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Hawkeyes look to shoot their way back

BY BRENDAN STILES | NOVEMBER 20, 2009 7:21 AM

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Two games into the 2009-10 season, and the Iowa men’s basketball team isn’t having the start it anticipated.

Not only have the Hawkeyes lost their first two games — both at home against Texas-San Antonio and Duquesne — but in the process, they have struggled mightily in one area Iowa heavily relies on: shooting the ball.

Tonight, the squad will try to put on a better shooting clinic inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena when the Hawkeyes host the Bowling Green Falcons at 8 p.m., in a game sandwiched between CBE Classic contests in both Iowa City and Kansas City.

In those two losses, Iowa shot a combined 11-of-54 from 3-point range, a field-goal percentage slightly better than 20 percent. Overall, the Hawkeyes shot a cumulative 35-for-107 from the floor in those two contests and only managed to net 50 points in each.

During a teleconference with the local media on Thursday, Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter made it clear he has not lost confidence in any of his players, saying he likes the team’s overall character.

“We had two difficult shooting nights, and you got to look at shot selection when that happens, if you think you’re a good shooting team,” Lickliter said. “We looked at that, and we feel like we took a lot of make-able shots, and they didn’t go, so you deal with that.”

One of the players that has really struggled thus far is sophomore Matt Gatens. The Iowa City native followed a 2-for-9 shooting performance against Texas-San Antonio with an unusual 2-for-12 outing on Tuesday against Duquesne.

Lickliter said Gatens’ poor shooting could have been a result of tightness or anxiousness, which he feels all his players get from time to time because of their determination to be successful.

“They care a great deal,” Lickliter said about his players. “We’ve got to get them to understand that they have a lot of confidence in the skill that they’ve developed, and we believe in them.”

While the Hawkeyes come into this evening’s showdown 0-2 overall, Bowling Green comes into Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 1-1. On Tuesday, the Falcons were crushed at Xavier, 101-57.

One Bowling Green player that Iowa will have to keep its eye on is sophomore Scott Thomas. The 6-6 forward leads the Falcons in points and rebounds, averaging 14 points and five boards per contest.

“We’re going to have to really adjust defensively, position-wise, to be able to maintain the right position,” Lickliter said. “There’s no question we got to constantly adjust to maintain position, we got to get them off the glass. It will be another good test for us.”

Lickliter said that regardless of whether Iowa wins or loses, a degree of humility has to be shown after every game.

“There’s always a response,” the third-year coach said. “What’s fun is when you can push a group of guys that you feel like are going to be focused on the right things, have the right approach of values, and you’re going to watch them grow. And you know eventually, they’ll be rewarded.”


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