12/27 Todd Lickliter Q&A

The last time Iowa fans heard from Todd Lickliter, it was just after the Hawkeyes home loss to Drake. Coach Lickliter talks about the improvements his team has made in practice, as well as injury updates on Tony Freeman and Jeff Peterson, plus some recruiting comments and much more...

Q: During this time off, a lot of coaches look forward to the teaching opportunities without games coming at you. What do you think this team has accomplished since the Drake game.

Todd Lickliter: One thing they have accomplished is that a few of them have gotten healed up. Tony si feeling better, Jeff Peterson is better. We are try to continue to grow, to eliminate some of the things that have kept us from being successful. Try to get the guys to play to the strengths of the team, and emphasize those things. It has been good. You are not trying to prepare for an opponent, but you are trying to continue to take a look at the entire system. I think it is a good time. We said today, we felt good this morning, we like the idea that we are beyond some of the more basic things. Now we can move on and talk about other concepts. You have to rely on the basics, but you can go on to the next concept.

Q: You worked a lot on help defense and team defense in practice. What are some other things that you have worked on specifically that you have stressed the last 10 days?

Lickliter: I think one of the things we have tried to stress is knowing your teammates and putting them in good positions. Like today, we are throwing the ball to guys in positions where they can be successful now. Kurt Looby over the top, Seth when he is spotted up. Our guards are in position, spacing wise where they are effective and where we can find them. Our offensive spacing hasn't been real good in the past and it's getting better. We are starting to understand where we should be when people penetrate. That is a really good thing. That is what being a team is. We are supportive of one another.

Q: How much progress have Jeff and Tony made, health wise?

Lickliter: I don't know if they are 100 percent, but they are quite a bit further than where they were and more comfortable. Tony is more comfortable. I haven't asked him about the pain, but every day I think that they are showing signs. Jeff hasn't bit hit for a week and a half, and that is big. He was slow to heal before, and he made some progress.

Q: How is Dan Bohall, what is his status?

Lickliter: We are meeting and he is getting closer to completing his requirements and he is making progress in that regard.

Q: How did the team do academically in the fall?

Lickliter: I haven't received reports yet. We are still waiting on those. I am anticipating that everything will be positive.

Q: Statistically, you haven't gotten many fast break points, especially recently. Is that a concern of yours, is that something systematically that just hasn't come around yet?

Lickliter: There is a real balance to that. You have to get stops first of all. You have to finish the rebounding. We would love to have some uncontested shots at the other end. I worry more, not that we are not getting the fast break points, but what is happening on the other end, why are we not able to get the stop and convert. If we could get the stop, I don't mind having to go down and work and try to find the shot we want. I don't mind that at all. I will be glad when we get to the point where we have a good understanding of when to break, what we have and then also be patient and get into opportunistic basketball, what is available to us and get the shot we want.

Q: Are you comfortable now knowing what each player can do and how they best fit into your system, and do you look for more consistency?

Lickliter: More than me feeling comfortable, they need to feel comfortable. The other players need to know what each guy is comfortable with. I said this before, we have tried to make plays that are really high in difficulty. It's because we are not comfortable with what the high percentage play is. We were throwing difficult passes for bigs to catch. It's not that they are not open or the pass was bad, but that it was hard for that individual. It's more important that each player knows their strengths and plays to them, and that the teammates know that individual's strengths and help them play to it, more than if I know what they can do. I have a pretty good feel for what they can do, I am just trying to convince them.

Q: With the Big Ten season on the horizon, your team has done some good things at times, what is your point of view looking at the Big Ten. Do you think the team can make enough progress to be truly competitive in the Big Ten, or is this a continuous learning process and regroup for next year?

Lickliter: That is a good question. The way I approach things, as long as there is competition, you want to be prepared to compete. I think the way you do that is to get better today. Continuous growth. If you are going to build a program, if we had more time in the fall, as I said, we could show greater progress. If you didn't have games and just practicing and had a game every few weeks, you would probably show greater progress. But you have to prepare for opponents, and that is difficult. As you said, we have shown signs and have played good basketball, but we have not been able to sustain it. We have to do that. We know how good the competition is. If we don't, if we don't play to our strengths and sustain effort, concentration and focus, we will struggle, as will most teams. The good teams do those things.

Q: What can you tell us about SE Louisiana?

Lickliter: I know that their coach is a pressure defense coach. Their opponents are shooting 29 percent from the three and less than 40 percent overall. They are 7-4 right now, playing good basketball. Their coach is a protégé of the College of Charleston, and is a terrific offensive coach, too. We understand that they are a very good team and playing good. We have a feel for their system. We have another day and a half to continue to work towards preparing for them.

Q: Looking back at the Drake game, no free throw attempts. That is the first time in Iowa history that has happened.

Lickliter: I am trying not to look back at that. It is not something I am pleased with. It tells me that we must not have attacked enough. We have to find a way to get to the line. If we get to the line that game, we have a great chance of winning it. We have to get to the line, attack off the dribble more effectively. We also have to find ways to flash in the post and attack that way. Drake played some zone that game, quite a bit, and that is to their advantage. You foul less in zone. Part of it was their approach to the game. I have to give them credit. We have to find ways to get to the line, there is no question.

Q: Now that you are through the break, would you have liked to have gotten a game in, having been through it, or are you more comfortable with practice time.

Lickliter: We probably will have a better feel for that after we play. I don't know that we could get a game in over finals. It's a schedule that we inherited. They were thinking finish finals, take a break and review what you need to and start up again. My feeling is that it probably was good for our guys to heal up, to be able to review. Only time will tell. NOTE: On the schedule, a game that was originally scheduled for last Saturday had to be canceled because of the change in the Big Ten Schedule from 16 games to 18 games.

Q: Are you guys done recruiting in this class, if not are you looking high school, Juco, what positions?

Lickliter: We are still recruiting. We think we need some help inside. So whichever that comes from, we are recruiting all levels right now.

Q: Is it hard not to have a vested interest in how things are going at Butler and do you still follow that team?

Lickliter: I love those guys. That was the hardest part of anything, the relationships you build and not being around guys that you care about. But I have a new team and my focus is on this team and I am thankful to be here. But I am pulling for them. I want them to win every game that they ever play, unless they play us.

Q: Health of the rest of your team?

Lickliter: I think they are good too. Everyone seems to be fine. We seem to be pretty healthy. That is a good thing right now.

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