI head coach Fran McCaffery
“(Josh’s return) changes a lot of things because if you look at our team, you saw Zach (McCabe) and Jarrod (Uthoff) were shooting it well and Mike (Gesell) and Devyn (Marble) were shooting it well and scoring, and now you throw Josh into the mix. When he’s shooting the ball like that, he’s phenomenal.
“It takes a lot of pressure off of Devyn and (Aaron) White, who are our key guys. If you look at Josh and Jarrod scoring the ball the way they are, it gives you that much more to prepare for when you’re getting ready for us.”
Iowa welcomes Nebraska (8-3) to Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the Big Ten opener. The Huskers haven’t played since Dec. 21, a 77-62 victory over The Citadel, but have won 5-of-6 games since losing consecutive contests to Massachusetts and UAB over Thanksgiving break.
Seven Nebraska players are averaging at least 6.5 points with forward Terran Petteway leading the team with 16.8 points on 43.1 percent shooting. Sophomore Shavon Shields averages 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds, while Deverell Biggs and Walter Pritchford average 9.3 and nine points, respectively.
“I like their team,” said McCaffery. “Petteway is a unique player. I like his game because he is relentless and multi-dimensional. When you have that attack mentality and you can get to the rim, that’s one thing, but when you can also shoot 3s, drive and dunk the ball and play in half court and transition, that’s a tough battle for any defense that is going to prepare for him throughout the season.”
For the Hawkeyes to contend with Nebraska and the rest of the Big Ten, McCaffery wants to see Iowa improve its defensive consistency, late-game situations and continuing to get productivity from 1-to-11 in the rotation.
“We want to look at our consistency defensively because we know how talented teams are that are coming and execution in late game (situations) because you’re anticipating being involved in a lot of close games late,” said McCaffery. “The key to our team is our depth. We have to keep getting productivity from a lot of people, stay healthy and take care of our bodies for the grind that is coming.”
Tuesday’s game will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Cory Provus and Stephen Bardo on the call. The first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive a free Zach McCabe bobblehead.