Iowa men’s hoops takes winning streak into Big Ten

Sports

December 28th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — After a month of struggles, Iowa finally got rolling with three straight wins to end non-conference play. Those victories won’t mean much if the Hawkeyes don’t get off to a good start in the Big Ten — arguably the nation’s toughest league yet again. Iowa (8-5) opens league play tonight (Wednesday), at home against Purdue (10-3). The Hawkeyes and Penn State are the only two Big Ten teams with more than three losses, and Iowa wasn’t all that competitive in losses to Creighton, Clemson, Northern Iowa and Iowa State. Now the Hawkeyes face 18 straight games in a league ranked No. 1 in RPI. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says  “It’s important that we come into the game with the right mindset, follow the game plan and play well.”  He says “We can’t have mistake-(filled) stretches, long periods of missed shots, the inability to stop (Purdue) when we need a stop when we need a stop or two or three in a row. That’s what you have to be able to do to win consistently.”

There are at least two reasons why the Hawkeyes can hope this year will be better than last year, when they won just four Big Ten games and finished in 10th place. Sophomore Devyn Marble is emerging as a potential impact player, and forward Melsahn Basabe has improved after an atrocious start. After struggling to beat teams it was supposed to defeat, the Hawkeyes have cobbled together a winning streak and the confidence that comes with success. That could all change if they can’t continue to show improvement. McCaffery said “It’s one tough game after another, and all we’re trying to do is prepare for the next opponent and play well. And then if we play well, then try to continue to get better.”