Brands Sees Progress, Wants More

Jan. 21, 2014

Iowa-Minnesota Preview


IOWA CITY, Iowa — Head coach Tom Brands sees more positive than negatives with the University of Iowa wrestling team, but he is searching for more.

The Hawkeyes have won five-straight duals, including a 22-9 win over No. 8 Nebraska on Jan. 18 in Lincoln. Iowa won 7-of-10 matches, but lost three of the “marquee” bouts at 149, 157 and 174 pounds. The defeat at 157 was senior Derek St. John’s first in 27 matches.

“You’re seeing progress, you can’t argue that,” Brands said Tuesday inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “But you’re also seeing some dips and inconsistencies. There are more positives than negatives, the problem with that it isn’t not about having more positives than negatives.

“It’s about getting consistent and being at the highest level all the time. We march to that beat, and we don’t make it a secret we march to that beat. Our guys pick up on that and embrace it.”

Based on Tuesday’s media gathering, the “toughness factor” will come into play during Saturday’s dual against No. 4 Minnesota.

“There is a similar coaching style,” he said. “It’s physicial, hustle and attitude. There coaching staff is about toughness and J Robinson has been about toughness his whole life. There are a lot of similarities and that lends to certain things that are similar when you watch the wrestling.”

Brands says being tough is an important factor within the UI wrestling room.

“It’s a big ingredient, but there is strategy, technique, skills, wrestling hard and other things that go into that,” he said. “Other programs might not put that much emphasis (on being tough), but we put a lot of emphasis on that.

“No matter how skilled you are, in this sport, you have to be tough.”

The Gophers enter Saturday’s dual on the heels of their first loss of the season — a 19-14 setback at No. 19 Michigan. As a result, senior Tony Ramos says the Hawkeyes have to be even more prepared.

“It’s a big dual, we have to be ready,” he said. “We know they’re going to be ready since they got upset by Michigan. They’re going to be looking to make a statement.

“I am expecting them to be more prepared and ready to go, but we need to see that they are vulnerable. Their guys aren’t invincible like (heavyweight Tony) Nelson, (184-pounder Kevin) Steinhaus, (157-pounder Dylan) Ness and (141-pounder Chris) Dardanes. (Our) guys need to realize that go out and make a statement.”

Saturday’s dual is set to begin at 1 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.