Hawks men’s basketball still seeking improvement


Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter isn’t losing his patience. He admitted Monday he didn’t have very much to begin with.

Now in his 23rd month leading the Hawkeye basketball program, Lickliter’s calendar has again changed with the arrival of March, but his staff’s overarching challenges remain much the same this week.

Struggling through a shooting slump, junior Devan Bawinkel still won’t have a practice facility to smooth his confidence and stroke individually. The team trainers won’t find a fast-healing regimen for the bruised right forearm of freshman Aaron Fuller, the latest Hawkeye to join in Iowa’s medical misfortunes.

The Big Ten won’t do Iowa a solid favor by moving tonight’s game against Ohio State (18-9, 8-8) to a later date, saving the Hawkeyes from scrambling on two days’ rest after a six-point loss to Northwestern.

Such are the realities of life for Lickliter nearing the end of his second full year with the Iowa program, one that will play another basketball game this evening despite its compounding obstacles.

“It’s been such a challenge,” he said. “It’s hard to express the way you feel. I’m really proud of some of the things these guys have done.

“… I just think we’ve not been able to demand of ourselves what it requires to win in this league.”
Losing has offered little solace for Iowa, whose biggest incentive in the final week of the regular season is to try to build momentum leading into the Big Ten Tournament.

At 4-12 in conference play, the Hawkeyes are deadlocked in the No. 10 seed for the league’s postseason bracket.

To win, however, would be to show continued progress in Lickliter’s belief that every game is meaningful and reflect the players’ growth in a pyramid of goals set by the Iowa coaching staff.

The pyramid’s peak shows two seemingly distant goals this season — winning the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament — but a more consistent attitude about the structure’s base is a vital building block for Iowa.

Lickliter said on the bottom is the phrase “team first, improve daily,” and the second section harps on playing each game one possession at a time. After losing its eighth Big Ten game decided by eight points or fewer on Feb. 28, Iowa has found the latter to be crucially important.

“You have to play every possession as if that is the one that dictates whether you win or lose,” Lickliter said. “If we’re going to expect to win, we have to expect it to be a single-possession game.”

The coach expects to again be without injured guard Jeff Peterson tonight, leaving the point guard duties in sophomore Jake Kelly’s hands for the fifth-straight game. The Hawkeyes are just 1-4 in Peterson’s absence, but Lickliter has been extremely pleased with Kelly’s ability be effective in a new role this late in the season.

Kelly has scored at least 20 points in each of Iowa’s last three games.

“I told [Kelly] the other day, I’m really proud of the way he’s adjusted,” Lickliter said. “He’s really open to coaching. You can be critical of Jake, and he respects and appreciates it. I think he’s going to continue to grow in that position.”

With its road schedule concluding last weekend, Iowa would like to avenge a loss to an Ohio State team that needed all 40 minutes to edge the Hawkeyes by three points, 68-65, on Dec. 31.

Iowa’s roster is much shorter than it was two months ago, but Lickliter knows the Hawkeyes cannot expect sympathy. Iowa is just 4-11 since its initial meeting with the Buckeyes, and injuries are only one part of the team’s tribulations.

“When you acknowledge that there are obstacles, it’s considered an excuse,” he said. “I do think that injuries have obviously made it more difficult for us.”

Daily Iowan Advertising
Today's Display Ads | Today's Classifieds | Advertising Info

Sponsored Links  
T-Shirt Design  
Insurance Leads Charlotte Web Design
Health Insurance Leads Home Equity Loans
Home Service Guides  
Life Insurance DMI Furniture
Custom Magnets Buy a text ad

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.