INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Note to Bankers Life Fieldhouse personnel: make sure the chairs on the Iowa bench are chained together Friday, when Iowa and Michigan State meet in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
On Jan. 10, his team getting punked by Michigan State, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery smashed a chair into the floor in an attempt to get them to play hard. Final score: Michigan State 95, Iowa 61. The second-half chair smash went viral, and McCaffery received a scolding from Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany.
The rematch comes at 11 a.m. Friday. Asked if the team owed the chairs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse a favor, Iowa’s Devyn Marble just chuckled.
“I mean…I think when we prepare, one of the big keys will be rebounding,” Marble said, deflecting the question with the passing touch of a point guard. “Draymond (Green) is an animal on the glass. It will be a challenge, but we’re going to try and do it.”
Green, the Big Ten’s player of the year, had 22 points and 10 rebounds against Iowa the first time. He needed just 29 minutes on the floor to secure one of his 43 career double-doubles.
“We came out flat,” Marble said. “We didn’t have too much intensity and fight in us, and it showed in that game.”
Michigan State shot 61.7 percent from the floor in that first meeting. But it was the Spartans’ physical dominance that sticks in McCaffery’s mind.
“They shot the lights out, but the other thing they did was they beat us up,” McCaffery said. “They really took us out of what we wanted to do. So it was a combination of both. It was an incredibly concentrated effort at both ends of the floor. That’s why it was a 30-point game.”
Michigan State clinched a share of the regular-season Big Ten title with two games remaining, then ended up in a three-way tie with Ohio State and Michigan. The Spartans also lost talented freshman Branden Dawson to a torn ACL in the regular-season finale, a home loss to Ohio State.
Iowa’s 64-61 victory against Illinois Thursday ended a streak of five straight one-and-done appearances for the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Tournament. Matt Gatens, who used to get excused from school to attend this tournament with his parents, finally got a postseason victory.
“I didn’t want to leave here without getting a win,” Gatens said. “I used to come here and watch Iowa teams have success. It’s fun to finally win one.”
The Spartans represent a much bigger challenge.
“It will start with taking care of the ball, and being the aggressor,” Gatens said. “Don’t let the game get out of hand. Be the first one with the punch. I feel confident we can do that. We’ve got to let them know it’s not going to be easy like it was over there.”
Gatens’ improvement on the defensive end this season has been one the brightest spots in a 17-15 season. And it’s a reason why he’s been invited to the Portsmouth Invitational, a pre-draft NBA camp this April in Portsmouth, Va. McCaffery was surprised that Gatens didn’t make the Big Ten’s all-defensive team in a ballot of league coaches.
On Thursday, Gatens covered Brandon Paul like a glove. Paul finished with just four points on two-of-11 shooting from the field.
“You know what, I could come up with a number of different superlatives, but it’s the same effort every night,” McCaffery said of Gatens and the defensive effort he had against Paul, who scored 43 against in a victory against Ohio State earlier this season. “That’s why I thought he deserved to be on the team. Now I don’t want to get too sideways about it because it’s disrespectful to the guys who made it because the reality is they’re all terrific defenders. But I think he’s the best.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball