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It doesn’t get easier

A 2-6 start isn't exactly what coach Todd Lickliter envisioned for his Iowa basketball team, but it is reality. Lickliter said following Thursday's 15-point loss to Michigan State that he continues to believe that the Hawkeyes have made progress that isn't reflected in their record. "I'm hoping we can find some things we can build on. We continue to struggle with understanding our teammates' strengths and playing to those strengths,'' Lickliter said. "Our rules are pretty simple. Shoot when you're open and pass when you're not. There are times when we struggle with that.'' Lickliter praised his team's resilency in the second half, pointing to the way Iowa cut Michigan State's 22-point lead to nine points with about six minutes to play. "We're not going to accept anything other than winning, but before that can happen we have to understand the things that can lead to winning and that is happens,'' Lickliter said. Things don't get easier on Sunday when Iowa faces its second straight rated opponent. It's unlikely that Illinois will have the welcome mat rolled out at the Assembly Hall after being handed the worst loss in Bruce Weber's six seasons on Thursday night at Minnesota. The Big Ten's top shooting was uncharacteristcally cold from the floor in the 59-36 loss at Williams Arena, shooting just 29.4 percent. "The curls that we struggled to trail and defend (in Thursday's 71-56 loss to MSU), we'd better learn to how to handle them in the next two days because we're going to see more of them at Illinois,'' Lickliter said.

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