Q&A: Katz semi-bullish on Hawkeyes

BY DI STAFF | FEBRUARY 27, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Daily Iowan caught up with ESPN.com’s senior writer and college basketball reporter Andy Katz to talk Twitter bans, the NCAA Tournament and Iowa’s current Big Ten slide.

DI: Devyn Marble has had a fantastic season, but is he a legitimate Big Ten Player of the Year candidate if Iowa continues to slide?

Andy Katz: He is, although I will tell you I don’t think he’ll win it unless Iowa goes on a legitimate run here. I don’t think the loss to Minnesota helps him. I think right now, you can make the argument, that if you cant settle on Gary Harris or someone like that, that the guy who is coming on strong right now who may have a legit shot to win it is Terran Petteway at Nebraska. 

DI: Most Iowa fans will be quick to point out that there are not a lot of bad losses on their résumé, but there also are not a lot of signature wins, either. Obviously, every team in the NCAA Tournament will be talented. What are the best and worst case scenarios for Iowa come March?

Katz: They have the potential to get to the Elite 8, but I’m going to say Sweet 16 based on the fact that, for whatever reason, they haven’t strung together significant wins in a row. It’s been sort of an Achilles heel for them. They have strung together a couple of good wins, but not a number of them in a row, and obviously, to get to the Elite 8, that means you have won three of those kind of games in a row. I think they are going to be in that seed area where they are going to have to win evenly matched games.

DI: Iowa has struggled in close games this season, especially against teams ranked in the top 25. Would you attribute that to this team never being on this kind of stage before? Or is Fran McCaffery being outcoached.

Katz: I wouldn’t say he’s being outcoached. He did make mistakes in the way in which he handled himself in a couple of instances; I don’t think that’s debatable. Their ability to close out has been mental, and they don’t have a lot of time to correct it, but it is correctable. They are talented, and with a senior and veteran-led squad could win four games in the tournament. They obviously have to do a better job here sooner rather than later. They could be one of those teams that makes the run to the Final Four that’s outside of the top 10.

DI: Obviously, the icy relationship between Iowa fans and players make news recently. Considering Iowa’s lack of success for the better part of the past decade, would you say fans in Iowa City are overreacting?

Katz: Unfortunately, the new norm is where everyone takes shots at you. We all get it. We all have to deal with it in some form, some more than others. You have to learn to have thicker skin and just ignore it and not respond. Even if they are including your name in something, really the only people who are seeing it is you and people who are following you. It’s not like it’s out there for everyone to see. You have to remember that and check that at the door and not be so reactionary. 

DI: There is quite the logjam at the top of the Big Ten. How do you see the conference’s tournament playing out?

Katz: Iowa is more than capable of winning the Big Ten Tournament, and if they do that, they will get a higher seed. As for Michigan State right now, I’m not on that bandwagon of “everything will be fine” because they haven’t practiced together. I do think if they are healthy and have time together, then yes, they can win a national championship. Wisconsin might be my favorite to win the Big Ten Tournament because of their ability to not get rattled. They were down again Wednesday night against Indiana, and they just sort of found a way. They find a way to win, and the way they play will serve them well in terms of being very even and consistent in a three-day tournament.

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