Iowa heads to Evanston, IL Saturday hoping to avoid a trap. That's sports vernacular for a game a team is expected to win but is surrounded by other contests theoretically designed to distract it from the task at hand.
Add into those scenarios that Iowa dismantled Northwestern, 93-67, two weeks ago in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and one might wonder if the Hawkeyes could get caught sleeping on the Wildcats on Saturday.
"It's the next game on the schedule and we'll play them all the same way," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Friday morning on his teleconference. "In light of the fact that they've won three out of the last four, I mean, Northwestern's got everybody in this league's attention."
The Hawkeyes (15-4 overall, 4-2 Big Ten) led Northwestern by 15 at halftime of their Jan. 9 game and never looked back. The Wildcats (10-10, 3-4) shot 5 of 24 from three-point land and 16 of 25 from the foul line.
"It was a combination of things," McCaffery said. "We played well. They didn't shoot it well. I think they're a better shooting team and they've been a better shooting team.
"Sometimes you go on the road and you have a little bit of an off night."
Starting point guard Dave Sobolewski is expected back Saturday for Northwestern after missing the last two games with concussion symptoms.
"It will be interesting to see how they use him," McCaffery said. "They went with (JerShon) Cobb at the point and (Kale) Abrahamson to build a bigger lineup. Will Chris (Collins) keep that same starting lineup or will he go back to Sobolewski? Either way, he's going to play him a lot. It gives them another handle. It gives them another experienced player. It gives them another tough defender. So, we'll see."
McCaffery is hoping to receive more productivity from his bench in Evanston than he got in Ann Arbor. The reserves recorded eight points in the Michigan loss after producing 43 three days earlier in a win against Minnesota.
"I was a little surprised that we were a little bit tentative at times," McCaffery said. "I don't want them to be tentative. I have total confidence in those guys. I want them to shoot the ball. I want them to work the offense. I want them to run transition and do the things we've typically done.
"The offense seemed to move really slow. The ball wasn't moving out of people's hands. We weren't screening and cutting the way that we should. We weren't running the way we should on a make or a miss. That will have to change and I'm sure it will."
Inclement weather kept Iowa in Michigan after Wednesday's game. McCaffery said it didn't disrupt his players. They flew back Thursday morning and practiced as usual.
"I really don't think it will have any impact at all," McCaffery said.
You can listen to McCaffery's teleconference linked below. He talks more about the Wildcats, the role of hunted instead of hunter, Adam Woodbury and more: