Payne takes criticism in stride


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Cully Payne has had a clipboard broken over his head — by his father, no less — so the verbal lashing from Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter during the Hawkeyes’ Jan. 30 game against Michigan didn’t faze him much.

“I was lucky. My dad was the toughest guy I’ve ever met on me,” Payne said on Monday. “He just demanded a lot.”

That experience prepared him for instances similar to the one in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Late in the first half against the Wolverines, Iowa had shrunk a 17-point deficit to 11 when Payne took an ill-advised 3-pointer early in the shot clock. Lickliter called a full time-out and made a beeline for his freshman point guard, visibly upset by Payne’s shot selection. The freshman’s three turnovers didn’t help, either.

“That was just a pretty inopportune time, and I just wanted him to know that,” Lickliter said. “He’s running our club. He does a lot more good than bad.”

The Hawkeyes’ only true point guard, Payne has seen most of the ball-handling duties fall on his shoulders as the team’s No. 2 point guard, Anthony Tucker, continues to get pine time.

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Payne has started every game of his young career, showing the ability to get in the lane and create a shot for himself.

“We’re playing young guys because that is what is dictated,” Lickliter said. “They like it. Everyone wants to play, but I do think that sitting behind a veteran, watching, and wanting to play is a great motivator.”

With Payne specifically, perhaps that motivation will come in the form of redshirt freshman John Lickliter, the coach’s son who walked on to the team. Against Michigan, John Lickliter played a career-high 24 minutes.

Payne, on the other hand, played 28 minutes, marking the first time in seven games the freshman didn’t see 30-plus minutes of action.

“Sometimes you play guys not necessarily only because of what they show you but also out of necessity and what hasn’t been happening with the other guys,” Todd Lickliter said.

The third-year head coach noted that John Lickliter’s play against Indiana was positive, specifically when he found freshman Brennan Cougill for back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half.

In 10 games this season, John Lickliter has only five turnovers in 133 minutes. But he’s averaging just 2.9 points per game, shooting 10-of-35 from the field (29 percent), with all but three of his shots coming from 3-point range.

“The negative on him is that he’s my offspring, so he’s not a good athlete, and he doesn’t have good size,” Todd Lickliter said. “But he’s able to make good plays in spite of that.”

Tucker may be returning soon

Tucker, who, while his suspension is over, still has not logged any playing time, may very well sit for the 12th game on Wednesday, when Iowa hosts Illinois. Lickliter said he hasn’t “totally made that decision yet” but said he wouldn’t expect Tucker to see the floor against the Fighting Illini.

The coach did indicate, however, that the sophomore’s return to the court could come sooner rather than later.

“We’re not getting farther away,” Lickliter said. “He has done what he’s supposed to do to this point. And I’ve got to say that my biggest concern is not how much Anthony plays. My biggest concern is that he’s on scholarship, that he is working toward a degree, and that he’s preparing himself for what lies ahead.”

Gatens’ ankle still sore

Matt Gatens said his ankle was still sore after injuring it on Jan. 27, the day of Iowa’s game against Ohio State. The sophomore guard still played 38 minutes against the Buckeyes, tallying six points on 2-of-7 shooting.

“It was pretty tough,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was going to play until probably 10 minutes before the game. … It’s just something I’m going to have to deal with and get past.”

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