Todd Lickliter Pre-Wake Forest Presser

The Iowa Hawkeyes will play under the national spotlight on Monday as they host Wake Forest in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Iowa is coming off an 0-2 trip to South Padre where it lost to Bradley and Utah State. Coach Lickliter talks about his team's mindset, health and more...

Q: Is Cyrus Tate going to play tomorrow?

Todd Lickliter: I haven't seen him yet today. We are coming in this evening, but all indications were that he would be ready to go. Now, unless something has happened that I am unaware of, but I think I would be aware.

Q: What can you tell us about what looks to be a balanced Wake Forest team?

Lickliter: We are still evaluating them. We know how good they are. The staff has been working on it this morning. Believe me, we understand what they put together and what a task its going to be. They are very balanced and we will have to see how it goes.

Q: What did you learn in South Padre?

Lickliter: It was interesting, because I thought the first night they offered us an aggressive, physical game, a lot of extended defensive pressure. At times we didn't handle it so well, but we responded decent in the second half and made a run at them. We weren't able to complete it and to get ahead. Bradley is a nice team, well coached. The next night was different in that they presented some tough schemes. A variety of actions and I didn't think we responded as well to those. I think that is a lot on me in preparation for that game. Not just that game, but the game in general. We realize that there are some concepts in the game that we are not sure that we have been completely introduced to and we need to make sure those are grasped as we implement our system. I thought the tests were pretty tough, fairly revealing and gives us something to come back and commit to working on.

Q: How is Jeff mentally dealing with having a big role on the team and having the bad hand?

Lickliter: He doesn't ever complain, he is not a guy that voices concerns. He continues to focus on the task at hand and he has done a good job. But I am sure that it's frustrating. Everyone would be better with two hands. He is really hampered, but it's never been something he has used as an excuse.

Q: Describe the overall psyche or mental aspect of the team right now, are they shaken a bit?

Lickliter: Yeah, I think they were disappointed, not despondent, but disappointed. They are guys who care. We had two different tests, and we were not quite ready for either one of them at this point. That does not mean that we won't, it gives us something to strive for. It's not like it was all negative. Both of those games, I thought they controlled, the other team, but we wouldn't allow them to discourage us. We continued to battle and strive to compete with them. We just need to be more efficient.

Q: How do you feel about the team's defense at this point?

Lickliter: There are some basic concepts that for whatever reason, the guys haven't totally grasped. We need to make sure that we get those across, because they greatly inhibit your ability to compete. We are out of position at times, or our decision making sometimes…we prioritize a secondary action, or we don't prioritize appropriately. We have to work on that, we have to be able to be in the game and engage all of the time. But I do think there are things we are doing well. I just wish we could do it more consistently.

Q: Does it make any difference to you that this game is on ESPN to a national audience?

Lickliter: I don't think so in that there is a challenge in front of you. The challenge is for us to continue to strive to play better Hawkeye basketball. But you also know the competition is tough. I think that is one of the things that we sometimes neglect to think about in sport, is that some of these sports, there is someone trying to stop you from doing what you want to do. They are well prepared too and skilled. I know that seems so basic, but I think that sometimes from the outside looking in, when you are not a participant like me, we forget that OK, we can have some of the most well intended plans, but they can be disrupted. I think that is the beauty of it. There is a lot of fun in that and we are going to see if we can perform what we want to do against this competition and vice versa. I think that challenge is something that most all athletes look forward to.

Q: Will the big home crowd play a role tomorrow?

Lickliter: I don't think it will hurt by any means. We have great fans and I have been impressed. You would always like to have more in there. I don't know how many are expected to be there, but the ones we have had at the games have been very engaged and they not only have cheered good plays, but they have given us lifts when we have needed them. Hopefully we can perform at a level that they will enjoy and appreciate.

Q: Tony Freeman broke his foot three and a half weeks ago, and the original prognosis was to be out 4 to 6 weeks. It will be four weeks will be Thursday. Do you have a time frame on him?

Lickliter: I think we will have him reexamined this week and we have our fingers crossed that it will be sooner than later. He is doing a good job rehabbing, I know that.

Q: How do you feel about the concept of the Big Ten-ACC challenge?

Lickliter: I think they create a great interest. Don't you? Where I was at before, we had this bracket buster concept. One of the things I like about this is that it's not in your season. At that point, we were in our season, late in the year (bracket buster). That was difficult. This generates a lot of interest. It provides a quality opponent, home and away. The thing is, we will have plenty of quality opponents here on out. I would like to experience it, then I will let you know.

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