Lickliter Talks State & Big Ten Tournament

Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter met with the media in what might have been his last Monday press conference of the year. He spoke at length about the Iowa High School tournament and future Hawkeye Matt Gatens, his hometown of Indianapolis, site of this week's Big Ten tournament, on Iowa's first round opponent Michigan and much more...

Todd Lickliter Opening Statements


I had a chance to get to see the way it's done down in Des Moines this past weekend.  That was a lot of fun.  I have to say this, that things sometimes do have a way of working out that we were off, and they moved the state tournament by a week and it was quite an event.  I am thankful in that regard.  We waited until yesterday to see who we would be playing and I have to say I am impressed with what Ed DeChellis has done with that team.  You lose Claxton and Cornley and you keep fighting and playing and they were able to secure the 7th the way they did.  I have been impressed with the job they have done.  That bumps us obviously, so now we will start it off against Michigan.  It's an interesting match up I think in that they shot better here, we shot better there, now we are on a neutral court. I hope it goes back to us.  I would like to be the better shooting team this time.  They were terrific against us in the second half here and we will have to see if we can't do a better job of affecting shots.  What they do provided them open looks and we were not able to contain.  We will have to do a better job.


Do you have more ticket requests than you have tickets?


They give us a certain amount of tickets.  It's at noon on Thursday and a lot of my family will be at work.  My mother will be there, I can promise that.  My wife will be there.  We have a list of people that have called.  Hopefully we can accommodate them.


Back to the state tournament; how was it sitting there and watching the team and your son?


It was terrific.  Somebody asked me which is harder, coaching or watching John?  Coaching is harder.  I enjoy watching him play and I enjoy watching teams.  City High is truly a team.  They share the ball, they cover for one another.  I have said all year, I have enjoyed watching them play as much as any team I have been a part of.  It was a great environment, it's well done, what a terrific arena, good competition.  It was an event that I was glad we got to be a part of. My two older sons and daughter in law came in from Indianapolis.  It was a terrific weekend.


Did you get a feeling that most of the people knew who you were?


There were a lot of people there, so to say most, I don't know.  There were people that spoke to me.


What did you think of Matt Gatens' play in the tournament?


I would like to take him with us (Thursday).  I don't have any complaint with Matt's play. 


The first half against Linn Marr was probably as good of high school basketball that you could see played by one team.


I agree.  So much of it is shot selection.  There is skill, they have guys that can make shots.  I think they shot it almost 50 percent from the floor during those three games.  They didn't shoot it as well in the championship game, but a lot of it's ball movement nad shooting good shots.


You mentioned John walking on…


That is the plan.


Will he be on the bench next season?


That is the plan.  (laughs)


How does Iowa high school basketball compare to what you know of Indiana?


What I have seen, they are similar.  Whatever state you go to, it's similar.  There are some teams that are better than others obviously, and it's cyclical in that you inherit talent in high school.  This City High team, John and I were talking, I think they could compete anywhere, any state.


How much was Gatens unselfishness a key to the team?


I think Matt would tell you he is not alone in that.  I don't think there is anyone on that team that didn't put the team first.  When your best player makes that kind of a statement, it's real easy to follow.  I think it's well documented that Matt's focus is for his team to have success.  Then you add into that his skill level and you have the kind of player you can build a championship around and that is what they did.


What part of Indianapolis did you grow up in?


I grew up on the north side of Indianapolis, probably 10 miles from downtown.  Same high school that Eric Gordon went to.  Pretty similar players (Laughs). 


One of your sons works for the Pacers?


He is doing an intership as a video coordinator.  It has been a great experience.  He just finished his degree in December and he thinks he wants to coach and he will do a terrific job.  He will be a really good coach.


How far is Hinkle Fieldhouse from Conseco?


It's right in between where I grew up and the city.  Maybe six or seven miles.


What do you like about Conseco?  You have had success there.


