IOWA CITY — Like it or not, the Iowa men’s basketball season is now on autopilot.
The players and coaches know the team is far from adapting Coach Fran McCaffery’s system into a consistent winning formula. But the Hawkeyes (0-1) don’t have time to correct their mistakes in practice, and that’s distressing to McCaffery. After losing 79-69 to South Dakota State on Sunday, Iowa plays Louisiana-Monroe at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Then the Hawkeyes travel to the Paradise Jam Classic at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands for three games concluding on Monday.
The Hawkeyes will have to grow more from game action than from practice.
“I would rather have more practice,” McCaffery said. “We need as much time together as we possibly can have just to get comfortable with what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, why we’re doing it, and who’s doing it, what combination … We’ll still take advantage of the time.”
Like most players, Iowa sophomore forward Eric May had a different view from his coach about extra practice to correct the mistakes.
“I think it’s a good thing we’re playing soon,” May said. “We know we’re going to watch film on what we did wrong. It wasn’t us not being prepared; it was just rushed. That first half, that one segment where we were just rushing and turned the ball over, that’s something you can’t really teach in practice. You just have to have composure.
“Everything is different in a game. I think in practice you go through them enough but in games we’ve got the atmosphere and stuff and people are just kind of getting rattled. Right away there’s jitters or whatnot, people are kind of getting overwhelmed. That’s something we’re going to be able to get over and really be able to focus.”
Iowa struggled at both ends of the court against the Jackrabbits. Offensively, turnovers killed Iowa in the first half. The Hawkeyes failed to score on their final eight first-half possessions, six of which ended with turnovers. Iowa finished with 18 turnovers, including 14 in the first half.
While Iowa outrebounded the Jackrabbits, the up-tempo offense stalled. South Dakota State outscored the Hawkeyes 13-2 in fast-break points.
“We didn’t get as much out of our transition game as I would have hoped,” McCaffery said. “We were pushing it. But we didn’t have any easy baskets like I would have liked. But we’ve got to learn and get better. Some of our young players got some experience.”
South Dakota State drilled 10 3-pointers in the first 31 minutes. When the Hawkeyes did a better job of defending the perimeter, South Dakota State’s shooters adjusted and went to mid-range shots. By the end of the game the Jackrabbits were able to drive to the basket for layups or hit their foul shots.
Iowa, however, missed 6-of-14 free throws in the final 10:22. The Hawkeyes scored on 14 of their final 22 possessions, just one less than the Jackrabbits. But South Dakota State’s possessions were more productive, outscoring Iowa 32-20 over than span.
NOTES: Junior guard Matt Gatens expects to miss his second straight game after tearing a tendon in his left hand last month. … Mediacom will air the game on TV, while it will stream on www.bigtennetwork.com. … Iowa is 3-1 all-time against Louisiana-Monroe but lost to the Warhawks in 2007.
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