Basketball has been very good to Iowa senior forward Zach McCabe.
It made him a star at the high school level.
It’s taken him around the world to places like England and France.
And it’s paid for his college education.
But right now, McCabe’s favorite sport is the cause of much pain and sadness.
That was obvious Saturday as McCabe met with reporters following Iowa’s 79-74 loss to Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. McCabe spoke softly and barely lifted his head while answering questions.
His goal of winning a Big Ten regular-season title suffered a major blow with Saturday’s loss, which lowered Iowa’s record to 19-7 overall and 8-5 in the conference. Iowa was only one game out of first place in the loss column when Saturday’s game started.
“We talked before the game, we were one out,” McCabe said. “We let a huge opportunity get away.”
McCabe did little to help Iowa’s cause Saturday. He replaced an ailing Melsahn Basabe in the starting lineup, but fouled out after being held scoreless and grabbing just two rebounds in 19 minutes.
McCabe also missed an open 3-point shot in the closing seconds that fell about three feet short of the rim.
“It just slipped,” McCabe said. “I was going up and it just slipped off my hands. It was probably as perfect as we’ve run that. It was there. It just slipped out of my hand.”
McCabe still is likely to end his career in the NCAA Tournament, barring a historic meltdown, but the 6-foot-7 forward from Sioux City had bigger plans for his senior season.
He certainly didn’t plan on losing three Big Ten games at home.
He also has failed to score in double figures in each of Iowa’s 13 Big Ten games.
And that’s a shame because McCabe deserves better.
Good luck finding somebody in college basketball who wants to win more than McCabe does.
Good luck finding somebody who hustles more than McCabe does.
And good luck finding somebody who is more respected by his teammates and coaches than McCabe.
I just wish the person who criticized McCabe on Fran McCaffery’s radio show this past week could see how much McCabe was suffering Saturday. Fans have a right to be frustrated with McCabe’s lack of productivity, but to call him out on a radio show seems a bit harsh.
And you knew how McCaffery would respond. He’s not about to let anybody rip his players publicly, especially a senior like McCabe who has poured so much heart, soul and energy into rebuilding the Iowa program.
McCaffery was asked about McCabe’s shot near the end of Saturday’s game that fell woefully short of the basket. McCaffery hadn’t spoken to McCabe at the time, so he wasn’t sure what happened on the shot.
McCaffery was certain about one thing, though.
“I don’t think he’ll make any excuses there or anything,” McCaffery said of McCabe.
McCabe didn’t make excuses, nor did he point fingers or blame the officials.
“Sometimes, it’s not actually Xs and Os,” McCabe said. “It’s your intensity and your energy, and I just don’t think we brought that defensively.
“We had a great crowd that usually gets us going. And for some reason, it didn’t.”
The Hawkeyes had better get going in a hurry with games at Minnesota on Tuesday, Indiana on Thursday and Purdue on March 2 as part of the revamped schedule.
McCabe still has a chance to make his senior season one to remember.
It would help if he and his teammates started making 3-point shots on a more regular basis. Iowa has been held to four or fewer 3-point baskets in each of its five Big Ten losses this season.
McCabe was expected to help from 3-point range, but he’s only made 8-of-31 3-point baskets against Big Ten opponents. He missed both his attempts from 3-point range Saturday, including the air-ball at the end.
“Us seniors, we just have to rally behind our guys and get them together,” McCabe said. “We’ve got a tough week ahead and we just have to keep fighting.”
Sometimes, that’s all you can do is keep fighting. And that’s one area where McCabe doesn’t come up short.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball