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Iowa to play Indiana State in first round of NIT Tournament (VIDEO)

Fran McCaffery, Iowa head basketball coach
Fran McCaffery, Iowa head basketball coach

IOWA CITY – The Iowa Hawkeyes men’s basketball team was selected to play in this year’s NIT Basketball Tournament and is a #3 seed. The Hawkeeys will be playing Indiana State on Wednesday in Carver Hawkeye Arena.

Coach Fran McCaffery held a teleconference on Sunday:

Reaction to being selected to the NIT and facing Indiana State

We’re thrilled with the opportunity to play in a phenomenal field in the NIT and host a first round game. It’s an exciting opportunity for our fans and we have tremendous respect for Indiana State. You look at some of the incredibly impressive wins that they had and they’ve got some really good players. We have great respect for Greg Lansing and the job he has done there (at Indiana State) and throughout his career. We know what’s in store for us.

On how the team reacted to Selection Sunday

The team reacted incredibly well (to not being selected for the NCAA Tournament). We are excited to be playing in the NIT and we are getting ready to move forward and handle that challenge.

Reaction to being a No. 3 seed in the bracket

You always hope you are little higher but you never know. Those rooms are difficult in so many different ways. I just look at ‘are we in or not?’ I’m just happy we’re in.

On being one of the last teams out of the NCAA bracket, yet being a No. 3 seed in the NIT bracket

I didn’t even know that until you just said it. In light of that, yeah I guess. But I haven’t really thought about it to be honest with you.

On his thought process during the day

I really wasn’t thinking about it one way or the other. I don’t obsess about things I don’t have control over. At this point in time, your fate is in the hands of two different committees. I don’t really think about it that way.

On the topic of Carver-Hawkeye Arena conflicts playing a factor to potentially playing on the road in the second round.

We could have played the whole thing at home.

Update on freshman guard Mike Gesell

We haven’t done anything since the game so it’s hard to say. We will see how he does tomorrow. We are going to get ready for practice and obviously see what he can do.

On what a postseason berth can do for a young team

It gives you an opportunity to play in a national tournament against great opponents. It’s a phenomenal experience in so many different ways. Everyone’s hope is that they can play more than one game and recognize that it’s hard to get in and it’s going to be difficult to advance because of the quality of opponents that we are going to play. It’s an opportunity to keep playing when a lot of other teams aren’t.

On having an extra day this year to prepare for the first round game on Wednesday

I don’t think it matters that much. It doesn’t give us or them an advantage one way or the other.

On young players being motivated for the NIT

They’ll be fired up without question.

On how the postseason experience will help for next season

I just hope that we continue to work hard, prepare, remain unselfish and continue to support each other and continue to get better. We’ve had a tremendous season, so far, and we want that to continue and feel really good about where we are and where we’re headed.

On the atmosphere of last year’s NIT game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Our fans were unbelievable that day. We sold 13,000 tickets in 12 hours; hopefully we will do the same this year. We need our fans to do that again for us because our student body is on spring break. We’re relying on our fan base to create the kind of atmosphere we hope to see on Wednesday night.

On how the team has improved from last year

We’ve improved in a lot of different ways. Number one, we focus better on the defensive end of the floor and have been much more effective. Not where we need to be yet, but we are getting closer. We’ve rebounded better, I think we have been tougher and obviously we are deeper. We are getting really good play out of so many different people at different positions, and that makes us harder to prepare for. I think we are developing a more confident group that feels like we can go on the road and win games. They feel like they can protect their home court with our phenomenal fan base. You just want to see that continue to improve and get better every year.

Video from Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery and selected Hawkeye players below on being selected to the NIT:

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