Hawkeyes Struggle, Beat UNO

In a 32-plus game basketball season, you’re going to find games where the numbers don’t add up and your favorite team doesn’t play up to their expectation, where they struggle against an inferior opponent.

Most folks didn’t expect Iowa to struggle too much against Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday in Carver Hawekeye Arena. Las Vegas certainly didn’t expect that, as the Hawkeyes were near 30 points favorites. However, struggle they did.

The game was tied at 66 with 6:02 to play when Anthony Clemmons hit a three-point shot…from there, Iowa began to pull away and wound up with the 83-75 win.

A few years back, this was Campbell in CHA and the Hawkeyes never came back. Devyn Marble said it well and succinctly on twitter following the game:


Marble struggled with his shot, making just 2 of 13 overall and going 0-5 from long range. However, he was 11-14 from the line and handed out four assists to go along with two steals and scored 15 points in a game high 33 minutes. Aaron White also played 33 minutes and scored 20 points to go with 11 rebounds.

Jarrod Uthoff put forth another solid outing, scoring nine points and grabbing seven rebounds in 23 minutes. The way he plays the game, given the driving ability he has at his size, he’ll be a load to handle by his senior year. He will be at times this year. Zach McCabe added 12 points while Melsahn Basabe scored seven and grabbed nine boards.

It was more of a forward evening for Iowa, as Uthoff, McCabe, Basabe and White were four of six players who played 19 minutes or more. Adam Woodbury played just 11 minutes, Gabe Olaseni 13 and Mike Gesell 14.

Anthony Clemmons played a pivotal role in this game as he scored 11 points, including that big three down the stretch.

The match ups are going to be fun to watch as McCaffery pushes buttons on a given night to see how things are going to go. I tweeted after the first game that Uthoff, White and Marble were going to be winning time players for Iowa; the guys on the floor when things got tight. I think you add Zach McCabe to that mix and one more guard. Clemmons might turn out to be that guy, but we’ve got a long way to go.

Iowa takes the court against Thursday night against Maryland Eastern Shore. The game will be televised on the BTN. Here are some quotes from Fran McCaffery following the game.

Q.  Aaron White’s upside, it doesn’t seem like his body is even caught up with his game, Coach.  It was phenomenal on the last. 
COACH McCAFFERY:  I think that, to me, Jess, I think that’s a good point.  I think the most impressive thing to me is just his understanding of what was needed in a very difficult game.  We played a team that had a terrific game plan.  They executed it to perfection.  I think they showed everybody what they were made of.
They go on the road and win a road game coming from behind with their best player going 0 for 9.  That tells me all I need to know about the team we played today.
So we get behind, and somebody’s got to step up and play the way that he played.  He had a couple of turnovers, but you just felt like he was going to get a rebound, get a basket, hit a three, block a shot, do something that we needed him to do.
Then you look down, and it’s like, wow, he’s got 20 and 15, pretty good day.

Q.  You got 25 minutes off the bench from Anthony Clemmons.  How much of a tone do you feel he was able to set for you guys at both ends of the floor? 
COACH McCAFFERY:  He was tremendous at both ends.  He hit a huge three, obviously.  I thought he had a real good pace to himself today.  He played the point.  It allows Dev to move off the ball, gives him more opportunities to drive it from the wing and get some shots from the wing.  He just doesn’t seem to rattle at all.  I just felt really good with him in the game, and we just left him in there.
I kept asking him if it he was okay because I was worried about fatigue.  Basabe was playing great.  I took him out.  McCabe was playing great.  I took him out.  Aaron White was tired, and I took him out for a minute, but I just left Clemmons in there.

Q.  You switched the zone and kind of took them out of the rhythm.  They were beating you up with dribble penetration.  Was that disappointing they were able to do that? 
COACH McCAFFERY:  It was disappointing because we weren’t as sharp‑‑ we clearly weren’t as sharp as we were the other night.  I think this team is better offensively clearly.  But our effectiveness and execution and overall commitment to defending side ball screen action, especially when it’s continuous like that, was not what it needed to be for this team.
So that was disappointing.  But it was better later, substantially better.

Q.  They were able to get a lot of offensive rebounds, I think 15 second chance points in the first half. 
COACH McCAFFERY:  And 16 points off turnovers in the first half, I think.  Normally‑‑ you normally are not down seven.  Normally, you’re down 17.  So they hit a three late.  They banked a couple of threes in.  We gave them some loose ball recoveries that they laid in.  Those kinds of plays, you know, demoralize a team when you’re trying to come back.
So for us, I thought, while it was disappointing that it happened, I felt really good about our toughness to overcome it because, when it keeps happening, you feel like, okay, this just isn’t our day.
When you have a great defensive possession and they bank a three, great defensive possession, they hit a 40‑footer, another great defensive possession, and they bank in another three with a hand in the face, and you say, wow.  Then we get a great defensive stop, and the ball rolls, and they get it, and they lay it in.
Those kinds of plays really wear on you over the course of a game.  So, you know, like I said, I’m upset that it happened, but at the same time, we showed a lot of courage to come back and get this win.  That team was ready.

Q.  I think you only had one turnover maybe the last 11 minutes of the game in crunch time. 
COACH McCAFFERY:  Especially when they came after us late.  We got to the free‑throw line.  We’re in the double bonus, which was good.  We end up going 38 for 49, but you’re right.
Even though I had two guards and three bigs, I had my best ball handling bigs out there.

