Todd Lickliter expected his son, John, to fill a significant role for the Iowa basketball team this season.
He just didn’t expect it to be during games.
The redshirt freshman’s playing time before Monday’s game against South Carolina State totaled zero minutes.
That changed during the first half Monday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena – a byproduct of the suspension of sophomore Anthony Tucker.
Tucker has pretty much handled back-up point guard duties when Cully Payne isn’t on the floor for the Hawkeyes this season. His indefinite suspension – or leave of absence if you prefer – has forced some changes. Iowa has lost one of its primary ball handlers and there is some merit to finding someone else who can fill that role for a few minutes whenever Payne needs a breather.
If that someone is someone other than Matt Gatens, it’s even better for Iowa because it allows Gatens to continue to play to his strengths, which have been many in recent games as he continues to grow.
That leads to the end of the bench, where John Lickliter normally enjoys a front-row seat after running the scout team in practice on a regular basis.
Monday, he was brought into the game with about 12 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first half. His insertion into the lineup for two minutes, a bit on both sides of a media timeout, provided Payne with a break and illustrated the potential of some help.
He dished out an assist, grabbed two rebounds and knocked down a pair of free throws in his first two minutes of time in a collegiate game. He also missed a 3-pointer, but earned a couple of minutes late in the half and returned to the court briefly after halftime.
A turnover and a defensive lapse led to a quick hook and an ear-ful of advice from his coach and father in the second half.
Following the game, Lickliter said he may have been a little too tough on his son.
“My father was tough on me, though, too, when he coached me and I don’t think it hurt me,” coach Lickliter said. “I have confidence in him and I know John has confidence. He’s never been afraid of stepping into a game. He gave us some good minutes.”