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Fran McCaffery considering a shift to Iowa’s starting lineup

Scott Dochterman, CR Gazette –

IOWA CITY — Iowa has employed the same starting lineup for the last 10 games but that could change Saturday against No. 13 Michigan.

Tuesday at Michigan State, Iowa opened with Devyn Marble, Matt Gatens and Eric May in the back court, and Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe in the post. To start the second half, Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery shifted to Marble, Gatens and Bryce Cartwright at guard with Basabe and Aaron White at forward.

McCaffery said Thursday afternoon he was considering changes.

“Still haven’t decided that,” he said. “There is a good likelihood there will be a change, but I haven’t discussed it with any of our players yet. So before I would say anything to anybody else, I also haven’t definitively decided if we’re going to do it, but I’ll tell everybody first.”

McCaffery nearly altered his lineup after a 16-point loss to Clemson in November. He ultimately stuck with his starters until Cartwright went down with a hamstring injury on Dec. 3 against Brown. Marble took over for Cartwright and has started 10 straight games.

McCaffery said the players’ recent performances will decide who starts against Michigan. Iowa (10-8, 2-3 Big Ten) has lost its last two games by a combined 63 points to No. 5 Ohio State and No. 6 Michigan State.

“What team I think has the best chance to win,” he said. “Nothing more than that.”

Whatever lineup McCaffery employs likely will result in similar minutes for most players anyway. Only two players — Gatens and Marble — average more than 23 minutes a game. Basabe, Cartwright, May, McCabe, White and Josh Oglesby all play between 22.6 and 17.2 a game.

Cartwright, who also suffered from illness and concussions early in the season, said Thursday he’ll play whatever role McCaffery wants from him. He’s a senior tri-captain, along with Gatens and May, and Cartwright led the Big Ten in assists during league play last year.

“You just have to be ready for whatever role is given to you as a team whatever’s best for the team,” he said. “Starting is not a big deal to me but as long as you’re playing, you have to be ready.”

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