Iowa takeaways: No spa day, better bench, a home-run quote
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Now what?
Sixth-ranked Iowa gets seven days to think about Wednesday’s 79-75 loss at Penn State.
“On to the next one,” Iowa senior Jarrod Uthoff said. “Can’t dwell on it.”
There might be a team meeting, senior Anthony Clemmons said.
“I think that’s what we’re going to do,” Clemmons said. “We’re just going to get guys re-focused, get us back in that hunger mode.”
One thing Iowa players won’t do to recharge?
“We don’t need to go to a spa,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “We need to work. I can’t make it any simpler than that.”
Junior Peter Jok said the team needs the rest to get their legs back.
Senior Adam Woodbury added this to the list: “Get some guys that are maybe banged up right now, get them some rest, get their bodies right for this last stretch of the season.”
The stretch run is a doozy for the Hawkeyes (20-6, 11-3), who were favored by nine points here but fell into a first-place tie atop the Big Ten Conference with Indiana (21-6, 11-3). Maryland (22-4, 10-3) is a half-game back and plays at Minnesota on Thursday.
Iowa’s last four games are against teams in the top half of the conference: Wisconsin (home, Feb. 24), Ohio State (road), Indiana (home) and Michigan (road). The Hawkeyes still control their own destiny to tie for their first Big Ten regular-season title in 37 years.
“Nothing changes,” McCaffery said. “No re-evaluation. No meetings. Just work. That’s all you do.”
After scoring just 14 total bench points on 4-for-20 shooting in the last three games, Iowa got 10 points from its reserves against Penn State.
Nicholas Baer was aggressive offensively, scoring all six of his points in the first half. Dom Uhl added some interior offense late with four. McCaffery didn’t use Brady Ellingson, who has been part of the nine-man rotation, for the second time this year.
“We did get 10 points off the bench; that was a good thing for us,” McCaffery said. “We hadn’t been getting that.”
'Nasty team' prevails
Before coming here, Iowa players acknowledged this would be a battle. They were right.
Penn State delivered a physical brand of defense that created a choppy game. Clemmons and Mike Gesell combined to shoot 4-for-13.
“They bumped us out of our normal cuts,” Clemmons said. “We just didn’t adjust to it quick enough.”
That was the Nittany Lions' plan.
“That’s how we want to be known as: as a tough, physical, nasty team,” Penn State’s Brandon Taylor said. “We brought that out tonight. I would like to think that slowed that team down. That’s a great team.”
Iowa has done a great job most of the season getting up for every game, every opponent.
Wednesday was a hiccup. Clemmons provided a baseball analogy to acknowledge what went wrong and what must be done from here.
“We can’t look at the home run. We’ve got to take it base by base — take it game by game and not look over our opponent,” Clemmons said. “That’s something we did. We probably should’ve locked in a little more on them.”