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11/29/2012: Iowa men’s basketball notebook

Posted on 29. Nov, 2012 by in Iowa Basketball

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Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery discusses the Hawkeyes’ upcoming game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi during a press conference held Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa — For two weeks, the Iowa Hawkeyes were away from their Carver-Hawkeye Arena surroundings, being tested in a pair of games at the Cancun Challenge in Mexico and most recently at Virginia Tech for its Big Ten/ACC Challenge match-up.

Iowa passed its first test down in Mexico against Western Kentucky, but now finds itself on a two-game slide after losing to both Wichita State and Virginia Tech.

Since returning home from Blacksburg, Va., all the Hawkeyes have heard about over the past 48 hours has been how their defense hasn’t gotten better. Statistical evidence of this would be in its last two losses, where Iowa gave up 75 points to the Shockers and followed that up most recently by giving up 95 points to the Hokies.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said however that the porous defense against Virginia Tech specifically was a byproduct of taking ill-advised shots.

“We’re shooting 3s that are missing and they’re making lay-ups. It’s hard to win that way,” McCaffery said. “That was disappointing that we didn’t concentrate because when we did drive the ball, when we did throw the ball into the post, we scored or got fouled.

“We’ve got to continue to move the ball in and out.”

Players such as junior forward Zach McCabe said a greater emphasis needed to be place back on defense, not allowing teams to kill Iowa on the perimeter like Virginia Tech did. Freshman guard Mike Gesell echoed sentiments shared by McCaffery Thursday about playing tougher.

To that toughness angle, one major concern has been rebounding. In the last three games all played away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena, teams have combined for 40 offensive rebounds and 45 second-chance points against Iowa.

“If we can get more guys on the boards, it will help us get out faster and create more opportunities on the offensive end,” freshman center Adam Woodbury said.

Woodbury and foul trouble

Through seven games, a theme has grown with the 7-1 Woodbury — when he’s on the floor versus when he isn’t.

Woodbury has proven to be a consistent producer for Iowa when he has seen minutes, but getting in early foul trouble has been a glaring weakness thus far. In Iowa’s most recent game against Virginia Tech, the Sioux City native found himself picking up two quick fouls early on and sitting on the bench for the rest of the first half.

Then came the second half though, where he stayed out of foul trouble and in the process, played a key part in the Hawkeyes’ 16-2 run that made it a one-possession contest before the Hokies pulled away for good.

It’s a trend he said he’s all too familiar with.

“That’s kind of how my career has always been. If I get those couple of quick fouls, I usually don’t get a third one the rest of the game,” Woodbury said. “It’s kind of tough to play like that. But I got to not get that second one so quick and be able to play more of the first half.”

McCaffery said the solution for Woodbury staying out of foul trouble was pretty simple — “tall up.”

“He tends to turn sideways and block shots. He’ll bring his arm down and they’ll become what you would call ‘cheap fouls,’ but he is actually fouling the guy,” McCaffery said. “If he just talls up, he is a really hard guy to score over. You saw that in the second half, in particular. When we made our run, they missed a lot of shots getting close to the basket because he just got big. Then he goes after it with two hands and limits them to one shot.”

Iowa’s 16-2 second-half run the other night showed the significance of Woodbury, not only at the defensive end of the floor with altering shots, but also at the offensive end, where he and junior guard Devyn Marble were successfully able to use pick-and-roll.

“Their big man wasn’t communicating with [Erick] Green on where the screen was coming and I noticed that, so I exploited it,” Marble said. “Also, they like to go bump-and-under. I was shooting the ball really well, so I was able to get to where I wanted on the floor.

“As my aggressiveness started to turn on, then I was able to get Woody on some rolls and stuff like that. So for the situation and how they were playing us, it was a really good time for that to start clicking.”

Ingram more confident

Among the short list of positives that have come away from Iowa’s two-game losing streak is the involvement of freshman guard Patrick Ingram in the rotation. After barely seeing the floor in any of Iowa’s first five games, Ingram has not only played more total minutes during the last two contests, but has seen those minutes during the first halves of both games.

Prior to the Virginia Tech contest, McCaffery said Ingram’s confidence began to grow shortly after the season started. As the Indianapolis product became more confident in his play, McCaffery had more of a belief to put him in crucial situations against quality opponents as opposed to playing garbage minutes against more inferior competition.

That growing confidence was something teammates began to notice in him as well.

“Pat just works his butt off,” Gesell said. “It’s no joke that he’s going to be a lockdown defender. It’s no secret. He’s definitely a hard-worker.

“It took him a little bit to get used to the system, but I think he’s starting to get going now and he’ll definitely be able to help us in some of these games.”

Ingram’s addition to the rotation now puts Iowa 11-deep after starting the season by going as many as 10-deep. McCaffery said he doesn’t see any changes to that.

“That’s something that will just manifest itself over time, I guess,” McCaffery said. “But pretty much all 11 of those guys are going to get in.”

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