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Archive for January, 2010

Matter of perspective

Saturday, January 30th, 2010
From the moment Michigan took the opening tip, fed the ball to DeShawn Sims and let him launch a 20-point game with a lay-in, it appeared Saturday that the Wolverines' senior had has way again with the Iowa basketball team. It was nothing new. Sims lit up the Hawkeyes for 27 points at the Big Ten tourney a year ago and he netted 5-of-7 first-half shots Saturday as Michigan raced to a 29-17 halftime lead. "Michigan knew exactly what it wanted to do from the first play of the game,'' Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said in his Learfield Sports postgame radio interview. "They powered it down there and he went in and stuck it in the bucket. We were right at the basket, too. I'm not saying that you do anything malicious, but you have to do something to tell them that you're not going to let them catch it for an easy basket. We didn't do that.'' Iowa's Aaron Fuller said the Hawkeyes lacked toughness as they worked against Sims, who collected his sixth double-double of the season by grabbing nine of his 12 rebounds on the offensive end. Michigan coach John Beilein saw things from a different perspective. He believed Iowa did a better job of defending Sims than it did in Indianapolis last season. "The last time, he scored a lot of 1-on-1 in the post, but that wasn't the case today,'' Beilein said. "He had to score off of some residual drives and off of offensive rebounds. I felt like they did a good job on him. That kid (Jarryd) Cole, and that (Brennan) Cougill, they did a good job on him. He's not an easy assignment.''

Preparing for Michigan

Friday, January 29th, 2010
Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims are dominant -- leading the Michigan basketball team in scoring and rebounding -- but Iowa coach Todd Lickliter sees the big picture as he looks at the Wolverines in preparation for Saturday's match-up at Crisler Arena. Here's his take on Michigan: "They're a team that has a lot of firepower and they are very good in transition. They've hit a lot of 3s this season in transition. Sims is a terrific post player. He had a his way with us the last time we saw them and he is surrounded by four capable scorers.'' Sims scored 27 points and Harris had 18 in the Wolverines' 73-45 win over the Hawkeyes in the 2009 Big Ten tourney, an Iowa loss that came about three weeks after the Hawkeyes won an overtime game between the teams at Carver-Hawkeye. Lickliter expects Michigan's blend of defenses to challenge Iowa. John Beilein-coached teams have been known for their 1-3-1 over the years and based on the way the Hawkeyes struggled with it at times when Ohio State deployed it on Wednesday, Lickliter expects to see more of it Saturday. He does believe his team can take some confidence from its road win at Indiana on Sunday, a victory that ended a 15-game skid away from home. "I think our guys now have an understanding of the focus it takes away from home,'' Lickliter said. "We've been in some difficult environments recently and we learned at Indiana that when you do enough good things down the stretch that you can have success.''

True grit

Thursday, January 28th, 2010
John Wayne wasn't anywhere to be found at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday night, but there was some true grit on display. Refusing to miss his 53rd straight start for Iowa, Matt Gatens ignored a sprained ankle to play 38 minutes in the Hawkeyes' 65-57 loss to Ohio State. Gatens suffered the injury during Iowa's shootaround earlier in the day Wednesday and had to carried to the training room. Gatens gingerly walked out of the Hawkeye locker room about 50 minutes before the start of the game and he slowly tested his ability to move on the ankle when he joined teammates on the floor for pregame warmup. A few minutes into the warmup, it was apparent that Gatens had seen all he needed to see and it was full speed ahead after that. "Most guys wouldn't have played in this game after that,'' Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said. "He couldn't even finish the shootaround without somebody helping him off the court.'' Once the decision was made to play Gatens, Lickliter had little choice other than to leave his team's leading scorer on the floor. "It was better to just leave him out there and play him. If we would have taken him in and out, that would have let the ankle tighten up on him,'' Lickliter said. "He showed some real grit.'' Gatens finished with six points on 2-of-7 shooting, was second on the team with three assists and had one rebound in 38 minutes against the Buckeyes. His scoring total equaled his lowest output of the season and was less than half of his team-leading average of 12.8 points.

Moving around

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Iowa guard Matt Gatens won't be at 100 percent for tonight's game against Ohio State. The Hawkeye sophomore sprained an ankle as the Hawkeyes prepared for the 7:30 p.m. game with the 20th-ranked Buckeyes, but Gatens is testing the ankle as Iowa warms up for tonight's game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and appears to be preparing to at least attempt to play.

Well-rested team

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
Iowa basketball coach Todd Lickliter gushed as he spoke about the talent and depth of the Ohio State basketball team Iowa hosts on Wednesday night. "Ohio State has a good of talent as anybody in the league. There are four Big Ten teams in the top 20 and Ohio State is right there with the very best,'' Lickliter said this afternoon at his weekly news conference. The Hawkeye coach saved plenty of superlatives for the Buckeyes' Evan Turner. The returning all-Big Ten selection leads Ohio State in scoring, rebounding and assists and Lickliter suggested that if Turner had not have missed six games with a back injury that the Buckeyes would show up at Carver-Hawkeye Arena tonight with a record better than their current 14-6 mark. Lickliter declined the chance to say which Hawkeye might draw the assignment of defending Turner. "I'm not going to announce that. That way, everybody can get the same amount of rest. I don't want to force somebody to have a sleepless night,'' Lickliter said. "Believe me, though, even the guys who don't guard Turner are going to find themselves guarding somebody who can really play. They're that good.''

Numerology

Monday, January 25th, 2010
Wins at Indiana don't come around that often for the Iowa basketball program. In a series that began in 1909, the Hawkeyes have won only 26 times in games played at Bloomington and the Hoosiers had won in 12 of the last 15 meetings before Sunday's win by Iowa. Here's a few numbers to think about following Iowa's 58-43 win at Indiana to illustrate the rarity of what transpired at the Assembly Hall, where thousands of fans streamed toward the exits with more than 4 minutes left on the clock and Iowa maintaining a 50-34 lead: * The Hoosiers did score just 42 points in a home loss to Northeastern last season, but the last time Indiana scored fewer points in a Big Ten home game was on Jan. 27, 1951 when the Hoosiers defeated Minnesota 32-26. * Iowa held the Hoosiers without a 3-point field goal, a first in 278 games for Indiana since it went scoreless from 3-point range in a Big Ten tourney match-up against Wisconsin. The Hoosiers were 0-for-9 from behind the arc against Iowa. * The Hawkeyes' 15-point margin of victory in Bloomington equaled Iowa's largest win over Indiana on the road since a 104-89 victory by Ralph Miller's team during a 14-0 Big Ten run in 1970. That team, led by John Johnson and Fred Brown, topped 100 points 14 times on its way to a 20-5 record. * To find an Iowa win on the road against Indiana by more than 15 points, you have to go back to 1954 when the Hawkeyes won there 82-64.

No free passes

Monday, January 25th, 2010
As pleased as he was with his team's performance in Sunday's 58-43 win at Indiana, there was one number that jumped off stat sheet that Iowa coach Todd Lickliter can't live with. "Twenty-one turnovers, that's like three games' worth,'' Lickliter said. Of the nine Hawkeyes who saw action against the Hoosiers, only Andrew Brommer did not commit a turnover in Iowa's first Big Ten road win since the final week of the 2007-08 season. Freshman point guard Cully Payne finished with five of the turnovers to go with three assists - a number that matched Indiana's team total. Lickliter said he expects more of Payne. "Cully is a really good player and he has the ball in his hands 90 percent of the time,'' Lickliter said. "But, I'm not going to give him a pass. He'll throw it to his teammates and make good decisions, but we expect him to do that.'' Lickliter expects Payne to work with his position coach, LaVall Jordan, as he both studies tape of what went right and wrong on Sunday and as he works on the court to reduce unnecessary errors. "You don't get any nights off in this conference,'' Lickliter said.

Changing times

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010
Iowa basketball coach Todd Lickliter isn't necessarily a fan of the time change for Sunday's Iowa-Indiana basketball game. The tipoff has been pushed back one hour to 5 p.m. (CST) so that fans in Indiana don't have to choose between watching the Indianapolis Colts in their 2 p.m. (CST) playoff game with the New York Jets or the game between the Hawkeyes and Hoosiers. "I wasn't in favor of changing the time, but in the spirit of cooperation, we agreed to go along with a one-hour delay. That didn't change our travel plans and that was key. The one hour change did not impact our charter that was set up,'' Lickliter said. Indiana officials, wanting to give their fans a chance to possibly attend both games, initially approached the Big Ten about moving the game to an 11 a.m. (CST) tipoff. The Indiana women are playing at Michigan on Sunday and both games will be televised by the Big Ten Network. However, the Big Ten declined that move citing logistical reasons. A 6 p.m. (CST) tip was also proposed, but that not gain approval either before the 5 p.m. compromise was reached. "Supposedly this will help Indiana in some way,'' Lickliter said. "What our hope is in talking with Gary Barta is that in the spirit of cooperation if we ever need a change, be it with Indiana or some other institution within the league, that this will be remembered.'' Lickliter said the delay will simply push back Iowa's schedule in Bloomington by one hour on Sunday, beginning with when the Hawkeyes have their pregame meal. "I've never seen different starting times as being a bad thing. You just have to make adjustments and I think this will be a lesson for our guys in learning how to deal with things that are out of our control,'' Lickliter said.

