Iowa men’s basketball forces 31 turnovers in exhibition romp

BY TOM CLOS | NOVEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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It seems that allowing 72.5 points per game, as the Iowa basketball team did last season, has grown out of style in Iowa City.

For proof, look no further than the Iowa men’s basketball team’s performance in its exhibition Sunday.

The Hawkeyes forced 31 turnovers, and freshman point guard Mike Gesell led all scorers with 18 points in a 100-54 blowout victory over Quincy (Ill.) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday. The matchup was the Black and Gold’s lone public scrimmage before opening one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory against Texas-Pan American on Friday.

“We turned them over and didn’t let them get into rhythm,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We have a lot of players we can press with, and as the game went on, we got better at it.”

Iowa threw a devastating full-court press at their Division-II opponents from the opening-tip, causing several miscues from the visiting Hawks’ offense — and eventually leading to 41 points off turnovers.

Gesell made his presence felt in all aspects of the contest, racking up a trio of rebounds and assists as well as a pair of takeaways to go along with his offensive outburst. He explained the emphasis his squad has put on being aggressive toward the ball and felt his team accomplished that task on Sunday.

“One of our main goals this year is to get after it on defense; we want to force turnovers to get out and run,” Gesell said. “And our press was giving them problems early.”

The rookie Nebraskan was just one of several who made their débuts in the Black and Gold on the afternoon. Freshmen Anthony Clemmons and Adam Woodbury also logged significant minutes in the decisive triumph.

Clemmons was part of a 25-0 run the Hawkeyes’ bench players put together midway through the second half, which effectively put the game away. McCaffery felt his backup guard responded well from an early bout with adversity.

“[Anthony] struggled in the first half but was terrific in the second half,” McCaffery said. “At halftime I said, ‘You’re better than that; go out and play they way you’re capable of.’ And he did.”

The lone area of tenderness the Hawkeyes exposed in the scrimmage was a knack for giving away possessions — Iowa coughed up the ball 17 times. Although that number didn’t hurt the Hawks against Quincy, junior forward Zach McCabe pointed out it will down the line against better talent.

“At the beginning, we were a little sloppy; it was probably just jitters,” McCabe said. “But in the future we have to make sure we don’t have as many turnovers as we did.”

Most of Sunday was a laugher for the reported 12,251 in attendance; Iowa’s head coach had a different opinion. He saw the contest as less of an easy victory and more as a piece of film that his team can use.

“It was kind of a scrambled game; we didn’t get into many sets,” McCaffery said. “[The turnovers] are great, and I want to play that way, but we have to be more efficient in our full-court offense.”

At the end of the day though, the lead Hawkeye was forced to applaud the gaudy numbers his group racked up — even though it was against a school from the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

“The important thing is we held them to a pretty decent number, 33 percent [shooting],” McCaffery said. “We had a couple of crazy fouls late, but again, when you’re pressing, that’s going to happen.”

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