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Commentary: Hawkeyes’ heart on display in win

BY BRENDAN STILES | MARCH 01, 2010 7:30 AM

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Victories have been sparse during this season for the Iowa men’s basketball team.

But there is one facet the team has shown plenty of this year: heart.

No, it isn’t a statistical category, but Iowa’s 73-57 win over Indiana Sunday evening in Carver-Hawkeye Arena revealed major differences between the two squads.

More than a quarter of the way through the game, Iowa was up 17-4. Late in the second half, the Hawkeyes held a 60-39 lead.

Clearly, one team wanted it more.

For two teams that were and still remain nearly identical in the Big Ten standings, the separation between Iowa and Indiana is enormous.

Iowa sophomore Matt Gatens had one of the more solid performances of his career on Sunday, finishing with 25 points. The Hawkeyes also got 17 points from sophomore Aaron Fuller, and 13 from freshman Cully Payne.

But it wasn’t just the scoring. Iowa outrebounded Indiana 30-26, with 11 of those boards coming at the offensive end.

The Hawkeyes’ post presence produced as well. The game began with Fuller and junior Jarryd Cole dominating the paint, scoring Iowa’s first 12 points.

And while sophomore Andrew Brommer didn’t score and fouled out with more than 10 minutes remaining, he made a huge block at the end of the first half. He also managed a couple steals.

With the win, Iowa managed to send its lone senior, Devan Bawinkel, out on a high note, too. In fact, Bawinkel had the only bench points of the game for the Hawkeyes — a free throw, which came after driving hard to the bucket.

This season has not been successful. Iowa’s 10-19 record is a pretty solid indicator of that, and even head coach Todd Lickliter acknowledged afterwards how this week’s slate of road games at Wisconsin and Minnesota won’t be easy — nor will next week’s Big Ten Tournament.

In fact, it might be hard-pressed to find anyone outside the program who thinks the Hawkeyes will win either of those road games coming up.

But heart is the one thing you can’t fault with this team. Whether it’s against an awful team such as Indiana or a nationally ranked foe such as Ohio State, the Hawkeyes have not quit.

This season began and has remained ugly, and I’m sure there will be more bumps along the way between now and its conclusion.

Yet unlike an Indiana squad that has now lost 10-straight contests — the last seven by double-figures — Iowa will at least show some heart and will at least be competitive in these final weeks.

And no matter what the future brings for this program, knowing there isn’t any quit in these young guys now could be beneficial as they mature in the years ahead.


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