One of the things I really liked about it was a kid named Green, and another one by the name of Graves, and I can keep going.  We had a terrific team last year and we had a chance to play Notre Dame and Purdue there.  I loved Conseco.  People will tell you that it's modeled somewhat after Hinkle.  It is like the Fieldhouse, but with modern amenities.  It's great, and fortunately I know the people who are directly responsible for the building, the directors.  They have been longtime friends.  Through the years we have been able to get in and practice in there occasionally.  It's a great venue.  I think Indianapolis is a wonderful place to have events.  You can get to everything.  It's a good environment.


Back to Michigan; how nice is it to know that you beaten this team before?


Well, I guess I am under the feeling that knowing something and doing it are two different things.  We had success up there, but Michigan had success here.  No matter who we play, it's that day, you have to be better than them that day.  You prepare well and play hard and work hard, and that is all you can do.


Will you practice at Hinkle?


That is the plan right now. 


Jake Kelly has been scoring well last three weeks, how would you evaluate him the last three weeks overall?


I think Jake has a real desire to do what we ask and he really tries to do that.  He is at the first step of his career, so there are areas he struggles with, decision making and things.  The nice thing about it, he wants to correct it.  If we can get it to where he is real comfortable with his strengths, I think he can be really effective.  He is good at getting to the basket, he can compliment it with shooting it in.  He just has to get a grip for which one to do at what time.  Not predetermine.  I think there are times when Jake decides he is going to do one or the other and its not predicated by the defense.  He needs to do what the defense allows him.


Is he fairly tough mentally for a freshman?


I think he responds well.  If you would look at when he is challenged, he is not a guy who really needs excuses.  I think his quotes are really good.  He accepts that he needs to be challenged.  That is a good thing. 


You are Justin Johnson's third coach in his career, talk about how he has responded to that?


I think there are situations where that happens.  I think it's sometimes a good thing.  It's not easy during your career, but as he reflects, he will be in different environments, asked to do different things over the last few years and he will be able to draw on all of those situations and take what he likes.  Especially if he is every going to coach.  I transferred, it helped me as far as being able to assess leadership and how people respond.  I don't think it's a negative.  It is somewhat challenging, it probably was for him.  He has been a terrific teammate and someone I have enjoyed being around.  He has not shown it to be a negative to him.


Kurt Looby didn't have much experience compared to some other fifth year seniors, touch on what you have seen from him.


I think you are correct in saying that Kurt doesn't have a lot of experience.  I think he has five years of experience.  A lot of people in their 7th grade year, they have been playing five years.  That is not to compare him to that, it just shows you how late he started playing.  With that said, I think he catches on quickly.  I think that he has things that are a gift for this game.  He is long and reacts well and he is a great teammate.  I don't know what he wants to do beyond this.  He will graduate at the end of this term and he will make a decision.  I would definitely think he will continue to grow as a player if he chooses to continue to play


Are you concerned about Jeff Petersen's confidence right now?


I don't think that confidence….if you want to be confident, then go in the gym, work on your game, put your time in and concentrate on the proper approach and you will grow as a player.  It's this way; you earn confidence.  Jeff does that, he stayed after practice yesterday, he will continue to work.  I think it's more of just focusing and being able to concentrate on the task at hand and not be concerned about circumstances and concentrate on the game. 


What is your sense of Big Ten teams in the NCAA tournament?  Does Ohio State have more work to do?


Do I think that they are good enough to be in the tournament?  Yes.  But I haven't evaluated everyone else.  When selection Sunday is over, we will point to a half dozen to 10 teams that could be in the tournament.  I think the committee does a great job, but it's the nature of it.  I think Ohio State is good enough to play in this tournament.  I don't know what all the criteria is and that. 


If they don't make it, assuming there are no major upsets at the Big Ten Tournament, the Big Ten might only get four teams in.


I am wonder where you went with that?  Us and three others?  Would we be an upset?  We are planning on winning it.  You can go anywhere you want from there.  That is the idea behind it, right?  Going into this thing to winning it.  But I understand what you are saying.

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories