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Iowa finding learning moments in losses as it heads to Michigan

BY JACOB SHEYKO | FEBRUARY 05, 2015 5:00 AM

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In the span of 11 days, Iowa went from being ranked for the first time this season to being unranked with three-straight losses.

One could think that Iowa’s recent three-game skid would have taken a toll on the Hawkeyes, that maybe they have begun to look at the games ahead as “must wins.” And that maybe the last two weeks hasn’t exactly been the most fun, given the circumstances.

One could think.

“It’s not tough at all,” Aaron White said following Iowa’s 74-63 loss to No. 5 Wisconsin. “This is a lot of fun to me. I love doing this. I love practicing, prepping for each game … You got to love what you’re doing, I definitely do. We’ll be ready for Michigan on Thursday.”

In retrospect, that may be what one should have expected from Iowa’s captain, particularly one who suffered through last year’s collapse at the end of the season, a collapse that resulted in Iowa’s dropping seven of its last eight games.

White said that he’s learned from that. He’s learned to enjoy the process, no matter how hard that may be, and to love that he wakes up every day and gets to play basketball.

He’s also learned what not to do in low-points of a season.

“Last year, I can admit, I got a little down,” he said. “I was sick of losing. I maybe had the wrong attitude in terms of wanting to win so bad instead of enjoying what we’re doing, preparing that way.
“You can’t start thinking, ‘We need the next five, because we lost the last three, or we need the next two.’ It’s nothing like that. It’s one game at a time. Enjoy the process.”

Some perspective is needed for Iowa’s three-game skid as well.

Dropping from tied for first in the Big Ten to the middle of the pack is never ideal. However, it likely stings a little less when two of the losses occur at the hands of one of the top-five teams in the nation (Wisconsin) and the other one on the road to a team with a 14-8 record (Purdue).

“No different, quite honestly, than if we had won these three games in a row,” head coach Fran McCaffery said on how the team will prepare for Michigan. “Think about where we’d be. Everybody would be jubilation; we’re in first place and all that. But got to go to work, got to play at Michigan on Thursday. We’ve got to get better at this, and this, and this. That’s what we do.”

Luckily for Iowa, it seems the worst is out of the way.

In in the Hawkeyes’ first eight Big Ten games — they played Ohio State and Wisconsin twice — opponents combined for a 130-47 record.

In the remaining 10 games, Iowa’s opponents have a combined record of 117-82, about the difference of playing a team with a .734 winning percentage, then playing a team with a .587 winning percentage.

“Just understanding that we still are at the cutoff point of the season, so we have another half to go,” center Gabe Olaseni said. “Hopefully, it’ll be better than what it is right now.”

So the Hawks moves on to Michigan today, because as they have learned from this season and last season, there’s no use in looking back.

Because just as quickly as Iowa’s fortunes turned into misfortune two weeks ago, the Hawkeyes hope, and understand, that it can turn around just as fast.

“We’re still a good team,” Olaseni said. “I’m going to keep saying that: We’re still a good team. We’re very talented, experienced, and we’ve lost to some very good teams. We have to understand that we have 10 games left.”

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa men’s basketball team.


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