Clemmons getting locked in once again for Iowa men's basketball

BY TORK MASON | APRIL 02, 2013 5:00 AM

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Anthony Clemmons has had a roller-coaster season, but he’s hitting another peak as the Iowa men’s basketball team prepares for the NIT Final Four in New York City this week.

The freshman wowed fans with his 14-point, 8-assist performance against Iowa State on Dec. 7, 2012. That night marked the start of a six-game stretch in which Clemmons averaged 6 assists and just 2.7 turnovers per game.

But his play began tailing off in mid-January. His minutes declined as the Big Ten season wore on before bottoming out against Indiana State in the Hawkeyes’ first-round NIT game on March 20. The Lansing, Mich., native posted no points or assists, 3 fouls and turnovers in just six minutes of action.

Clemmons had a solid performance against Virginia in the NIT quarterfinals, though, and helped propel the Black and Gold to its first NIT Final Four in school history. He put up 7 points and 4 assists in 19 minutes of relief for an ailing Mike Gesell. Head coach Fran McCaffery said Clemmons’ struggles aren’t from a lack of talent.

“He’s one of those guys that his concentration wavers occasionally,” McCaffery said. “That’s why, of all the players on the team, I’m usually on him the hardest because he’s got everything that you need in terms of ability.”

There have been several instances this season in which Clemmons has skulked to the bench after a poor play, with McCaffery in his ear the whole way. McCaffery said he’s never worried about Clemmons’ confidence falling beyond repair. He said Clemmons is a tough kid who can take the tongue-lashing.

Clemmons didn’t disagree with his coach regarding the level of fire directed his way or his ability to handle it.

“He’s exactly right,” Clemmons said with a wide grin. “I think all the coaches get on me more than they get on anybody. It’ll either make you or break you.

“The day that they stop yelling at me, that’s the day when I’m going to be worried.”

Clemmons hasn’t been the only one to struggle at times this season, and Devyn Marble was able to speak from experience as he helped Clemmons through the rough outings. He said he made sure the freshman understood that mistakes aren’t as important as the way a player responds to them.

“That’s what you ask of your freshman point guard: just make plays,” Marble said. “I know you’re going to mess up, but don’t worry about it … I just told [Clemmons], ‘We need you.’ [Clemmons is] a freshman; it’s a long season. I know how it is to be a freshman.”

Clemmons said he had several coaches and teammates giving him advice, but it was ultimately on him to get his mind right and play the way he’s capable.

“It’s all a mindset thing,” Clemmons said. “Really, my mind just wasn’t there; with the struggles I was having, I was always down on myself. I just had to get back to telling myself I have to attack and be more of a player.”

“Basketball is full of mistakes; you’re never going to hear about anybody playing a perfect game.”

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