Scott Dochterman, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –
IOWA CITY — Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery’s approach following a loss is similar to his approach after a victory.
McCaffery said Monday he analyzes the previous game regardless of the outcome. For Iowa that includes Saturday’s 29-point home loss to Ohio State, and the previous Saturday’s seven-point road win against Wisconsin.
“I look at it like this: what if we would have won that game on Saturday?” McCaffery said. “It would have been a huge win, a huge crowd, and then everybody would have been on cloud nine. Two road wins, beat Ohio State. OK, what do we have to do now?”
But McCaffery also recognizes his team didn’t beat Ohio State and played poorly overall. Plus, the Hawkeyes (10-7, 2-2) travel to No. 10 Michigan State (14-2, 3-0), a location where Iowa hasn’t won since 1993. McCaffery said his emphasis after Saturday’s loss was about correcting the mistakes and moving quickly in preparation for Michigan State.
“That was as low as we have been in terms of our performance,” McCaffery said. “We had a couple of other ones this year that were not good. You have continue to teach. You have to continue to grow. You have to continue to better. It’s my and my coaching staff’s responsibility to break that film down and teach. Not blame; they’re two different things. At the same time if there’s a player that’s playing well below from an effort standpoint, then that needs to be addressed in a very direct way. If a player has a bad game but he’s given me everything in his tank, well now we just focus on, ‘What could have we done differently that might have helped him?’
“Regardless of whether we would have won that game by 20 or lost that game by 25, I would approach it exactly the same way, breaking it down collectively, break it down individually, make teaching points, address effort and concentration and hopefully we’ll be better prepared to go on the road and play Michigan State.”
Iowa historically has struggled at Breslin Center, losing its last 16. In that span Michigan State has won 10 of the last 12 against Iowa by double digits and no game was closer than seven points. Over those 12 games, the average margin of defeat for Iowa is 18.25 points.
But those statistics fail to resonate with Iowa sophomore Devyn Marble, who was four months old when the Hawkeyes last won in East Lansing. In Marble’s era, Iowa beat Michigan State by 20 at home, lost at Michigan State by 19 and lost to the Spartans by five in the Big Ten Tournament.
“That’s the past,” Marble said. “We’ve got a game coming up. We’ll be ready. Hopefully we end that streak.”
Ending that streak is part of the challenge for Iowa, senior Matt Gatens said. Few arenas boast the Breslin Center atmosphere with students circling the court in an area called the Izzone.
“Students are right there so for some guys that might bother them,” Gatens said. “It seems like they play really well there as a team. They shoot it well there. It’s no different than Wisconsin. It’s an environment we need to step up to the challenge and enjoy it. Enjoy the fans, enjoy the atmosphere and have fun with it and try to get another W.”