A tough road loss. A thin bench. A ranked opponent. Iowa had every reason to fold against Maryland.
Instead, the short-handed Hawks put their season back on track with a blowout win.
“The maturity that we showed in preparation for this game, coming back, is really what’s impressive,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “The guys that come in have to be doing what they’re capable of doing and compete and play mistake free basketball. Everybody that played was really good.”
Eight players saw the floor on Friday. Senior forward Cordell Pemsl says the adversity is galvanizing the healthy Hawks.
“We’ve done a good job adapting to understand, you know what guys, this is the eight, nine guys that we have,” Pemsl said. “We know what each individual can do.”
Ryan Kriener is a good example of that adaptation. He’s playing about 10 minutes more per game since the calendar flipped to 2020.
“He’s a guy that is really, really smart,” McCaffery said. “You put him out there with Connor and Luka and some guys that really know what they’re doing, at least we can execute.”
A crisp offense will keep them competitive.
The relentless defense and rebounding that was on display against Maryland will keep them in the ncaa tournament discussion into March.
“Playing hard and playing with intensity and effort, that’s not a talent,” Pemsl said. “That’s something that’s a mental thing, whether you can do it night-in and night-out. As long as we’re doing that, I feel like we have a good shot.”
Joe Wieskamp and Luka Garza combined for 47 of the Hawks’ 67 points in the win. That could be the offensive formula for success, depending on the long-term status of C.J. Fredrick. He’s missed the last two-and-a-half games with a foot injury.
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