Brown: North Florida coach's critique of Iowa spot on
IOWA CITY, Ia. – The candid critique of Iowa's basketball team by North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll Monday night was a refreshing take from an outsider looking in.
And I think Iowa coach Fran McCaffery should play a video of Driscoll's analysis to his team before Tuesday's Big Ten opener at Ohio State.
Driscoll's analysis was unprovoked. He got there while answering his own question — why does Iowa struggle from the end of the first half to the start of the second half?
Finding a cure for that malaise is mandatory for Iowa to survive its 18-game Big Ten schedule. From the 1-minute mark of the first half to the first media timeout of the second half, which comes at the first dead ball after the 16-minute mark, Iowa has been outscored in its four losses, 49-17. In the last three games alone, it's 40-12.
There's also the issue of poor field-goal shooting. Iowa is shooting just 40.7 percent from the field through 13 games, and 30.5 percent from 3.
"Your guys, they get down when they miss a shot," Driscoll said. "And coach doesn't get on them. Coach doesn't sub them, coach doesn't do anything. Your guys have to get a little bit thicker skin and understand, 'I'm going to miss some shots.' "
When he watched tape of Iowa, Driscoll saw a lot of dropped heads after missed shots.
"I think that's something they've got to fix," Driscoll said.
The best way to do that, Driscoll said, is for every Iowa player to look in the mirror and say, "OK, what do I do, what does coach want me to do, how can I best serve this team?' And then have the heart … that's the key, the heart … to understand that's what I need to do."
Driscoll also said Iowa's players need to play to their strengths, whether it's Jarrod Uthoff shooting from 3, Aaron White driving to the basket or Mike Gesell being more aggressive earlier in the shot clock.
"I think if you guys do that, you guys are scary," Driscoll said. "Because you can rebound the ball, you don't foul a lot. Because of that, I think you guys are dangerous."
McCaffery was aware of some of Driscoll's comments, and agreed with them.
"I guarantee, he's watched every one of our games, probably twice," McCaffery said. "So he is qualified to make those remarks."
Basketball is unique in that it is played without a helmet or facemask hiding emotions. You can see the dropped head, or the sagging shoulders.
"Body language is very important in sports in general," White said. "Especially in basketball. And especially for shooters."
Fighting through missed shots will be mandatory moving forward.
"Sometimes you're frustrated, you miss and you kind of drop your head," White said. "But you don't realize that can trickle down to your next shot or your confidence level. It's something we've got to fix moving forward."
Heart and toughness, two more areas the Hawkeyes need to work on, define a team. And Iowa has it in them. The victory at North Carolina is a perfect example. Iowa played through 32.7 shooting from the field to win. With heart and toughness.
"That can overcome a lot of things," White said. "You see a lot of great teams, and they don't shoot it great, or they don't do this or that. But they win because they play together and they play hard."
And that's a good place for this Iowa basketball team to start.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.