Tuesday, 25th June 2024

COMMENTARY: Little to take away (premium)

Posted on 09. Jan, 2014 by in Iowa Basketball


By Brendan Stiles


IOWA CITY, Iowa — In all honesty, there wasn’t much to take away at all from what transpired inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday.

No. 20 Iowa did exactly what it was expected to do against Big Ten cellar dweller Northwestern. The Hawkeyes won with ease, defeating the Wildcats, 93-67.

They did it without the services of Fran McCaffery, who faced a one-game suspension from the Big Ten after what happened in Madison last weekend. But if this whole “playing without McCaffery” thing is being looked at objectively, his absence didn’t really hurt this team on Thursday. Not because he isn’t vital to their success — he is — but because all he missed was the game.

McCaffery got to be around the team in the days leading up to this game. He got to coach them in practice, run team meetings, even eat the pregame meal with the guys before they took the hardwood. Just because he wasn’t there physically Thursday night didn’t mean he didn’t have his imprint on this game because he very much did. Honestly, that wasn’t as severe a punishment as it initially sounded to be when it was first announced.

Then let’s look at who Iowa played Thursday night. Chris Collins looks like a good hire that could eventually do some things at Northwestern down the road. But right now? The Wildcats are, by far, the worst team in the Big Ten. They looked eerily similar at times to McCaffery’s first Iowa team in 2010-11, which only won 11 games. Northwestern received a few decent performances Thursday, but beyond that, not much.

Which leads back to the Hawkeyes. Yes, they looked like a determined, focused, whatever adjective along these lines one wants to use, team against the Wildcats. As they should have. Quite frankly, this was a game Iowa was always expected to win, even when the season began. Good teams like Iowa’s capable of being shouldn’t lose to teams like Northwestern, especially at home.

Now it will get interesting this weekend. Iowa travels to Value City Arena on Jan. 12 to play No. 3 Ohio State. But nothing that happened Thursday suddenly provided a change of thought pertaining to this weekend.

The Hawkeyes are going to be an underdog in Columbus. In fact, they’re probably going to be a double-digit underdog whenever Las Vegas releases the odds. Because realistically, Ohio State has been the one historically bad match-up for Iowa under McCaffery.

The Buckeyes are the one Big Ten team he has yet to beat and the challenge for the Hawkeyes here will be repeating what they were able to do offensively on Thursday against a team that plays as good a defense as Ohio State does. Iowa shot 8-of-14 from 3-points range and 27-of-36 from the free-throw line against the Wildcats. These numbers probably won’t be repeated in Columbus this weekend, but comparable numbers will be needed if Iowa’s going to have any shot at pulling the upset.

There just wasn’t much to take away from Thursday. Whatever could be taken away were things that were already known and established, whether it’s with regard to what unfolded in this game or what will likely happen three days from now.


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