Following a tough loss, Iowa basketball looks forward to first sellout home game
On Friday, Iowa's men's basketball team insisted that they're looking forward.
Two nights ago, a controversial call in the final seconds at Rutgers played a major part in the Hawkeyes (13-5, 3-4) failing to get over the .500 hump in Big Ten play.
Iowa's Patrick McCaffery echoed the same message from Friday: Amid the Big Ten season, you have to move on from wins and losses … fast.
"You usually think about it for the night, win or loss," McCaffery said. "Obviously they're incredibly important but one loss can turn into two and so on if you let it linger. Just move on to the next game and understand that every game is a unique challenge. And that's something that you just keep preparing and keep working the same way keep the process the same and just keep moving forward that way."
Their next game, Saturday at home against Penn State (8-7, 3-4), is significant for a few reasons. One, it'll feature two teams right in the mix for a .500 record in Big Ten play. For NCAA Tournament considerations, it's time to start getting on the other side of that win-loss ledger for teams.
And it's also key because it's Iowa's lone Saturday home game of the season and their first sellout.
"It would be nice if we had a few more (Saturday home games)," coach Fran McCaffery said. "I’m excited to have a great crowd."
ack of sellouts at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to this point has been a talking point among the Hawkeyes' fan base. This year's Big Ten scheduling gave Iowa only two Saturday games with one at home. By comparison, Michigan State has 10 games scheduled on Saturday, including eight at home and Wisconsin has five games on Saturday, including three at home.
Still, Iowa's players are thankful for their one, weekend spotlight game.
"I'm excited that our fans are able to get behind us," Patrick McCaffery said. "It means that we have a pretty good team if the fans are gonna come support us. So that's exciting. You know, just having the fans there makes a big difference. We make a shot it's crazy and loud in Carver so I'm excited. It's it's awesome to play in front of people."
The Hawkeyes will have their hands full with a Penn State team that coach McCaffery likened to Minnesota. Under first year head coach Micah Shrewsberry, a former Purdue assistant, Penn State has utilized the transfer portal to help fill out the roster. This includes, according to McCaffery, three players who were the best player on their teams last year: Jaheam Cornwall (Gardner-Webb), Jalen Pickett (Siena) and Greg Lee (Western Michigan).
"They’re veteran guys. They’re fulfilling roles," Fran McCaffery said. "They’ve got some good players from last year. Then you add (transfers). They’re all 22 years old, and Micah is a really good coach, so they’re buying into what he wants to do, the system that he’s put in place."
Some good news for Iowa is that center Filip Rebraca will play after injuring his ankle against Rutgers on Wednesday. His last two games where he's averaging 10 points and 11 rebounds were his best two-game stretch as a Hawkeye.
McCaffery, though, isn't peaking too far ahead. His concern is just winning each next game.
"You just keep trying to get better," the Hawkeyes coach said. "Some days you play better than others. You’re trying to bring individuals along. You’re trying to tweak what you’re running, what you’re doing defensively, preparing your scouting report for the next team who’s different than the team you just played.
"It’s a grind. The critical thing is the guys know and understand that, to take care of their bodies and stay rested and just get ready to compete."
Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.