New-look bench impressive for Hawkeyes heading into Madison

BY TOM CLOS | FEBRUARY 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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If not for the performance of the Iowa men’s basketball team’s reserve players in Sunday’s gut-wrenching 62-59 defeat at Minnesota, there is a good chance the Hawkeyes would have been run out of Williams Arena.

The Black and Gold bench featured four different scorers and outpaced the Gophers’ reserves, 27-0; they supplemented disappointing offensive performances from a good chunk of the team’s starting lineup.

Junior guard Devyn Marble and freshman center Adam Woodbury combined to produce only 4 points.

“You look at [the Minnesota] game, our starting lineup was down 14-2, and the backups came back and cut the lead,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in his weekly teleconference. “It’s been like that all year long. Game to game, we’ve had different guys.”

Junior forward Zach McCabe led the pine players with 10 points, and sophomore guard Josh Oglesby added 8 and three assists. The duo combined to shoot 5-of-13 from 3-point range.

Oglesby’s solid day from the field was a nice sight for the Hawkeyes who, since the outset of the season, have called on the underclassman countless times for big shots from deep. Most of the campaign has been a bust for Oglesby, but a solid shooting day in Minneapolis has renewed hope of a late-season surge by the Cedar Rapids native.

“When I’ve been wide open in games, I’ve tried to aim it and get my shot perfect,” Oglesby said last week. “But Coach [Kirk] Speraw said I should just let it fly like I do in practice.”

A new wrinkle was added to the bench corps when McCaffery decided to move previous starter freshman guard Anthony Clemmons to a backup role and junior forward Melsahn Basabe to the starting lineup prior to the Penn State game on Jan 31.

For Clemmons, the rookie has admitted that he is in a better, overall more comfortable position coming in as a change of pace rather than carrying the burden of a team in the starting role.

“It’s been a lot of stress relief,” Clemmons said last week. “When you’re starting you’ve got to control the tempo of the game, but coming off the bench all I think about is giving my team a boost.”
With all the struggles and inconsistencies the starting five have posed for McCaffery, the overall reliability of the bench to step up for him has been a load off his back.

“To be able to go to the bench and have [Josh] Oglesby, Zach McCabe, and Eric May along with Anthony Clemmons in particular play the way they did [at Minnesota],” McCaffery said. “Those guys were spectacular.”

Hawkeyes look for fourth-straight win over Badgers

The bench players will have to be spectacular once again for the Hawkeyes (14-8, 3-6 Big Ten) when they head to Wisconsin for a date with the Badgers (15-7, 6-3) at the Kohl Center in Madison tonight.
Iowa will be looking for its fourth-straight victory over its northern rival after sweeping the home and home series last year and beating the Badgers, 70-66, in Iowa City Jan. 19. The defeat at Carver-Hawkeye Arena last month was Wisconsin’s first blemish in conference play and kicked off a stretch in which the Badgers have lost three of their last five games. Wisconsin got back on track in its last game: a 74-68 victory at Illinois on Feb 3.

Madison hasn’t been kind to the Black and Gold in recent years — the Hawkeyes’ 72-65 triumph at the Kohl Center a year ago was only their second win at Wisconsin since 2000.

McCaffery admitted it will be tough for his crew to escape the Kohl Center with a win for the second-straight year but nonetheless insisted that trips like this build character.
Especially for such a young team like Iowa come March.

“We’re so road-tested. We’re playing against really tough, physical, quality defenses,” McCaffery said. “By virtue of what we go through, I think that would help us. In theory, that should be beneficial.”

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