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Hawks prepare for Cyclones; Lickliter expected back next week

BY BRENDAN STILES | DECEMBER 11, 2009 7:30 AM

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Iowa men’s basketball head coach Todd Lickliter may not be on the court tonight in Ames, but he assured players and fans on Thursday that he’ll be watching.

Thursday marked the first time Lickliter spoke publicly since revealing on Tuesday that doctors had to stent his carotid artery after discovering a tear last week. That artery is responsible for bringing blood to the head and neck.

And for the third-straight game, Lickliter will not be on the Hawkeyes’ bench as they take on Iowa State at 7 p.m. today in Hilton Coliseum. Associate head coach Chad Walthall will continue to fill Lickliter’s head-coach duties. The decision for the third-year Iowa head coach to stay away came after doctors recommended rest as he continues to recover from the procedure, which took place on Dec. 5. Lickliter had the procedure after visiting doctors for “severe headaches.”

However, Lickliter intends to return when Iowa and Drake tangle in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Dec. 19.

“It’s hard just to step away, especially under these circumstances where I really couldn’t prepare them for it,” Lickliter said. “I know it can be a lot worse. Without your health, it’s hard to enjoy anything, so I’m going to do what the doctors say. I respect them, I appreciate them, and I have confidence in the rest of the program.

“I know that they’ll compete well and play hard, and that’s what we’re trying to do — continue to grow. I’ll watch from afar, stay out of their way, and when I get the chance to come back, we’ll resume, and I’ll put my touches on.”

As for tonight’s matchup with the Cyclones, junior Craig Brackins is one Iowa State player catching the Hawkeyes’ attention. Last season, Brackins was first team All-Big 12. Through nine games this season, the Palmdale, Calif., native is averaging 17.1 points per game.

“You can see they’ve made strides, and Craig coming back was huge,” Lickliter said. “He’s a guy who’s multidimensional. There’s a reason why he’s advertised the way he is. He deserves it.
“I don’t know if you stop him, but what you try to do is understand your game plan and try to execute it.”

The last Iowa victory at Hilton Coliseum came during the 2003 NIT, with Iowa State having won its previous three home games with the Hawkeyes. Iowa won last year’s matchup at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, 73-57.

While the Hawkeyes head to Ames coming off a trip to Cedar Falls that stuck them there an extra day, Iowa State has had more than a week to prepare, not having played since a Dec. 2 home loss to Northern Iowa, 63-60.

Sophomore Matt Gatens sees plenty of similarities between the Cyclones and the Panthers, who beat the Hawkeyes on Dec. 8, 67-50.

“They run a lot of the same plays, so we can take what we learned from this game and take that into the next game with a lot of aspects,” he said in an interview with the Hawkeye Radio Network after Iowa lost to UNI. He said he expected Iowa State to be prepared. “It’s a great rivalry,” he said, “and we’ll be ready.”


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