Men’s hoops still seeking first Big Ten win

BY IAN MARTIN | JANUARY 21, 2011 7:10 AM

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The Jan. 23 matchup between Indiana and Iowa will not be nationally hyped.

The game features the Big Ten’s ninth-place team in the Hoosiers (10-9, 1-5) and its last-place team in the Hawkeyes (7-11, 0-6).

Nonetheless, the game — set for a 2 p.m. tip-off in Carver-Hawkeye Arena — is essential for an Iowa team looking for some consistency in its lineup, and the players don’t want to remain in the cellar of arguably the nation’s toughest conference.

The Big Ten season has begun harshly for Iowa, seeing it open up with five of six games against ranked teams.

After another blowout loss on Wednesday — granted, it was against No. 1 Ohio State — the Hawkeyes remain searching for the day when all the team’s players are on their game at once.

At Ohio State, Iowa got good minutes from junior center Andrew Brommer, a player who can be described generously as inconsistent. But while he and point guard Bryce Cartwright did their respective parts — 12 points from Brommer and seven assists from Cartwright — two Hawkeye starters in Eric May and Jarryd Cole were held scoreless.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in a radio interview after Wednesday’s game that May’s lack of aggressiveness and lack of penetration was his downfall against Ohio State, and that can’t happen again.

“That’s Eric’s game is to attack the rim,” McCaffery said. “He didn’t do that, he was playing east and west; he wasn’t playing north and south.”

If the Hawkeyes want to win against Indiana — perhaps their best chance for a conference victory until Iowa travels to Bloomington to play the Hoosiers on Feb. 5 — more than just consistency will be required.

Iowa needs to turn in more hustle plays, whether that’s defensive intensity or sprinting after rebounds.

“It’s all about effort,” Brommer said in his postgame radio interview after Ohio State. “If you give effort, you’ve got a chance. We just need to hit the boards and get those 50-50 balls, and we’ll be all right.”

Maybe more than anything though, Iowa just needs familiarity. The team’s chances of winning its first Big Ten game on the road seem much lower than snatching a victory at home, especially when looking at the offensive numbers.

In its six conference games this year, Iowa is shooting 47.1 percent from the field at home and a solid 41.8 percent from 3-point range. Away, those numbers go down to 37.9 and 24.8.

The team’s head coach summed up these numbers simply after the Ohio State loss.

“We need to get back home,” McCaffery said.

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