Q.  You mentioned the 49 free throws, and I think you had 50 in your exhibition last Sunday.  Is that now kind of like a benchmark for a number you’d like to get in a game? 
COACH McCAFFERY:  I’d love to get that every game.  I don’t know if we can count on that every game.  I do think it’s going to be a point of emphasis where we can drive and throw it inside.  It’s got to be a combination.  It’s not all drives, it’s not all post feeds, it’s a combination of both.

Q.  How much does it hurt when you guys are struggling behind the three‑point line? 
COACH McCAFFERY:  It always helps when you’re making threes.  Pete hit a big one in the first half.  Obviously, Clemmons hit a big one.  Clemmons and Zach in the second half were huge.  I’d like to have made more, but at least we made two very big ones in key situations.

Q.  In the exhibition game, you voiced displeasure and thought you got outplayed.  Do you think they’re coming around, or is there still a little hangover from the preseason? 
COACH McCAFFERY:  You know, I don’t‑‑ I don’t know.  We talk about preseason hype and the professionalism with which we have to attack that.  Clearly, it was evident on Friday night.
It’s easy to say that it wasn’t evident today, but I think, when you do that, you lessen what your opponent was able‑‑ our opponent was able ready to play, and they played an incredibly good game, and I want to make sure they’re recognized for that.
We can sit there and talk about what we should have or could have done.  They were making the shots and getting the rebounds and making the loose balls, and they were giving us trouble.  So it’s all part of the journey.
You know, the key is, like I said last year after the Gardner‑Webb game, two years ago, three years ago, we lose this game.  We lost to Campbell.  We lost to South Dakota State.  I’m not saying we’re going to win every game like this, but we did what we had to do to win this game.  It’s on to the next.

Q.  Mike, is he okay? 
COACH McCAFFERY:  He’s okay.  I think his confidence, he’s struggling a little bit with that.  You know, I thought he was real tentative shooting the ball, so I talked‑‑ I said, Mike, I need you to be aggressive.  Shoot the ball.  Drive the ball.  Take it to the rim.  Shoot your pullup.  He’s got a great pullup game.
But then we put him at the point because we wanted Devyn on the wing, like I said a minute ago with Clemmons, and he was missing guys on the break.  He was clearly tentative.  So that’s why we took him out

Q.  It seemed like there was one play on defense where he trapped and he could have broke on it, and I think you reacted after that.  Was that one where you thought he could have gotten that? 
COACH McCAFFERY:  I think that’s an example, Scott, of his tentative nature right now.  When he’s playing Mike Gesell basketball, he steals angles down and dunks it.  He’s this close.  We’ll get him straightened out.

Q.  Was Dev feeling okay or just off? 
COACH McCAFFERY:  Dev?  He started off missing a couple.  He never seemed to get cooking.  To his credit, he was smart enough to drive the ball, get to the free‑throw line 14 times.  I thought he was very instrumental in our win.  Didn’t shoot it well, you’re right.

Q.  You just mentioned you had the three big men on the floor who could handle the ball well.  I think, combined, Zach and Gabe only had 24 minutes on the floor.  Is that part of the reason you didn’t have them play as much? 
COACH McCAFFERY:  The three guys I was talking about were White, McCabe, and Uthoff.  I thought Gabe gave us quality minutes when he was out there, but he lost the ball a couple times in a one or two‑possession game that I felt like was going to go back with more shorthanded guys, more experience.
We had the lineup out there where Basabe, Uthoff, and White were playing very well.  I thought Melsahn was tremendous today.  But I had Zach sitting there.  I took Zach out when he got three, but I’m thinking, I got to get Zach back in.  This is a Zach McCabe game.  We waited for the appropriate time, which is when Melsahn got tired.

Q.  Melsahn came up with huge rebounds late too.  He seems to have a leadership quality about him in the post. 
COACH McCAFFERY:  I thought he was tremendous.  You know, he‑‑ he was a presence.  Guys coming to the rim, traffic rebounds.  I think you’re also seeing him handle the ball better.  He’s so much better off the dribble, making plays.  His moves inside are quick.  You know he’s going to make his free throws late.
You just‑‑ you know, you need your tough guys in a game like this late.  He’s one of our tough guys.

  • louie

    Hawks need to poise.Heard they looked like dog squeeze.Haven’t seen them play,but my confidant said that White looks same as last year physically.that’s not good.

  • WIlliam Vonnegut

    The Hawks need shooters. I was told by many “experts” here that Iowa would be a better shooting team this year just because, as a result of a statistical anomaly last year, they almost certainly have to regress to the mean. I went ahead and called BS then, and the proof is in the pudding. Iowa is not going to shoot better just because it is unlikely they’ll shoot worse. They’re not going to shoot better because they don’t have shooters.

    • HNStaff

      they will be a better three-point shooting team this year than last year. I’d wager on it.

      • Grady

        Sorry, but Mr. Vonnegut is correct. Iowa does not have a consistent outside scoring threat — that is simply a fact. And most of their players are not good shooters beyond 10 ft — also a fact. That doesn’t mean they won’t win a lot of games with their depth, drives & FTs. But even Coach Fran said after the UNO game that this team is going to be built on drives and FTs. It’s Ok to say out loud what is obvious.

      • WIlliam Vonnegut

        With all due respect, what are you basing this off of?

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