The University of Iowa released the men’s basketball non-conference schedule Tuesday. It’s not exactly the high hurdles.
First-year coach Fran McCaffery faces just one road game outside of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. That’s at Drake on Dec. 18.
The Hawkeyes play host to Sweet 16 Northern Iowa on Dec. 7 (Tuesday) and first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg and Iowa State on Dec. 10 (Friday).
Iowa’s non-conference opponents also include South Dakota State (Summit League), Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt), Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (Ohio Valley), Idaho State (Big Sky) and Louisiana Tech (Western Athletic Conference).
Iowa plays in the Paradise Jam Nov. 19-22. The Hawkeyes travel to Wake Forest on No. 30 for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
McCaffery said Tuesday the concentration in his first few months has been on the roster, hiring a coaching staff and maximizing recruiting.
“The perception was we spent a lot of time trying to sign (high school) seniors,” he said. “We signed Melsahn Basabe and we’re working on another prospect, but it was more important, I think, to get involved with the junior and sophomore classes, especially in state.”
Iowa reportedly is interested in signing point guard Bryce Cartwright, who originally signed with Fresno State before playing last season at Paris (Texas) Community College. Cartwright, however, still needs to pass classes and nothing is official, as evidenced by McCaffery not mentioning Cartwright’s name.
After consulting with athletics director Gary Barta, McCaffery wanted to be deliberate while hiring a staff, which includes Andrew Francis, Kirk Speraw (a former Hawkeye player and grad assistant) and Sherman Dillard. He also hired former Hawkeye Ryan Bowen as video coordinator.
“The experience I have on this staff is unprecedented in my career,” McCaffery said. “Two former Division I head coaches (Speraw and Dillard) . . . Andrew Francis has had six straight years of going to the NCAA tournament.
“Of course, Ryan Bowen came incredibly highly recommended.”
He said he’s liked what he’s seen with Iowa’s current players.
“They’re committed to getting better, in the weightroom, on the court and in the classroom,” McCaffery said. “That’ll be helpful moving forward. When we bring prospects on campus, it’s important how they interact with our present players and how they sell what we do.”
McCaffery’s era begins with an exhibition game against University of Illinois-Springfield on Nov. 7 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which, according to Barta, is about 40 percent finished with renovation.
Nov. 7 — University of Illinois-Springfield (exhibition)
Nov. 14 — South Dakota State
Nov. 16 — Louisiana-Monroe
Nov. 19-22 — Paradise Jam, U.S. Virgin Islands
Nov. 26 — Southern Illinois-Edwardsville
Nov. 30 — at Wake Forest (ACC-Big Ten Challenge)
Dec. 4 — Idaho State
Dec. 7 — Northern Iowa
Dec. 10 — Iowa State
Dec. 18 — at Drake
Dec. 21 — Louisiana Tech
Dec. 27-31 — Big Ten opener TBD