IOWA CITY, Ia. — In recent seasons, the Iowa men have played one exhibition basketball game and had one private scrimmage against another Division I team.
But the Hawkeyes are going with two exhibition games this season, starting with Thursday’s 7:05 game against Sioux Falls at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa usually plays in a tournament around Thanksgiving, like the 2K Classic in New York City last season. In a majority of those tournaments, a school plays two games on campus and two more at a neutral site.
Iowa is playing in the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 26-29. That is a three-game, eight team event with no home games on the front end. That left Iowa shy a home date, so the decision was made to play a second exhibition game.
“We did it for the fans,” said McCaffery, whose team will also play Augustana of South Dakota Nov. 6.
Thursday’s game will give those fans a chance to see Iowa’s six-man recruiting class in action for the first time. That class is junior college transfer Dale Jones and freshmen Isaiah Moss, Brandon Hutton, Ahmad Wagner, Andrew Fleming and Christian Williams.
“It’s an opportunity for those kids to go out in a dress-rehearsal situation and see what they can do,” McCaffery said. “And if they fail, we’ve got another one. So that’s not a bad thing.”
This Iowa squad is a unique combination of fresh faces and grizzled veterans. Four starters — Adam Woodbury, Mike Gesell, Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok — return from last season’s 22-12 team that reached the round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Anthony Clemmons also has starting experience.
The private scrimmage had been a perfect opportunity to break in newcomers in an experimental setting.
“Guys can kick it all over the building and nobody would care about it,” McCaffery said. “So now, you’re going to know about it. You’ve got to go out there and perform in front of people and see what you can do.”
In a private scrimmage, there were no time constraints. The two coaches would agree to play extended minutes to work on special situations.
“You play the young guys, play the old guys, play a combination, play the walk-ons, play zone, play man,” McCaffery said.
Thursday doesn’t provide the same luxury.
“Can you go out there and perform under pressure and execute what we’ve learned in practice without making mistakes, without making crazy fouls?” McCaffery said. “Can you score the ball? Can you defend? Can you make plays? Do you understand what it takes? So we’ll find out.”
Sioux Falls, an NCAA Division II school, went 8-21 last season. One of the Cougars’ returning starters is 6-foot-8 forward Jordan Stotts from Waukee. He averaged 7.9 points and 3.7 rebounds last season.
Iowa vs. Sioux Falls
Time: 7:05 p.m.
Radio/TV: WHO-AM, Des Moines (1040) and Hawkeye Radio Network; BTN Plus.
Tickets: $5 for adults. Youth (18 and younger) and students admitted free.