McCaffery in Moment

Wisconsin and Nebraska pulling off upsets in Michigan on Sunday pushed Iowa to win 1.5 games of first place in the Big Ten. The news excited Hawkeye fans but Coach Fran McCaffery said it hasn't changed the approach for he and his team.

McCaffery B1G Teleconference:

Crean B1G Teleconference:

Hawkeyes Season Statistics

Hoosiers Season Statistics

Iowa's move in the Big Ten standings on Sunday excited the fans. It didn't register with Coach Fran McCaffery.

The nature of how the Hawkeyes drew within 1.5 games of first place justified McCaffery's approach. First-place Michigan and Michigan State lost as home favorites Sunday to Wisconsin and Nebraska, respectively.

"Truthfully, I didn't give it much thought," McCaffery said. "If ever there was a time to really just focus on the next game, which we tend to say all of the time, it's this year in this league. You can't look down the road. You can't look at the standings. You've got to look at your next opponent."

Iowa's next foe serves as a great example of the unpredictable nature of the Big Ten. Indiana owns home wins against ranked opponents, Wisconsin and Michigan, but have fallen in Bloomington to Northwestern and Penn State, teams currently ninth and 11th, respectively, in the league standings. The Hoosiers play host to the Hawkeyes Tuesday (8 p.m. CT, ESPN).

"To me, it's not surprising," McCaffery said of Big Ten parity. "It's what makes our league unique. Every other league has bad teams. We don't have any bad teams.

"So, what you're going to see is exactly what you're seeing. At the end of this thing, somebody is going to win the league. I don't know who that is right now because every night you have to bring your A Game. You cannot bring your B Game no matter who you are in this league and expect to win. You're probably going to get embarrassed. It's that simple. And that's the challenge for all of us moving forward. Can we be mentally ready, physically ready and have the correct amount of toughness to win, especially on the road?"

The Hoosiers (14-11, 4-8 Big Ten) are 12-3 at home. After Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were selected among the first four picks of June's NBA Draft, Indiana is starting three freshmen and a sophomore.

"Little by little, you're seeing these young guys that Tom (Crean) has develop," McCaffery said. "They're able to do that because they know they have one of the best players (Yogi Ferrell) in the country with the ball."

Ferrell, a sophomore, dished off to experienced teammates on last year's Big Ten champion Indiana team. Through Sunday, he was leading the Big Ten in scoring (17.9 PPG). The Indianapolis native dropped 27 points (7 of 8 from three) in 37 minutes in the Michigan win.

Noah Vonleh has captured league freshman of the week honors six times this season. The 6-foot-10 forward from Massachusetts finished the weekend leading the conference in rebounding (9.5 per game) by an average of more than two boards a contest. He was netting 11.6 points per outing.

The Hoosiers' youth manifests itself in mistakes. They're averaging 15.6 turnovers a game.

"We're certainly younger than any team in the league and at times we play that way," Crean said. "What happens is when you're young and you don't have the experience, you don't have the consistency. What we have is a consistency in work habits and work ethic, which is part of the process, but we don't have that consistency of what it takes, physically and mentally, to win the games."

Iowa starts two seniors and a junior. The Hawkeyes employ three other upperclassmen in their rotation.

"We're preparing for a very, very good Iowa team, one that is extremely versatile, not just because of the depth and the consistency of that depth, but because of the multitude of the skills that they have," Crean said. "They combine some of the best traits when it comes to passing, driving, inside-out shooting, spacing, pressure defense. They're able to switch and do multiple things on defense. They're very, very hard to get ready for and that's why they're so successful."

The 15th-ranked Hawkeyes (19-6, 8-4) have only lost to ranked opponents this season. They've not dropped back-to-back games and have won four of six Big Ten road games.

"Fran is not only one of the top coaches in our league but, frankly, I think he's one of the best coaches in the country," Crean said. "He does such a great job of going from game to game doing whatever it takes to win that game. He has a lot of things in the game plan that he can go to and at the same time they have their constants; they have their principles. You can see with them being as old and as experienced as any team in this league that they're playing that way."

That maturity could be tested again Tuesday. The Hawkeyes head into Assembly Hall having lost five of their last seven game there. The environment is likely to be hostile in the basketball crazy state.

"I think there's an understanding (from the Iowa players) on what it takes to go on the road in this league and compete," McCaffery said.


Hawkeye Insider Top Stories