IOWA CITY, Ia. — Aaron White called a players-only meeting with his Iowa basketball teammates after practice Monday afternoon. His message: Remain calm, all is well.
“Don’t jump to any conclusions, or don’t think the world is ending, because of a little losing streak,” the sophomore forward told his teammates.
Iowa is 0-2 in the Big Ten and 11-4 overall after losses in its last two games, a 69-65 home defeat against No. 5 Indiana and a 95-67 loss at No. 2 Michigan on Sunday. The Hawkeyes host No. 22 Michigan State Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It’s a long season, with a lot of winnable games left,” White said Tuesday. “This conference is tough. We’re learning that early. I just wanted to get them together and keep everyone focused. We’ve got to keep playing for one another, and having fun with the game.”
Earlier Monday, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery got his team together for a video session to break down the Michigan game. The meetings usually last 20 to 30 minutes. Monday’s took twice as long. In a normal breakdown session, McCaffery offers a mix or properly executed plays and others that didn’t go as planned. On Monday, there was much more bad than good.
“It was pretty tough watching it,” freshman point guard Anthony Clemmons said.
ery didn’t rant and rave at his team.
“Rant a little bit, but not too much,” McCaffery said.
The last 64 seconds Sunday were especially tough for McCaffery to watch. Michigan ended the half on an 8-0 run, including two fast-break layups when Iowa failed to get back on defense. For the game, the Wolverines outscored Iowa in fast-break points, 16-0.
“They’ve got to look at it and justify to themselves and their teammates what they didn’t do,” McCaffery said. “I will never get on a guy for not doing something that he maybe isn’t capable of doing. But you can run back on defense. If you’re on a Division I scholarship, you better run back on defense, and we didn’t do that. That’s really disappointing.”
McCaffery, who has never been one to blame his players, singled out leading scorers Devyn Marble and White. The coach said that if lack of toughness becomes an issue again, he’d consider changing his starting lineup.
“Let’s say, for example, the two biggest culprits are your two leading scorers, which is arguably what the case was in our last game,” McCaffery said. “That’s a dilemma. When Marble and White are struggling defensively, we still have to score. That’s our two leading scorers. That makes that decision a lot more complicated, quite frankly. But it may come to that. “
White, who finished with just six points and two rebounds at Michigan, said that McCaffery’s criticism was deserved.
“Obviously he looks to me and Devyn, and uses us as examples,” White said. “I’m fine with that.”
WHO: No. 22 Michigan State (12-3, 1-1 Big Ten) at Iowa (11-4, 0-2 Big Ten)
TIME/TV: 6 p.m., ESPN2
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball