Iowa takeaways: Game ball felt 'heavy'; Uthoff's positive spin

Chad Leistikow
Maryland star Melo Trimble (2) was held to 11 points by Iowa, but the Hawkeyes had their own shooting struggles from outside, going 5-for-24 on 3-pointers.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – To be clear, Iowa players weren’t making excuses about the basketball used during the No. 3 Hawkeyes’ 74-68 loss to No. 8 Maryland at the Xfinity Center.

But there’s also no debating that Iowa didn’t shoot well from long range, tying a season low with five made 3-pointers, in its first game this season using an Under Armour brand ball. Maryland, as the home team, gets to choose the game ball.

“Yeah, for sure. It feels different. It’s heavy like a street ball, like an outside ball,” Iowa’s Peter Jok said. “No excuses. It does feel weird.”

Iowa shot a season-low 20.8 percent from 3-point range after having made at least 10 3s in four consecutive games.

“There was complaining about the ball, but I don’t think it had anything to do with the ball,” Jok said. “A ball’s a ball.”

Iowa point guard Mike Gesell said the team practiced with an Under Armour ball for three days leading up to this game. Maryland is the Big Ten Conference’s only team to use Under Armour; Northwestern formerly did.

“It’s a little different feel,” Gesell said. “At the same time, it’s the same weight, same size. Same shape, too.”

Iowa will get back to playing with its familiar Nike basketballs for the next two games – the Hawkeyes are home Sunday against Northwestern (2 p.m.) and Wednesday against Penn State (6 p.m.).

Big missing piece

Adam Woodbury, who was Iowa’s best player on this night against Maryland’s array of capable big men, recorded a third consecutive double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) Thursday night.

But he wasn’t around for the hectic finish. The 7-foot-1 center fouled out with 2:47 left.

“A lot (of impact),” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “With the size that they have, we need Woodbury.”

Maryland held a 62-60 lead as the clock wound under 1½ minutes, and 6-11 Diamond Stone broke free from Woodbury’s smaller replacement, Dom Uhl, for an uncontested dunk with 1:23 to play.

“That wasn’t just Dom Uhl’s fault. That was a collective mistake,” McCaffery said. “They swung the ball, we hugged away. If we’re going to front the post, you’ve got to get over. That was just a breakdown.”

Woodbury is also one of Iowa’s leaders in toughness. It was a helpless feeling on the bench as he watched the finish.

“Every game presents challenges, and some of the challenges we didn’t meet tonight,” Woodbury said. “That’s disappointing to say, but I think that we’ll look at the film and try to improve on this.”

Disciplined fans

Maryland’s student section was energized for this one. They held up newspapers with the headline, “BEAT IOWA,” and there were several signs razzing Woodbury, who poked Maryland guard Melo Trimble in the eye during last year’s meeting in Iowa City.

But give them credit on not storming the court despite beating the nation’s third-ranked team.

“They expect us to win, that’s the way it should be,” Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said. “Especially this time of year. It’s just good to have the students back. They were just terrific. The crowd was amazing.”

It was. And Maryland is now 14-0 here in conference play since joining the Big Ten.

Fans hold up a sign during the first half of the Maryland Terrapins and Iowa Hawkeyes game at Xfinity Center on January 28, 2016 in College Park, Maryland.

Positive spin

Iowa needs to flush this one and not slip up in the next 10 days. The Hawkeyes, after a brutal eight-game stretch to start Big Ten play, now get Northwestern (3-6 in the Big Ten, with four straight losses), Penn State (2-6) and Illinois (2-6).

This is a great chance for Iowa to take care of business and improve to 10-1 in league play entering a Feb. 11 showdown at Indiana.

So, it was good to hear a positive spin on Thursday’s loss from star forward Jarrod Uthoff.

“You take something out of it,” Uthoff said. “You take away that we just played one of the best teams in the country, and we stuck with them at their own place, not playing very well.”