Feb. 7, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery is confident the Hawkeyes can respond Saturday against No. 10/16 Michigan because his team as done it before.
“This will be a big test, we’re playing the first-place team in the league, but we haven’t lost two games in a row all year,” McCaffery said during a Friday teleconference. “We’ve responded every time we’ve been beaten.
“I like our professionalism in terms of our approach to losses in how we respond in practice and film sessions. Everybody stays positive, so we’ll see.”
Iowa has lost its last two home games against No. 6/7 Michigan State and No. 25 Ohio State, but that doesn’t send McCaffery into a panic. Instead he keeps pushing forward.
“You don’t panic, you keep coaching them up,” said McCaffery. “You keep teaching, trying to get better, watching film and getting on the floor. And you can’t overanalyze. You can argue that we’re not the best 3-point shooting team in the country, but we don’t normally shoot 3-of-20.”
Iowa lost the first meeting against Michigan, 75-67, on Jan. 22 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Wolverines are in the midst of a stretch where they have won 11-of-12 games with the lone loss coming at Indiana, 63-52, on Feb. 2. Michigan blasted Nebraska, 79-50, their last time out on Feb. 5.
McCaffery says the Wolverines may have the most weapons of any team in the Big Ten. Case in point Michigan’s leading scorer Nik Stauskas. The guard averages 17.3 points per game, but was limited to a single field goal in the last two contests. He scored 27 in the first matchup against the Hawkeyes.
“When you take a team’s leading scorer and he has put winning above everything else, that says a lot about him and (head coach) John (Beilein) and the culture they have,” said McCaffery. “They have a very unselfish team and any game, you can pick 7-or-8 guys that can be their leading scorer.”
McCaffery senses the Hawkeyes are a confident group despite losing 2-of-3 games — both coming in Iowa City.
“If you look at our season so far, even in our losses, we have played very well in stretches,” said McCaffery. “We’ve haven’t gotten beaten badly by anybody. Free throw shooting has been a problem at times, but we haven’t “mistaked our way” into bad losses. You have to be realistic and continue to try and get better.”
Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPN and will tip at 1:05 p.m. (CT). Bob Wischusen and Dan Dakich will be on the call.