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Harty: Hawkeyes trying to take top 10 ranking in stride

[ 0 ] January 21, 2014 |

By Pat Harty

Besides the 21-point victory, probably the best thing to come out of Sunday’s game against Minnesota was how the Iowa basketball players responded to it.

The media were more excited about the possibility of Iowa being ranked in the top-10 nationally for the first time in more than a decade than the players. A pattern developed during the post-game interviews where a reporter would ask a player about the likelihood of being ranked in the top 10 and the player would respond by saying it wasn’t that big of a deal.

“It’s a sense of accomplishment, but at the same time, I want to be ranked at the end of the year and not in January,” junior forward Aaron White said.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said he’d be happy for his players if the Hawkeyes cracked the top 10 — which happened Monday with a No. 10 ranking in The Associated Press poll — but he couldn’t care less.

Iowa cracking the top 10 for the first time since 2002 is a feel-good story. The Iowa program was a mess when McCaffery took over in 2010, but now is ranked among the nation’s elite.

That is cause for celebration in the eyes of fans and the media, but the players and coaches seem more concerned about the journey, which continues Wednesday night at Michigan. There is no time for the players to pat themselves on the back while facing the weekly grind of a Big Ten schedule.

Lose to Michigan and Iowa likely will say adios to its top-10 ranking after just a week.

McCaffery, much like Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, is a master at living in the moment. Neither gets too high after a signature win or too low after a costly defeat.

That’s the best way to deal with the never-ending drama that unfolds throughout the course of a four-month season. Iowa is poised for a special season, but only if the players keep the pedal on the gas and keep things in perspective.

The fans and the media have been starving for this warm-and-fuzzy story, and it’s hard to conceal the excitement. The Iowa men’s basketball program is relevant again on the national stage, but the players hardly are satisfied with just being relevant, and that’s how it should be.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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