Lickliter: Tucker Returns to Practice

The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off of two straight dominating wins against UNI & Drake. They go for the in state sweep on Saturday in Des Moines against Drake. Head coach Todd Lickliter said on Thursday that leading scorer Anthony Tucker will return to practice and is not ruled out of the game at Drake.

Todd Lickliter Opening Statement:

It seems like it's been a long time since I have seen you. For a while there, there were a lot of games in a short amount of time. Now we had over a full week off. There are always different challenges in this, and it makes it interesting and fun. Every student athlete goes through finals week, and for five of our guys, it's a new experience. I know its really demanding. We have tried to be very thoughtful as far as the amount of time we have been together and the amount of time we have offered them to make sure they are prepared well for the final exams. I am sure they have worked diligently and I am sure they will take a deep breath on Friday and feel some relief. The problem is we have a huge exam Saturday, non academic, but Drake is just a terrific team. The more I have watched, the more impressed you are. They have poise, they are balanced, they are unselfish, they are skilled, well coached and on and on. It will be a really good test and something that helps you prepare for becoming a better team. I think we are making progress. We need to make more, but we are making progress.

Q: Did you expect these kinds of contributions from Jermain Davis?

Todd Lickliter: I really think that at this level, you are recruiting Division 1 players, they are all capable of contributing in some way. I don't know if one contribution to me is any more important than another. Jermain the other night, it wasn't just the energy, he was in the right place at the right time, he took advantage of opportunities, he is a good player. More importantly, he is unselfish. I will point again to a play, I think it was against UNI, where Matt Gatens had hit two or three three's, and he passes one up early in the shot clock and late in the game. Those things stick out to me, because you are going to see guys doing different things on different nights, because their focus is correct. I don't think there is anyone on this team that feels like they have to score. They are going to take advantage of opportunities and help us compete. I think that might be what you see. I have great confidence in these guys that they will play the game in a manner that will help us compete.

Q: With Jeremain, did you see what he has been able to do on the court when you recruited him?

Lickliter: You never know how that will translate, but I knew he was very capable. Again, I think what we talk about was his approach and his attitude. From the time we met and started recruiting he was impressed with our approach. He liked the team success conversations. That told me that he would fit in well.

Q: Is Drake similar to you?

Lickliter: I take that as a compliment. They are very balanced, and you could get somewhat tricked into thinking that they are going to rely only on the three. That is not the case, they drive it, they post, they cut and score inside. But, you have to respect their three-point shooting so much because the floor is spaced. Defensively, they have been predominantly zone, they do a great job with it. I am sure their zone has changed from last year because of the new coaching staff, but Arizona State zoned, where Mark came from. I am sure there are some consistencies there.

Q: What are the biggest differences in their style of play from last year to this year?

Lickliter: I haven't compared the two, but I think there is probably less than what you would anticipate in a coaching change, normally. It looks like it has been very smooth. There are a lot of things in the game that stay the same, but coaches emphasize different areas and I am sure Mark has emphasized areas that other coaches wouldn't, Keno also. It looks like to me things have been very smooth. There is good direction there, obviously. There is a real comfort area. I think you can see there is a real comfort with one another.

Q: It looks like you have to play for 40 minutes.

Lickliter: I said if someone will be successful against them, they have to prepare to play for 40 minutes. I have seen their Iowa State game, and other games. I think that goes to poise, to confidence.

Q: Do you have an update on Anthony Tucker's status?

Lickliter: He has met a lot of the responsibilities. One of the things I want to say, and maybe we should have phrased this differently, he was suspended from team practices, but he has been at every practice and has been a part of the team. Now, he can practice with us again, I anticipate that being as early as 2:30 today (Thursday) and we will move forward to the next thing from there. Once he practices, then availability in games will be the next step. I anticipate that to be soon also, the way things are progressing.

Q: He could play Saturday?

Lickliter: I would think so; there is a possibility any way. I really respect his approach to this point.

Q: With two big wins recently and finals, do you worry about a let down?

Lickliter: All of those issues come up. Finals, not having a game for a week, opponents that are instate, just different things. What you have to do is remain consistent. If we can just approach the game and the practices with respect and humility, then I think you have less of a chance of having outside situations influence you. I thought that last week, I was proud of our efforts. I thought they were a quality opponent, it was exciting. Everyone understands the importance of this week, as far as our final exam, and they understand the demand that Drake places.

Q: Talk about your crowd against ISU, and the boost a good crowd gives you.

Lickliter: It speaks to togetherness of Hawkeyes; that means our team and fans. I think our players, and I have said this, I believe they are playing the game with a lot of intensity. I think they are very proud to represent the University of Iowa and they are playing unselfishly. For me it would seem like a natural for people to come and see us, and support us and be a part of it. People say when you win, they will come. If people will come, then maybe we can perform well and win and support one another. That is the ideal way. We are working towards that, it was great to see people at the Iowa State game. I have been pleased with the people that are here. They are knowledgeable fans, they are supportive, I just wish they would bring a few hundred of their closest friends when they come.

Q: Are you noticing Jarryd Cole being more of a spark for you?

Lickliter: I see it all of the time. I think that maybe we got a little anxious and weren't fair to Jarryd as far as how long he was out and how long the process would be. Nobody is more unselfish than Jarryd, he works hard, he is a terrific captain, and I anticipate when called upon, he is going to give us good minutes.

Q: Do you think there were undue expectations placed on him in the eyes of the media and fans due to his being name a co-captain?

Lickliter: I didn't make him a co-captain, I asked him if he would fill that role because I saw the leadership ability and he agreed. If you can see the way he approaches things, you know that whether he is on the court or plays a lot of minutes, he is a leader. That is what captains should be. They don't have to start or be the leading scorer, he should lead. Sometimes the best leaders are the ones that show a positive attitude during adversity. He did that last year. And this year, Cyrus struggled at The Citadel, and Jarryd really filled in well on the court. Cyrus was our most vocal guy on the bench, and that was his chance to lead from that point. I think there are opportunities to lead in all situations, and these guys have shown they have the right approach.

Q: If you get Anthony back, how will you integrate him back into things?

Lickliter: I would have to rely on my judgment and evaluate. If he practices today and Friday, we will see. I think Saturday would be a rushed timeline, but I am not going to rule it out and I am not going to say it's a guarantee, either. We will have to see. I think he will be prepared as far as being able to compete and play. He is very involved at the practices without being on the court.

Q: What did you make him do?

Lickliter: Most of it, and I don't know if the University makes policy public or not, but they have policies on this. What I want him to do is to show the responsibility and initiative of meeting those. And have the right attitude. I thought he had the right attitude, he was remorseful, and he was responsive and has been diligent in meeting the requirements.

Q: Were you aware that before losing to Drake these past two years, Iowa had not lost to them in 27 straight games?

Lickliter: No, I wasn't aware of it. I was aware of last year's situation, where they came in here and beat us and played well. I am aware of how good they are right now, and what we need to try to do.

Q: Are there any worries about your players being ineligible?

Lickliter: I really don't have any worries. I don't have any worries about eligibility. IF you coach, you spend most of your life worrying about something, unfortunately. The academic support here is such that it's a separate entity. My responsibility is to make sure that I promote proper study habits, promote earning a degree, recruit individuals that are degree seeking and continue to support their efforts. I do that, and from what I can gather, our student athletes are all capable. They have the time to prepare and I expect them to perform well.

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