Todd Lickliter refuses to buy into the notion that his Iowa basketball team may be suffering some fatigue from the rigors of a long season.
“They’re 19 and 20 years old. They get a two-minute break every four minutes of every half (because of media timeouts). They should be able to play all day,” Lickliter said.
Still, a lack of depth has forced the Hawkeyes to play younger players longer than Lickliter would prefer. He said during his weekly news conference Monday that ideally, freshmen in his system are spoonfed playing time to give them a chance to learn as they adjust to the game at the college level.
Pointing to Jake Kelly as an example, he said he would prefer that Kelly would average fewer than the nearly 26 minutes per game he has played in Big Ten games.
“Ideally, you would like to be able to play him, bring him out when he makes a mistake and coach and teach and then put him back in for more minutes,” Lickliter said.
That luxury doesn’t exist this season. Lickliter has played seven players consistently through the final weeks of Iowa’s season. In Saturday’s loss to Illinois, four players — Cyrus Tate, Tony Freeman, Justin Johnson and Kelly — were on the court for at least 38 minutes.
At least one Hawkeye will take as many minutes as he can get.
“I don’t think we’re fatigued. That’s just an excuse,” Freeman said. “We just haven’t gotten the job done or played at the level we need to play at to win games. That’s what hurts. We’re better than we’ve shown.”
Iowa’s depth issues are expected to take care of themselves next season. The Hawkeyes added a commitment from a fifth recruit late Monday night when forward Aaron Fuller of Mesa, Ariz., announced his intentions to sign with Iowa during the April signing period.