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Men's hoops ready to start over

BY SETH ROBERTS | NOVEMBER 16, 2010 7:20 AM

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Iowa's first game under Fran McCaffery was called a clean slate for the men's basketball program, but it didn't go quite as planned.

Maybe tonight's game will be a fresh start to the fresh start.

The Hawkeyes (0-1) will return to the court tonight to face Louisiana-Monroe (0-1) in a battle of young, inexperienced teams and first-year head coaches. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

McCaffery and his players disagree over the merit of playing just two days after a 79-69 loss to South Dakota State on Sunday. The coach said he wishes he had more time to clean up the turnovers and missed lay-ups that doomed the team; forward Jarryd Cole said he can't wait to seek redemption.

"This loss [to the Jackrabbits] isn't going to sit too well with us," he said on Sunday. "We're anxious to get back on the court. I say it's a really good thing — the guys are anxious, and I'm anxious."

The itch to return to the hardwood is a positive sign for the Hawkeyes. The team missed numerous wide-open lay-ups, committed 14 turnovers in the first half, and allowed an undersized Jackrabbit lineup to post 26 points in the paint and 15 points on second-chance opportunities.

Of all the things that need to be fixed, though, perhaps the most important is 3-point defense. South Dakota State sank 48 percent of its shots from beyond the arc, and Monroe boasts a guard with the skills to duplicate those numbers.

Junior Fred Brown tore open Texas Tech's defense on Nov. 12, connecting on seven of his 10 treys, and McCaffery emphasized the importance of shutting down opponents' jumpers.

"We didn't create, I don't think, enough turnovers in the second half with our pressure," he said. "Wedidn't do enough to disrupt [South Dakota State's] rhythm, and they're clearly a rhythm team."

Obstructing Monroe's rhythm won't be the only goal for a young team playing with an entirely new strategy. The Hawkeyes — especially the freshmen — seemed to suffer from first-game jitters, and sophomore guard Eric May said the team needs to settle in and relax while still playing a fast-paced style of offense.

"[The loss] wasn't us not being prepared; it was just rushed," he said. "That's something you can't really teach in practice. You just have to have composure."

While the inexperienced Hawkeyes were at a disadvantage against the Jackrabbits — who have been under the tutelage of Scott Nagy for 12 years — the field will be level against Monroe. Warhawk head coach Keith Richard is in his first year in charge of the program, and his team has the distinction of having the second-smallest number of returning players in the country. Only forwards Lawrence Gilbert and Tommie Sykes and center Fabio Ribeiro saw playing time for the Warhawks prior to this year; all three start, and they combined for 30 points against Texas Tech.

Iowa also starts three returning players, but a freshman exemplified the team's mentality after Sunday's game —forward Zach McCabe. He struggled against the Jackrabbits — he tallied 11 points but also turned the ball over three times and found himself in foul trouble — and said tonight's game is all about atonement.

"We have to correct some of the mistakes we made," the forward said. "It's kind of nice to have a game after you have a loss. We're going to have a mindset where, anyone who comes in here, we're going to kick their ass."


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