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Iowa men's hoops to host Brown

BY BEN SCHUFF | DECEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa basketball team's offensive woes were painfully obvious on Nov. 29 against Clemson.

Iowa shot 28.6 percent from the field, connecting on only 7 field goals in the first half and 9 in the second period of a 71-55 loss.

But when head coach Fran McCaffery was asked if the loss was a direct result of his team's poor play offensively, he said the problems extend beyond just shooting.

"I think there's more than that — that obviously was a big part of it," he said, noting his players were getting good looks but the shots just weren't falling. "But that's when you really have to bear down defensively … it's going to be hard to win when you're 15-under on the glass."

McCaffery's squad has another chance to fix what's wrong when it hosts Brown (4-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday — but the question of what actually is wrong with a Black and Gold team that has lost three of its last four games seems to have many answers.

Ultimately, the Hawkeyes' biggest problem isn't just that a few starters are struggling on offense.

Nor has it been the team's inability to stop opponents defensively in its three losses.

It's both.

A perfect example came in the first half of Iowa's loss to Clemson. The Hawkeyes shot 2-of-13 from the field over an eight-minute period, while the Tigers shot 8-of-13 to take a 23-12 lead — an advantage they never lost.

That stretch exemplified the team's most prominent issues: Iowa isn't making baskets and isn't stopping opponents from making theirs. Iowa ranks 10th among Big Ten teams in field-goal percentage through seven games (43.1) and last in field-goal percentage defense (47.4).

Forward Eric May was asked after the Clemson game if the squad was carrying its offensive deficiencies down to the defensive end of the floor.

"It really shouldn't have an effect," he said. "Sometimes, it might psychologically take the wind out of your sails. But we have to play through that, especially when shots aren't going.

"That's part of basketball."

Guard Matt Gatens echoed that, saying it was if the Hawkeyes "were fighting ourselves."

The Tigers' perimeter shooting caught Iowa off guard, he said. Clemson's 11-of-21 performance from the outside was something Iowa didn't seem to have an answer for.

The Hawkeyes could see more 3-point shooting on Saturday; Brown guard Sean McGonagill is shooting 46 percent from the perimeter. The 6-1 sophomore has made at least three 3-pointers in five of Brown's eight games.

Iowa players said they hope Saturday's contest will give them an opportunity to start executing better at both ends of the floor.

"We just haven't played tough defense," forward Zach McCabe said. "We haven't got up into our guy [and] created turnovers.

"I just think we need to keep our heads up and keep playing hard. The offense will come. We just need to play smarter."

Follow DI men's basketball reporter Ben Schuff on Twitter.


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