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Playing for now

In addition to addressing his team's ongoing injuries issues, Iowa coach Todd Lickliter talked about the defensive nature of the game in the Big Ten today as well as discussed what Iowas has to play for during the final weeks of the season. Lickliter insisted that he isn't getting ahead of himself. "I'm going to prepare them to win every game this season,'' Lickliter said. "Our focus is on improving each day. That doesn't change. We'll continue to utilize our time well to develop and grow, but the focus is on this year and winning the next game on our schedule.'' Lickliter has been pleased with his team's growth defensive and practice time lately has focused on improved offensive performance. "We need to put more points on the board, so that makes sense,'' guard Jake Kelly said. Lickliter isn't overly optimistic that Jeff Peterson or Cyrus Tate will be available for Sunday's game with Michigan. Neither have practiced this week as they continue to deal with injuries -- Peterson a hamstring and Tate an ankle sprain. He said both are "day to day'' and detailed the situation for both, something that will appear in a story elsewhere on Hawkmania later today. Lickliter walks a fine line, saying that he has to respect an athlete's opinion when he decides if it is wise to play or not. Tate, for example, has been cleared to play by Iowa's medical personnel, but hasn't felt comfortable enough to take the floor in a game. Lickliter said he continues to take Tate at his word, pointing out that athletes can be cleared to play before they are at 100 percent. Tate says he must be smart about it, especially after having setbacks following two attempted returns to the court in the weeks following his Jan. 8 injury. In some respects, the only senior in the Iowa lineup may not exactly be doing the same thing his coach encourages. While Lickliter is playing for now and trying to find ways to win, Iowa's rebounding leader may be looking more toward his own future instead of any potential benefits he could receive out of playing for now.

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