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Busy week no cause for alarm for Hawks

[ 0 ] February 24, 2014 |

Playing three games in six days might seem like a daunting task, but Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery sees it differently.

“Yeah, it’s a busy week, but I’m not so sure that this time of the year the players wouldn’t rather play games anyway,” McCaffery said Monday morning on the Big Ten teleconference. “I think they’re tired I practicing by the time we get to the end of February.

“And we’re welcoming the opportunity to prepare for a game and then go play a game.”

Iowa’s busy week will start Tuesday with a game at Minnesota followed by a game at Indiana on Thursday and a game against Purdue on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa was supposed to play Indiana on Feb. 18 at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind., but that game was postponed and moved to this week after a piece of metal fell from the ceiling at Assembly Hall that afternoon.

Iowa’s upcoming game against Purdue also was moved from Saturday to Sunday to provide more time in between games.

McCaffery said his team will fly from Minneapolis to Bloomington after Tuesday’s game instead of returning to Iowa City.

Iowa, with records of 19-7 overall and 8-5 in the Big Ten, is trying to bounce back from a 79-74 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“After the Wisconsin game, we’ve just been getting ready for Minnesota,” McCaffery said. “We have a two-day prep and we’ll go over and play them.”

The Iowa players are familiar with the Indiana game plan after preparing to face the Hoosiers last week.

“We had already prepped for the game, so it’s not like we’re starting from scratch,” McCaffery said. “We haven’t played them this year, so it’s clearly a different team. But they know a lot of the players and they’ve watched them on television because it’s late in the season and we’ve watched a ton of tape on (Indiana) already.”

As for the Gophers, Iowa is familiar with them, too, after winning the first game between the two teams this season 94-73 on Jan. 19 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa made 9-of-20 3-point baskets in that game and outscored the Gophers 53-30 in the second half.

Minnesota’s NCAA Tournament hopes are hanging by a thread with records of 17-11 overall and 6-9 in the conference. The Gophers lost at Ohio State 64-46 on Saturday and have dropped six of their last eight games under first-year coach Richard Pitino.

They haven’t lost their fighting spirit, though, according to Pitino, who expressed his satisfaction with his team Sunday afternoon on Twitter .

“Best practice of the year by far. Showed me our guys really care. Stick with us Gopher fans. We need everybody on Tuesday.”

Pitino disagreed when asked Monday on the Big Ten teleconference if his team was desperate.

“We don’t look at desperation at all,” Pitino said. “We’re very, very positive with a lot of things we’ve done. We’ve got to correct a lot of mistakes, but more than anything, the past is irrelevant, the future is irrelevant; we put ourselves in a good position right now with three games left. We can choose to look at it one way or we can choose to look at it another way. We’re choosing the positive here. We’re excited about the opportunities and we’re going to make the best of them.”

McCaffery also disagreed when asked Monday if playing on the road might be what Iowa needs after losing three of its last four Big Ten games at home.

“I’d much rather play at home, that’s how I look at it,” McCaffery said. “I wouldn’t agree with that. I would think you’d have to focus whether you’re playing at home or on the road or at a neutral site, just focus on the next game. So that’s a little bit confusing to me.”

Iowa is 6-0 in games following a loss and 14-1 in games when it makes at least five 3-point baskets. Iowa’s seven losses have come against teams ranked in the top-25 by a combined 26 points, including two in overtime.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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