March 19, 2015
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By MATTHEW WEITZEL
SEATTLE — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team has three starters, and four players who play significant minutes, that stand 6-foot-9 or taller. That length could prove to be a pivotal factor in tomorrow’s NCAA Tournament Second Round game against Davidson.
Davidson head coach Bob McKillop said his team hasn’t faced the length that the Hawkeyes possess this season.
“We haven’t seen that kind of size in the Atlantic 10,” McKillop said. “And of course it’s Big Ten toughness.”
Iowa held a 40 minute practice at KeyArena Thursday to prepare for the Davidson.The Wildcats average 80 points per game, with their strength coming via the long-ball averaging 11 3-point makes per game.
UI head coach Fran McCaffery hopes his team’s length will be a strength.
“It’s one of the best three-point shooting teams I’ve ever really studied on film,” said McCaffery. “Not only can their guards shoot the 3-ball, but also their front court guys as well. So we have to really be out and up in that space and contesting. So hopefully our length will help.”
Senior co-captain Aaron White agrees with his coach.
“It will be a big thing for us to run them off the line, use our length to our advantage, and contain them that way,” White said. “They might be a little bit quicker than us, but I think our length will help us.”
White added that switching defenses throughout the game should the Hawkeyes limit the Wildcats’ offensive attack.
“We got great size on our front line, also in the back court,” said White. “If they do shoot threes, we got to be there with a hand up and shoot over us.”
Senior Gabriel Olaseni said that rebounding will also be a key component to tomorrow’s second all-time meeting between Iowa and Davidson.
“Rebounding is going very important, especially with a team like this — they shoot so many threes,” said Olaseni. “There are going to be long rebounds around the free throw area. But we’re still going to do a good job of boxing out. And we definitely need to get those rebounds to get the fast break going.”
Although, losing in the first round a year ago, McCaffery hopes that last years’ experience of playing in the tournament will benefit this year’s squad.
“To go through that experience last year and just get a feel for how it’s different I think is good,” said McCaffery. “Hopefully, that will manifest itself into intelligent play and better play tomorrow.”
McKillop knows a key to stopping Iowa will be limiting White’s production. The Davidson head coach had high praise for the Hawkeye senior, who he coached in 2013 at the World University Games in Russia.
“He’s a great basketball talent and a terrific young man,” said McKillop. “I enjoyed tremendously spending three weeks with him in Russia, and there aren’t too many guys I would like to spend three weeks in Russia with.”
The Hawkeyes and Wildcats will tipoff at 6:20 p.m. (CT) Friday. Watch the action on TNT or listen on the Hawkeye Radio Network.