"As far as the university goes, he'd be eligible to play," Lickliter said on Tuesday at his weekly press conference. "I'm not comfortable with it. I wouldn't rule it out (Tucker playing in a game again this season), but I haven't made that decision yet."
Tucker was indefinitely suspended from the team after being arrested in late December (later pleaded guilty) for public intoxication, his second citation on that charge in a year. He missed nine games and is unlikely to see the floor against Ohio State on Wednesday night.
Tucker has satisfied university requirements to return to action, Lickliter said. The final go-ahead has fallen into the coach's hands.
"To be quite honest with you, not to take anything away from Anthony, I care about him," Lickliter said. "This is the most (attention) that's been directed to him in quite a while. Anthony is going to have to pull himself out of this. It's up to him. His life is important to us, but there are a lot of important things going on."
Lickliter and several players who spoke on Tuesday said the team moved on when Tucker was suspended. The Hawkeyes have won three of their last four games, and it's a wait-and-see approach to find out how Tucker (11.9 PPG, 31.9 min in 11 games) blends back into the team.
"We've prepared well. I like the way we're playing," Lickliter said. "Anthony can come and help us in practice. His concentration should be on his schooling and the responsibilities he has. Getting in the gym is a good way for him to probably take his mind off of some of those things."
Lickliter would not say that Tucker was on a short leash with him. Asked if his sophomore couldn't make another mistake, the coach said: "I would hope not."
Lickliter said Tucker, who was academically ineligible for the second semester last season, was remorseful upon his return. The coach felt like allowing him back on the team was the right thing to do.
"I've tried to live a life where you strike a balance," Lickliter said. "As I told him, if you're in the work force, you might not get this opportunity. But student-athletes have their whole lives ahead of them. Earning a degree is a real benefit for a young person as they go through life. I wanted to encourage him to stay on course and earn a degree. That's what we're doing."
CHANGE OF SCENARY Lickliter talked a lot last week about the impressive environments at Michigan State and Indiana, two places the Hawkeyes visited. He wanted to look into making the atmosphere at Carver-Hawkeye Arena more difficult on opponents.
"I read a quote from somebody that said success leaves clues," Lickliter said. "Well, we're ninth in the Big Ten in attendance. What is the first-place team doing? Well, they're winning. I understand that.
"But Indiana, they're able to have a high attendance (while rebuilding). What is it? I can blame somebody or they can blame me. What I would prefer is that we somehow work together to figure out how to help create, while we're rebuilding, that kind of environment. What is it that we need to do? Maybe it is what we're doing. I don't know. I have to be fair. Our home games have been during break."
-Lickliter would not reveal who would be guarding Ohio State superstar Evan Turner. The players that were asked said it would be team defense.
-Red shirt Devon Archie has been able to practice close to full speed, Lickliter said. The coach commended the junior college transfer and walk-on Nick Neari for their work in preparing the regulars for games.