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Notebook: Stokes steps in, Cartwright questionable

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | FEBRUARY 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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Fran McCaffery told Darius Stokes to be ready to play this past weekend against Indiana. The walk-on forward needed to be, especially with Eric May out with back spasms.

The redshirt freshman delivered, recording an offensive rebound and put-back in five minutes — the first meaningful playing time of his career.

 

Now, Stokes craves another opportunity even more.

"That's so much fun just be in there," he said on Tuesday. "I want more time being in there, so I'm just going to work that much harder just to get more opportunities."

McCaffery stumbled upon the Cedar Rapids native while recruiting Marcus Paige, Stokes' high-school teammate.

"We invited him down with his parents for a visit, and we offered the [walk-on] opportunity," McCaffery said following Iowa's 78-66 victory over the Hoosiers. "[His parents] said, 'Well, we'll think about it.'

"He said, 'No, we're not going to think about it … I've always wanted to be a Hawk,' so it was done right there."

McCaffery saw potential in Stokes — the son of Greg Stokes, Iowa's third all-time scoring leader (1,768 points). So when the younger Stokes was still eligible to take a redshirt last year after playing in only 10 games, McCaffery used it.

"That's why we redshirted him last year — because I think he's got a chance," McCaffery said at a press conference on Tuesday. "I don't look at him as a walk-on where he's going to run the other team's offense [in practice]. He's somebody who has some definite talent and character."

Stokes said wearing the Black and Gold "has always been a dream of mine." For now, he'll continue to approach practice with the same attitude in hopes of earning more time.

"All I can do is just work hard in practice," Stokes said. "I'm not going to know when I'm going to get minutes. If I get the opportunity in a game, I'm going to make the most of it."

Cartwright questionable for Thursday

Bryce Cartwright is questionable for Thursday's game against Wisconsin, McCaffery said. The senior point guard suffered a high-ankle sprain during practice on Feb. 11 and has missed Iowa's last two games.

Cartwright said his ankle is improving, and he didn't rule out playing, adding that he's "taking it day-by-day."

The Compton, Calif., native is averaging 6.4 points per game and 4.3 assists, the Big Ten's fourth-best rate.

"You know you don't want to rush these things," Cartwright said. "You want to be healthy and at the same time, help your team. If you're not helping the team, you're hurting the team."

Hawkeyes look for big home-court advantage on Thursday

A larger-than-usual student section "made a big difference" the last time Iowa admitted students for free, McCaffery said. Iowa defeated Minnesota, 63-59, on Feb. 1.

The Hawkeyes hope for a similar result Thursday, when students are again given free admission. UI Student Government will reimburse student season-ticket holders for $5 at the game if they present their season tickets and student IDs.

"I'm really excited. I've been saying it before, I love when students get in for free," freshman forward Aaron White said. "It changes the game totally, how much energy they bring. Not only does it help us, it can hurt the opposition, too … if they're loud enough. It should be a good atmosphere."

Follow DI men's basketball reporter Jordan Garretson on Twitter.


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