Full Steam Ahead to Minnesota

Jan. 16, 2014


IOWA CITY, Iowa — Following its road win at No. 3 Ohio State, the University of Iowa men’s basketball team has become a media darling, and the Hawkeyes don’t want to be a one-hit wonder.

“It was only one game, you can never get too high or too low,” said junior Aaron White. “It was good to get a win on the road against a highly-ranked opponent and have all these people talk about us, but that doesn’t mean we can slip up Sunday or down the road.

“You have to have the same focus and preparation day-in-and-day-out whether it is practice; we’re playing the No. 1 team in the country or the 11th-seed in the Big Ten Tournament. We have a mature enough team and group of guys that we won’t get too high off one win.”

The Hawkeyes welcome Minnesota (13-4, 2-2) to Iowa City for a noon matchup Sunday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Gophers face off against Ohio State tonight in Minneapolis.

“I like their team, but they are completely different and their style is different (from last year),” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “They’re going to press, play more zone, more chain defense, trap more and shoot a ton of 3s. They’re quick and have a good blend of experience and some new guys, so they’ll be a factor in this league.”

First-year head coach Richard Pitino has four Gophers averaging in double figures in Andre Hollins (16.3 points), Austin Hollins (12.1), DeAndre Mathieu (11.4) and Malik Smith (10.1). Minnesota averages eight 3-pointers a game and is leading the league in steals (8.2) and free throw percentage (75.5 percent).

“Andre Hollins is excellent because he can get his own shot or he can shoot off the catch or a screen,” said McCaffery. “He can score in bunches. Mathieu has made a big difference taking pressure off both the Hollins. He has taken away major responsibilities in terms of handling the ball and scoring.”

With each of the final seven home games sold-out, McCaffery is excited for his players to be able to compete in an electric environment in Iowa City from here on out.

“The fact that our last seven are sold out is a testament to our guys, how they’ve played and how much they enjoy watching them play,” said McCaffery. “It’s safe to say when you look at the league it is as balanced as it has ever been. You have to be ready every night and to have that atmosphere is going to be very helpful.”

Even with freshman Peter Jok accumulating 11 minutes in Big Ten play, McCaffery isn’t ready to commit to shortening his 11-man rotation.

“I don’t want to, and it’s not going to be by design,” he said. “It will be a game-by-game thing. With the way Josh (Oglesby) played the other day, it precluded (Anthony) Clemmons from coming back in. We’ll see.”

Iowa and Minnesota split their two meetings last season, both winning on its home court. The Hawkeyes lost 62-59 in Williams Arena before topping the Gophers, 72-51, in Iowa City. Minnesota leads the all-time series over Iowa, 101-91.

Sunday’s game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network with Eric Collins and Shon Morris on the call.