Oct. 7, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A humble and hungry Hawkeye could mean a happy Hawkeye in March.
University of Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery held his annual media day news conference inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday, saying that high expectations are tempered only by inexperience.
While last season McCaffery said it was Aaron White’s team, this edition will feature group leadership. Four starters return: seniors Mike Gesell, Jarrod Uthoff, and Adam Woodbury, and junior Peter Jok. Senior Anthony Clemmons started 12 games last season and 25 for his career.
“You’re talking about potentially four senior starters, so all of those guys will have a different voice in the locker room and on the road,” McCaffery said. “They’re all very different personalities. Jarrod does not have the same personality as Aaron White. That said, he’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever been around. That in and of itself is a great example to the young guys that we brought in. He’s more likely to talk less and have more impact. (Woodbury) and (Gesell) probably have more to say, as will Clemmons.”
Other returning letterwinners are senior Okey Ukah and sophomore Dom Uhl. They are joined by seven newcomers: Nicholas Baer, Brady Ellingson, Andrew Fleming, Brandon Hutton, Dale Jones, Isaiah Moss, Michael Soukup, Steven Soukup, Ahmad Wagner, and Christian Williams.
Jones and the Soukups are juniors, the rest are freshmen.
“They all have caught my eye in a lot of different ways,” McCaffery said. “How that will manifest itself specifically, we have too much time to figure that out right now. Who can take what they’ve done so far and then go play three positions legitimately? Certain guys can handle that, and certain guys can’t, that will manifest itself over time. Who can play well like they’re playing now, when the TV lights come on? Who does it then? That’s a big difference for some guys.
“I’m hopeful that three or four of them can rise to the top.”
The interesting mix of seniors and newcomers has led to competitive preseason practices.
“We’re playing those other five guys, who else is going to play? It’s kind of wide open,” McCaffery said. “You also have to prepare for the following year, in order to do that we’ve got to get these guys ready.”
Iowa is searching for its fourth consecutive 20-win season and its third straight NCAA Tournament berth. The Hawkeyes were 12-6 in the Big Ten last season and McCaffery says the conference will be stronger than it has been during his five-year tenure as head coach here.
“The Big Ten is the best it’s been since I got on the league, top to bottom,” McCaffery said. “I look at every team and it has really good players and has a chance to be a lot better than it was last year.”
Iowa opens the season with an exhibition game against University of Sioux Falls on Oct. 29 in Iowa City. The regular season opener is Nov. 13 against Gardner-Webb.