Nov. 11, 2015
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — You won’t catch the University of Iowa men’s basketball team taking any team lightly heading into the 2015-16 regular season.
The Hawkeyes went 1-1 during the exhibition portion of their schedule, including a 76-74 defeat to NCAA Division II Augustana on Nov. 6 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The setback proved to be a valuable learning experience.
“We were taking it for granted a little bit, how you can lose to anybody any night if you don’t play your game and do what you’re supposed to do,” said senior Mike Gesell. “This is the time of the year if you’re going to lose one, it’s the time to do it and learn from it.”
Iowa missed 39 shots against the Vikings, the top-ranked team in NCAA Division II. The Hawkeyes had just 10 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points.
“We missed a lot of shots, and we didn’t go back and get enough of them,” said Gesell. “When you’re struggling shooting, you have to go back and get one to get points on the board.”
The Hawkeyes also didn’t get to the foul line, attempting just five free throws. Iowa averaged 15.8 points and 21.3 attempts from the charity stripe last season.
“We shot a few to many jump shots,” UI head coach Fran McCaffery said during a news conference Wednesday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “We have to mix it up, penetrate, and throw it inside more. Jarrod (Uthoff) is going to have to step it up and be one of those guys.”
Uthoff wasn’t pleased with his effort or energy against Augustana. He finished with 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting in 33 minutes and grabbed three rebounds.
“I didn’t bring it that game, was tired, and didn’t have the mindset of being aggressive,” said Uthoff. “I didn’t rebound, score points, or do anything to help the team. I want to do that and bring energy.”
Uthoff told McCaffery as much following the game.
“He said to me point blank, ‘Coach, that won’t happen again. I wasn’t what I should have been, but I am going to get it corrected and you’ll never have that problem again,'” said McCaffery.
“That’s what a leader, a veteran is supposed to do, and he has been phenomenal in practice the last couple of days. That’s good to see.”
The Hawkeyes won’t be shell-shocked when preparing for Friday’s 8:30 p.m. (CT) game against Gardner Webb. The Runnin’ Bulldogs have two starters returning from a team that won 20 games and played in the College Basketball Invitational last March.
“Gardner Webb is a program that has a history of coming in and winning games early in the season,” said Gesell. “They’re a team you have to be ready to play; they’ll come after us.”
Iowa has played Gardner Webb once in its history — in 2012 in a Cancun Challenge preliminary game in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes trailed by 23 points (38-15) with 13 seconds left in the first half before winning by nine. It was the largest comeback in school history.
Last season Gardner Webb won at Purdue in late December, 89-84.
“When we played them a couple years ago nobody knew where they were from or who they were,” said McCaffery. “They got our attention pretty quick. It’s clear to say they have our full attention, and we have to play well.”
McCaffery started the news conference answering questions about Iowa’s four-player recruiting class — Iowa natives Ryan Kriener, Jordan Bohannon, and Cordell Pemsl, and St. Louis native and top-100 recruit Tyler Cook.
“They’re all good players, and most importantly, they’re all terrific people,” said McCaffery.