Wrestling with words

Thursday, January 21st, 2010
Neither strapped on a singlet, but both Iowa coach Todd Lickliter and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo found themselves wrestling with words following the Hawkeyes' 70-63 loss at the Breslin Center on Wednesday night. Lickliter liked the way his team continued to battle as it rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit, praising the Hawkeyes' persistence, but he doesn't want this Iowa team to become content with close calls and moral victories. "The idea is to win. Without it, it's all pretty shallow,'' Lickliter said. "We have to see what was done well, and we need to do more of that. Sometimes in tough situations, we do things that are hard to understand. There is no one who can make or catch some of the passes we try to make.'' Lickliter appreciated the fight in his team. "We never said, 'Let's just play hard and see what happens.' We kept saying it's the possession at hand, play the game the right way and continue to concentrate on the things you can do and should do. We kept teaching and working,'' Lickliter said. Although the Spartans are 6-0 in the Big Ten and have grabbed an early two-game edge in the conference race, Michigan State's Izzo said the education continues for his team as well. "I'm just trying to figure out my team. It wasn't a very well-coached game by Michigan State and it wasn't a very well-played game by Michigan State. But, I felt like I had to figure out whether somebody was going to step up and say some things or do some things, and I got my answer that I'll keep to myself and so I'll adjust,'' Izzo said. "... I am used to our grreat teams played with incredible emotion, and this team is not quite like that right now. Maybe it will get better. Whoever gets to somebody so that they play with passion, they play with a sense of urgency, that team is probably going to win the Big Ten.'' Izzo painted Wednesday's game as a chance to show it had improved since struggling a bit in its earlier match-up with the Hawkeyes. He didn't see what he wanted to see. "I was really loking forward to this game as a maturation process, are we starting to make it? I guess we're back to baby bottles and diapers. We've got some work to do,'' he said. Izzo said he saw just three bright spots Wednesday. "We won the game, we had 24 assists out of 28 baskets and a lot of credit should go to Todd (Lickliter) and his team because those were the bright sides I saw,'' Izzo said. "We just didn't respect the game or the ball.''

Familiar foe

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
Six games into its Big Ten schedule, the Iowa basketball team faces its second match-up with Michigan State on Wednesday. The game comes 11 days after the Spartans rolled to a 71-53 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Coach Todd Lickliter sees good and bad in one of the quirks of a quirky conference schedule. "You are familiar with the opponent, so the scout shouldn't be quite as new as it is for some games,'' Lickliter said. "We will be going on the road and they're playing extremely well. They were ranked 10th when we played them the first time and they are sixth now so that tells you about how they are playing right now.'' Lickliter and MSU coach Tom Izzo both talk about Wednesday's game being a barometer for progress their teams have made recently. "We competed with them in stretches in the first game. We know we will have to stretch those stretches out to give ourselves a chance in this one,'' Lickliter said. Izzo was less-than-thrilled with parts of his team's performance in Iowa City. "We'll see if we have matured a bit since then and we haven't forgotten that Iowa beat us at their place two years ago,'' Izzo said. "They're a well-coached team and we will have to be ready.'' The Spartans have owned the Hawkeyes in recent years at Breslin Center, where Iowa last won in 1993. Since then, the Hawkeyes have lost 14 straight road games to MSU by an average of 14.2 points. Lickliter appreciates the environment his team is stepping into Wednesday. MSU's student Izzone rings the court at the Breslin Center, providing an intimidating surrounding for visiting teams. "I think it's a great college environment,'' Lickliter said. "I took a team to Duke one year for that reason, too.'' Lickliter wants his team to embrace the experience. "I expect us to continue to focus on the task at hand and I assure that the competition will get every bit of our attention,'' Lickliter said. "I want our guys to see this as an enjoyable challenge.''