IOWA CITY — Two devastating defeats within three days of one another has Iowa players and coaches looking for answers and evaluating every aspect of the men’s basketball program.
Iowa dropped to 3-2 overall after a 77-61 home loss to Campbell on Wednesday. The Hawkeyes were beaten in nearly every area, from the post at both ends to the perimeter. Intangibles like toughness, chemistry, competing — among the core components of team sports — were brought into question afterward.
“You know, what you do is you’ve got to be careful,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “Did I get on them a little bit? Yeah. Did I go completely insane? No.
“They know they are not playing well. And I think the last thing as a coach, that you want to do, is blame. You know, it’s — when you’re in the locker room or we’re having a discussion like we just had — it’s us. It’s we. We are not doing. It’s not you’re not doing. Because I cannot sit here and not take blame for how we played the last two games. It is not just them, OK. There’s something we are not doing. There’s something we are not communicating to them.”
Sophomore forward Melsahn Basabe continued his downward trend, scoring just two points on 1-of-5 shooting. He grabbed three rebounds, all on offense, in 19 minutes. He offered no excuses for his performance, but hinted that his effort needs to become better.
“Everything went wrong today,” Basabe said. “I don’t mean to be short with you guys, but that game was so self-explanatory that there’s nothing I can tell you that you wouldn’t already know.
“Just to be honest as I’m talking to you and to you guys, do you want to compete or not? Do you want to win or lose the game? That’s it.”
Basabe now has combined for four points and five rebounds in the last two games. He averaged 11 points and 6.8 rebounds a game last year and was a member of the Big Ten’s all-freshman team. McCaffery suggested the extra weight Basabe gained in the offseason has become a hindrance, something Basabe declined to acknowledge.
“Obviously Melsahn is struggling,” McCaffery said. “We are trying to get him going. We are doing a lot of things with him. We are trying to peel some weight off him. We tried to put weight on him and now we are trying to get it off him. He looks lethargic to me. I thought early he was trying.”
Campbell (5-0) outrebounded Iowa 34-29 and blocked 10 Iowa shots. The Camels shot 62.2 percent from the field and held Iowa’s five primary post players to a combined 16 points.
Iowa center Devon Archie once again was sluggish at both ends of the court. He played nine minutes in the first half, had two points and three turnovers. He did not take the court in the second half.
Freshman Aaron White played only two minutes in the second half and was 1-of-7 from the field. He had his shot blocked four times.
The Hawkeyes did little to challenge Campbell center Eric Griffin, who sank 10-of-11 shots for 23 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked six shots. To McCaffery it was a lack of toughness in all areas of the game.
“Toughness in general,” McCaffery said. “I don’t know about toughness around the boards — yeah, around the boards — but in the perimeter, in the press. We are not … get up to the ball, over toward the ball; don’t chase away. All of the things that we worked on, we are just not showing any toughness at all.”
Iowa lost its swagger Sunday in a 23-point loss to Creighton in Des Moines. The team has struggled to piece together its confidence in the aftermath, and Wednesday’s performance has sent the team reeling.
“It’s tough to put into words,” said Iowa senior Matt Gatens, who scored a team-high 17 points. “It’s tough and disappointing. I don’t really know what exactly is causing it, but it’s disappointing and alarming. Hopefully we can band together, and I believe we will and we need to.”
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