Hawkeyes once again embracing underdog mentality

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Iowa Hawkeyes forward Keegan Murray (15) during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Slippery Rock University in Iowa City, IA on Friday, November 5, 2021. (Shivansh Ahuja/hawkeyesports.com)

 

When the Iowa men’s basketball team came in at No. 5 in last season’s preseason AP poll, it was well-deserved, but a position they were not accustomed to.

“I don’t think any year I’ve been here we’ve been picked particularly high other than last year,” senior guard Connor McCaffery said. “Even coming into my sophomore year, my freshman year, we weren’t picked very high in the league. Maybe sixth, seventh.”

Fast forward a year, and they’re right back to being the underdogs. In this season’s preseason media poll, the Hawkeyes were picked to finished ninth in the Big Ten. It has a lot to do with the turnover from last year’s roster.

“We have something to prove,” sophomore forward Kris Murray said. “We have a different team but we have the same expectations. We’re going to hold each other to that. We might have new leaders but we’re all ready and we’re all hungry.”

If you ask them though, it’s a place they feel comfortable. Even last year, when they were the big dogs of the Big Ten, the underdog mentality still drove them.

“That mentality shaped last year,” senior guard Jordan Bohannon said last year.

That’s because the Iowa basketball program is built on guys who were overlooked. If you go back and look at Iowa’s roster in their high school days, you won’t find many stars next to their name, and you won’t see many of them on any national rankings.

“I feel like our whole lives most people on the team as you said were not highly recruited,” sophomore guard Ahron Ulis said. “We’re just looked at like an underdog. I like that especially going into the season. We’re just going to go out there play hard, compete, play together, and just come out with a W.”

It’s just another basketball fall in Iowa City. For them, it’s not the number (or lack of) next to their name in week one that matters; it’s the one in March.

“I think that it’s going to be just us just like any other year,” McCaffery said. “Continuing to battle, prove people wrong.”

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