Iowa hoops takeaways: No tough talk needed after Cy-Hawk loss
IOWA CITY, Ia. — There was no rah-rah, rally-the-troops speech after Iowa’s tough-to-take 83-82 loss at Iowa State last week.
“If something needs to be said,” Jarrod Uthoff, one of four Hawkeye senior starters, said, “it’ll be said.”
Players don’t need to remind each other they led by eight points and had the ball with under 2 minutes left at Hilton Coliseum before suffering a stunning rivalry-game defeat.
“There wasn’t anything that needed to be said after that,” center Adam Woodbury said. “Everyone knew we had to get back to work and get prepared for Drake.”
That’s what is next for 7-3 Iowa, No. 26 in the NCAA’s RPI: Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game in the Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena against the No. 267-RPI Bulldogs (4-6). But with eight empty days between games, there have been a lot of Hawkeyes shooting alone in the gym during finals week.
“It’s a tough loss for us,” Uthoff said. “How we respond to that is going to be crucial to the rest of the season. I think we’ll respond well.”
“You cannot let one game define you,” McCaffery said. “So if you win the game, you run and jump on top of each other in the locker room and everybody is telling you how great you are when you walk to Jimmy John's, and now nobody wants to look at you.Fran McCaffery shares that bounce-back confidence after falling to 1-5 against the Cyclones as Iowa’s head coach.
“But you can't get emotional one way or the other, and I get it, it's hard. Everybody is writing about it. Everybody is tweeting about it, and they're attacking you or they're loving you. But it's such a long journey, you can't get caught up in that.
“It's easier for me because I've been doing it for 32 years. It's harder for a guy who's young and in the moment. So fortunately we have some older guys, I think, that can handle that.”
McCaffery was asked following the Iowa State loss if he considered calling his final timeout, down one with 8 seconds left.
“No,” he said.
Six days later, he expanded on his defense of not calling timeouts in end-of-game situations.
“You're giving them an opportunity to change personnel, change defenses, so you then have to in a timeout give them multiple play-call options, which is really complicated,” McCaffery said during Wednesday’s weekly news conference. “So if you know who's on the floor and what defense they're in and you have play action called, why do you have to call timeout? You're just going to come out and run what you just called.
“Everybody always says, what did you diagram? What ingenious thing did you come up with? Typically you have action, but ultimately somebody has got to make a play because they might take away that action.
“Now, in the case that you're talking about, we got the exact shot we wanted (and) the exact guy we wanted to shoot it.”
Uthoff had a 22-foot attempt for the win near the top of the key. It bounced off the rim, and fans stormed the court.
“If it gets fumbled or there's a charge or something, you feel, jeez, we should have taken a timeout,” McCaffery said. “But I'll always let my guys go.
“You say, jeez, Fran, there's only 9 seconds to go. If ever there was a good time to call it, it would be now. As long as I know that we can get into our stuff and I know exactly what defense they're in, and I've called multiple things, I'm going to keep doing it that way.”
'Hilton Magic' rebuffed
McCaffery watched as his team lost a 20-point second-half lead to the then-fourth-ranked team in the country – not an arena.
"Everybody wants to attribute magic to a building,” McCaffery said. “That's a good team. They have good players. If they didn't have good players, then you could scream and yell all you want (and) they wouldn't win. They've got good players. They've got a good coach.”
Tale of two halves
Uthoff’s incredible 30 first-half points against Iowa State led to just two in the second half.
“They were a little more locked in on me in the second half,” Uthoff said. “Basically, our offense didn’t have much spacing and ball movement. That was a big key.”
In Iowa’s last two games, Uthoff has set back-to-back career highs — 27 against Western Illinois, 32 against Iowa State. Fifty-four of those 59 points have come in the first half. He also scored all 21 of his points in the season opener against Gardner-Webb in the first 20 minutes.
“We tend to start standing around more (in the second half),” Uthoff said. “I think we need to fix that.”
McCaffery regretted not playing freshman forward Ahmad Wagner (3.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg) against the Cyclones.
“That was a mistake,” McCaffery said. “I should have played him, especially in the second half. Just get his athleticism out there, get him some experience.”
The two freshmen McCaffery is redshirting, Chicago wing players Brandon Hutton and Isaiah Moss, have progress to make.
“Isaiah needs to get stronger so he needs to get in the weight room with (strength coach) Bill Maxwell),” McCaffery said. “But they have to understand and conceptualize what we're trying to do at both ends, and it's taken them a little bit longer.”