The best defense is a good offense for Iowa men’s basketball


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Iowa men’s basketball head coach Fran McCaffrey said cleaning things up on the offensive end of the floor is a key to improving defensively.

The Hawkeyes allowed Virginia Tech to shoot a blistering 52.5 percent from the floor in a 95-79 loss in Blacksburg, Va., on Tuesday. The Hokies had success in transition, scoring 17 fast-break points.

McCaffrey said the issue wasn’t a lack of defensive effort but rather, a loss of composure on offense.

“A lot our problems in terms of transition defense were not as much [about] not getting back as it was poor shot selection,” McCaffrey said. “That’s a maturity thing, and that was everybody involved.”

The Hawkeyes took 22 shots from behind the arc and made just 4. A number of those misses sparked Virginia Tech runs. Freshman point guard Mike Gesell, who went 0-for-3 from 3-point range, said the team sat back too much against the Hokies’ zone defense and didn’t press the issue as much as it should have.

“Lately, we’ve been relying a lit bit too much on the 3-point shot,” Gesell said. “On nights like that, when it’s not falling, we’ve got to continue to attack more.”

One of the best ways to get a shooter going is at the free-throw line, he said. It helps get a shooter in rhythm and find his stroke. And the best way to get there is by driving and drawing contact, which the Hawkeyes haven’t done enough, the freshman said.

“We just haven’t been aggressive enough,” he said. “Like I said, we’ve got to continue to work on our toughness. We’ve got to continue to not be afraid to drive it in. Basketball is a game of runs. The other team might make a run, but you’ve got to move past that and make your own run.”

McCaffrey said a number of the missed shots from outside were good looks, but the situation called for a more deliberate offensive approach, particularly during the Virginia Tech runs.

“I would have liked to have seen us, if we were going to take the 3, at least take it at the end of the shot clock,” he said. “You could get the same shot at the end of the shot clock, but we needed to keep them on defense a little longer in that stretch.”

The shot selection was an issue, but the Hawkeyes also struggled to corral their misses. The Black and Gold snagged just 8 offensive rebounds on 33 missed shots. Junior Devyn Marble said that poor performance falls on everyone’s shoulders, not just the post players.

“[Rebounding] has been a struggle,” he said. “The guards, we’ve got to rebound more. I felt like I did a good job rebounding in this last game, but we’ve still got to make it a team effort.”

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