A defining moment perhaps for Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery lies ahead, with just six games remaining on the Big 10 slate; as he tries to overcome the perception that his Hawkeyes can’t win down the stretch. McCaffery has revived Carver-Hawkeye Arena after ascending up the Big Ten ladder and reaching the NCAA tournament last year; but they also found themselves squeaking in after a late season collapse. Expectations are to be firmly in the NCAA tourney this year, and a late collapse will not be good for the 5th year coach. A dominating performance Thursday night against Rutgers rights the ship for now, and a win at Nebraska will greatly increase Iowa’s chances for the Dance.
We’ve been saying it for weeks, but it’s now official; Jarrod Uthoff is the new leader on the floor for the Hawkeyes. This is no knock on Aaron White, he is one of Iowa’s all-time greats; and the Hawks are at a great disadvantage when he is not on the floor. Uthoff has an intangible quality about him that makes him a leader for his squad. Uthoff’s not the most vocal leader, rather silent and deadly. Inconsistency has followed guard Anthony Clemmons during his tenure, but he has been a lightning rod for the Iowa offense; not because of his scoring; but his ability to find others in position to score. His seven assist against Rutgers displayed a keen eye for splitting the defense. Center Adam Woodbury has shaken a little rust off as well, getting himself inside for a few dunks. He’ll need to play with some fire down the stretch and stay motivated to score down low. Week after week, Peter Jok continues to prove himself; justifying his starting role. He shoots the 3-ball with such confidence and can create his own shot as well.
Nebraska is coming off a tough loss on the road at #15 Maryland. A tough loss to take, but losing in the last seconds to a ranked team drives confidence, not doubt. It was the Husker bench that provided the spark, outscoring the Terps bench 36-6. Dubbed “Nebraskaball” after an overachieving 13-14 season, the Huskers are the kind of team that believes they can beat anybody on any given night; regardless of talent. Junior Terran Petteway ranks third in the Big 10 scoring leaders and has been named to the Julius Erving Small Forward of the year watch list. Nebraska prides themselves on playing tight defense, holding its last 14 opponents under 70 points. Iowa likes to get up and down the floor, so if Nebraska can slow things down and set the tempo; the Hawks will be forced to make the most out of each possession.
Nebraska will be hosting over 50 players Sunday for legends night, and will be extra motivated to make it a special one. Iowa has to maintain defensive pressure the entire game and find ways to get easy baskets. If they can find Woodbury and White for a few inside shots, they’ll free up the outside jumpers for Uthoff and Jok. It’s back to basics for this group, box out and rebound; second chance points will kill you. The Hawks have to close out the season on a high note, because as the Hawks know; the dance just isn’t as fun when you’re the last to be invited.
Make sure to arrive early to get a good seat for this matchup! Gametime is at 12:00PM sharp. This week’s gamewatch will be at the Santa Monica location only. 40% off of food and drink during the game will still be honored.
Santa Monica: 1351 3rd St. Promenade, Santa Monica, CA
(Gamewatch host Justin Drake, Isaiah Scales, and Jake Krengel)
We look forward to seeing everyone. GO HAWKS!!!
LA Iowa Board of Directors