Men’s hoops shooting much better at home

BY IAN MARTIN | JANUARY 25, 2011 7:10 AM

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Carver-Hawkeye Arena isn’t exactly synonymous with the idea of a home-court advantage.

But this season’s statistics prove that Hawkeye men’s basketball just loves being in Iowa City.

The disparity between Iowa’s home and away shooting percentages isn’t staggering for the difference in the numbers but more so for the low numbers that Iowa is putting up on the road.

Really, this margin can be described better as more of an away-court disadvantage.

So far this season, Iowa is shooting almost 8 percent better at home — 46.7 percent to 39.8 — and almost 12 percent better from long range. The Hawkeyes shoot 38.3 percent from behind the 3-point line in Carver-Hawkeye and hits just 26.5 percent on the road.

Combine those figures with Iowa’s disparity of final scores. The Hawkeyes have an average final score of plus 4.3 at home — this number not including the game in which Iowa defeated Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 111-66 — while the team’s average final score on the road is minus 7.25.

In the Big Ten, where Iowa has had some tough early games, the team is averaging a final score of minus 5 at home. On the road, it’s minus 18.3.

There’s a variety of factors at work when any team takes the floor at an opposing arena. Iowa’s best shooter, junior guard Matt Gatens, said that the background is tough to adjust to, because some arenas have a wall and others put a student section behind the basket.

Even rims tend to be different from place-to-place — Gatens cited Ohio State as having “soft” rims and Purdue for having “hard” rims — which can affect the precision with which a shooter must fire the ball.

But even more important than the toughness of the road, he said, is just the creature comforts of home.

“You try to say it’s the same ball, same distance, same hoop,” Gatens said. “But obviously we practice [at Carver-Hawkeye Arena] way more.”

Senior Jarryd Cole, the experienced sage on an inexperienced squad, credited the away fans with possibly being the factor in Iowa’s worse performances during away games.

“The whole crowd is against you,” he said. “The only thing pulling for you is the guys on your bench and the other four working with you on the court.”

Currently, Iowa is just 2-6 in games away from Carver-Hawkeye; the squad has a respectable 6-5 record at home. This includes the team’s only Big Ten win.

Playing better on the road could be Iowa’s biggest obstacle in escaping mediocrity in the coming years.

A look at the current conference leader will say as much.

No. 1 Ohio State, a team that Iowa lost to at home by 5 and on the road by 22 and one of two undefeated teams left in the country, statistically plays better outside Value City Arena. The team makes more than half of its shots on the road, currently shooting 50.7 percent and shoots almost 5 percentage points better from long range — 44.5 away as opposed to 39 percent in games in Columbus.

Iowa sophomore guard Eric May shooed away any talk about factors outside of the players when it comes to winning more away contests, however, aside from a possible lack of nonconference road games.

Still, he conceded that there’s certain advantages to seeing the Carver bowl in the background when hoisting up a shot.

“Maybe Carver’s [rims are] a little softer,” he said. “But I’m not complaining about it.”

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