Feb. 2, 2016
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Senior Jarrod Uthoff says his appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated is all about the success of the No. 5/7 University of Iowa men’s basketball team, not his own.
The Hawkeyes graced the cover for the first time since 1966 courtesy of their Big Ten-leading 8-1 record — the program’s best in league play since 1981-82. Iowa hosts Penn State on Wednesday at 6 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court.
“The recognition is about us and what we’ve accomplished as a team,” said Uthoff, Iowa’s All-America candidate. “It has nothing to do with what I have done as an individual. We’ve come a long way this year. People predicted us in the bottom of the Big Ten, and we’re proving we can play with anybody.”
UI head coach Fran McCaffery is happy for the players to see the fruits of their labors.
“The recognition is about us and what we’ve accomplished as a team. It has nothing to do with what I have done as an individual. We’ve come a long way this year. People predicted us in the bottom of the Big Ten, and we’re proving we can play with anybody.”
UI senior Jarrod Uthoff
“When you see them working as hard as our guys work, you want them to be recognized properly,” McCaffery said during a Tuesday news conference inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “It’s a terrific honor. I have great respect for that publication, and we’re happy to be on it.”
Uthoff is the focal point of the cover; senior Mike Gesell is in the picture with his back to the play during Iowa’s 83-71 win over No. 22 Purdue on Jan. 24.
“I got a little bit of stardom along with Jarrod,” joked Gesell. “Maybe it’s all the passes I give him; they (Sports Illustrated) decided to put me on it.”
Woodbury didn’t know the Iowa program was featured on the cover until told by reporters. He wasn’t surprised Uthoff deflected the attention.
“He’s very unselfish,” said Woodbury. “The kind of numbers he puts up and the attention he gets, he’s unselfish with the credibility. He shares it around and that’s awesome to see out of your best player. We rely on him for leadership both offensively and defensively, and he’s sharing the wealth.”
Sports Illustrated aside, the Hawkeyes know they’re in for a dog fight with the Nittany Lions coming to Iowa City. Penn State is 11-11 overall and 2-7 in the Big Ten.
“They’re a lot better than their record,” said Gesell. “They’re a dangerous team. They have guys that can play and play hard. They’re never going to give up and you have to bring your ‘A’ game against them.”
Penn State has three players averaging double figures with Brandon Taylor leading the team, averaging 16.3 points. Shep Garner (13.9) and Payton Banks (10.7) also average in double figures.
“They play hard, and they’re a tough team,” said senior Adam Woodbury. “They have some talented guys — three guys that combine for 65 percent of their shots and 70 percent of their 3s. It’s going to be a physical game, but we’ll be ready.”
Pat Chambers’ Nittany Lions are scrappy and physical. They’re the junkyard dogs of the Big Ten.
“They’re going to be up in your face,” said Uthoff. “We’re used to it. In the Big Ten a lot of teams play physical, it’s nothing new. You have to play up to the level, play hard, and go out and get a win.”
Wednesday’s game will be televised on ESPNU with Adam Amin and Craig Robinson on the call. Tickets remain by contacting the UI Athletics Ticket Office at 800-IA-HAWKS or by visiting hawkeyesports.com.