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Cartwright due back against Bulldogs

John Bohnenkamp, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa

IOWA CITY – Bryce Cartwright likely will be back on the court for the Iowa basketball team on Saturday when the Hawkeyes play host to Drake.

But coach Fran McCaffery said Cartwright’s status will depend on how he feels in the next couple of days.

“I’ll know better today,” McCaffery said on Thursday. “He practiced (Wednesday), so the real test is how he’ll feel today.”

That said, McCaffery thinks Cartwright will be available to play against the Bulldogs in the 8 p.m. game on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“I would expect Bryce to play, and play well,” McCaffery said.

Cartwright, Iowa’s starting point guard, missed last Tuesday’s game against Northern Iowa and played just six minutes against Iowa State on Friday because of a hamstring injury. McCaffery said Cartwright’s first lengthy workout came on Wednesday.

It’s been a rough start to the season for Cartwright, who suffered a head injury before the Nov. 20 game against Creighton and had his minutes limited for the next two games.

Cartwright is averaging just six points per game, and has scored in double figures only twice this season.

“I definitely think he was struggling for about three weeks (with the head injury),” McCaffery said. “He’ll score, as long as he feels good out there.”

Cartwright suffered his latest injury in the Dec. 3 game against Brown. He was in uniform for the UNI game but couldn’t go. He then tried to play against Iowa State, but it was clear to McCaffery that he was struggling with the injury.

Devyn Marble has started in Cartwright’s place and has played well. McCaffery said there is a possibility when Cartwright is healthy again, he and Marble could be in the starting lineup together. Marble would likely take the place of junior forward Eric May, who has struggled in recent weeks.

“When they were both healthy, they did play well together,” McCaffery said, noting that Marble and Cartwright were in the starting lineup together at the end of last season. “We may choose to start those guys, we may not. We’ll have to see.”

The Hawkeyes have been dealing with numerous injuries, so the break for finals has come at a good time. McCaffery said May was suffering from a “back issue” in the game against Iowa State. Forwards Devon Archie (wrist) and Gabe Olaseni (hip) have also been dealing with nagging injuries.

“We can get through (the minor injuries),” McCaffery said.

The Hawkeyes have taken advantage of the break to get in extra practice time on some of the things that have plagued them in their 5-5 start.

Iowa has especially struggled on defense – opponents are shooting 46.5 percent from the field and have made an average of 7.1 3-pointers per game.

“Perimeter defense, 3-point defense, inside defense, everything,” forward Melsahn Basabe said on Wednesday. “We just have to get better.”

That’s one of the things McCaffery has been emphasizing with Basabe, who has blocked just four shots this season.

“I need him to challenge, I need him to be more aggressive,” McCaffery said. “I’ve challenged him to be more aggressive. He’s not an average shot-blocker, he’s a great shot-blocker. And I need that from him once in a while.”

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