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12/2/2010: Iowa men’s basketball notebook

Posted on 02. Dec, 2010 by in Iowa Basketball

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Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery discussed the Hawkeyes' upcoming game against Idaho State and other topics surrounding his basketball team during a press conference at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010.

By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Like any other college sports program, the Iowa men’s basketball team is following the “one game at a time” cliché to a T under head coach Fran McCaffery.

But looking at the Hawkeyes’ upcoming schedule, one could argue that Iowa is about to enter a key stretch here.

Coming back from Winston-Salem, N.C., after a 76-73 loss on Nov. 30 to Wake Forest, the Hawkeyes now have the luxury of playing six of their next seven games in the confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Not only that, but with the one road contest during this 7-game stretch being at Drake on Dec. 18, they won’t even be leaving the state of Iowa this month.

This 7-game stretch begins with a game on Dec. 4 against Idaho State, which is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Central. Following the Hawkeyes’ battle with the Bengals, they begin their slate of in-state showdowns, starting with both Northern Iowa and Iowa State visiting Carver-Hawkeye Arena next week.

After the trip to Des Moines to face Drake on Dec. 18, Iowa ends its non-conference portion with a game against Louisiana Tech, then opens Big Ten play with two home games against No. 20 Illinois and No. 2 Ohio State.

“We’ve been traveling a lot, and I think that will be good to get home and play in front of our own fans,” junior guard Matt Gatens said. “I think it will be good to maybe get a rhythm back and get everything going, and get some wins before conference play starts.”

McCaffery jokingly said Thursday he would like having 35 games a season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. But when pressed about having this luxury of home games coming up in December, he was more serious and made clear the importance of focusing specifically on Idaho State and not looking ahead to the three in-state games coming up.

He added that these next couple of days would be spent working on areas he initially hoped his team would have had down by this point in the year.

“Little by little, we’ll get everything in. We’ll start to execute it better,” McCaffery said. “As you play teams that start to game plan for you and some teams that are really talented, you need more. You need more in your arsenal.”

Attention to detail

Before every game, the Hawkeye players are issued a scouting report from coaches about their upcoming opponent. So given the experience of McCaffery and all three of his assistants, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise how thick the scouting reports are.

Sophomore guard Eric May said the scouting reports put together by McCaffery and his staff are “a lot more detailed,” and that the number of pages are “too many to count.”

The Dubuque native also added that he finds himself looking at the scouting report for the upcoming game every night before turning the lights out.

“We really know our guys in and out that we’re playing,” May said. “We know the scouting report. We just got to put it together on the court and really keep the game plan in mind.

“It’s just information that we need to really understand what teams are going to do.”

The thickness of the scouting reports and the amount of information compressed into them when the coaches give them to the players was a topic of conversation when McCaffery was at the podium Thursday. He explained the variety of things he’ll present to the players following some film study, and said the preparation is significant in terms of what he wants them to do.

“In truth, you’re never going to be able to execute it to perfection. There are too many things happening,” McCaffery said. “But the philosophy is if they can remember most of it, if they can remember it at crunch time, then it will impact the outcome of the game.”

Two fouls and you’re out

McCaffery made it clear from the get-go to his players: Pick up two fouls at any point during the first half, and they can expect to remain on the bench until the second half.

This was tested immediately in the Hawkeyes’ contest against Wake Forest when junior guard Bryce Cartwright picked up two early fouls in what was just his second start for Iowa. Just like that, Cartwright was taken out and didn’t get any more playing time until the beginning of the second half. This was despite the Hawkeyes already being short-handed at point guard with sophomore Cully Payne recovering from a sports hernia.

Gatens also picked up two fouls in the first half and was taken out. McCaffery said the thought of putting him back in before the half crossed his mind, but decided to stick to the script.

“There was no reason in that game to do so because we had a double-digit lead,” McCaffery said about the decision to leave Gatens on the bench when he came out with two fouls. “They know if they get two fouls, they’re not going to play the rest of the half.”

The player who benefited the most from Cartwright’s foul trouble against Wake Forest was freshman guard Roy Devyn Marble, who McCaffery said earlier in the week would be playing at the point behind Cartwright while Payne recovers from surgery.

While the plan would be for Cartwright to be on the floor as often as possible for the Hawkeyes, Marble anticipates another game coming at some point where he’ll be asked to step up.

“In a situation like that, you don’t have time to be thinking about what you’re doing. You just go out there and do what you can,” Marble said. “When Bryce picked up his second foul, I was on the bench just waiting. I knew I had to go in at that point in time.

“I wasn’t tired until maybe deeper into that first half and [Branden] Stubbs was able to give me a break, then I came back in. But I just came in, ran the offense, and did what Coach wanted me to do.”

TV updates

Prior to Thursday’s press conference, announcements were made about two Iowa games, including the Hawkeyes’ contest against Idaho State.

This weekend’s contest will not be televised. The only way fans not in attendance at Carver-Hawkeye Arena will be able to watch it live is via video stream at the Big Ten Network’s official web site.

As for Iowa’s game on Jan. 16 at Minnesota, the opening tip has been confirmed by both schools to be set at 5 p.m. Central. That game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

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