Oct. 31, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- No one publicly knows the score, but the University of Iowa men's basketball team's performance against No. 15/16 Creighton during an Oct. 28 closed scrimmage was "substantially better" than the last time the teams played -- an 82-59 Bluejay win at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines a year ago.
The final score or team statistics can't be publicized due to NCAA regulations, but Iowa feels much better about its performance than it did 10 and a half months earlier.
"It was a substantially better performance than the last time we played, to say the least," said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. "I was pleased with overall what we were able to get accomplished."
Sophomore Aaron White remembers vividly the game against Creighton last season. Iowa headed to Des Moines with a 3-0 record before getting handed the 23-point defeat.
"That was one of our worst games last year," said White. "We all know we got better from that point of the season to the end of the season. It was good to have that same team come to our building before our season starts to see where we're at this year versus the end of last year and keep building on that."
Creighton's frontcourt of forward Doug McDermott and center Gregory Echenique gave the Hawkeyes a fit a year ago. McDermott, a 2012-13 preseason All-American, netted 25 points and had nine boards, while Echenique had 15 points and nine board.
Iowa freshman Adam Woodbury was thrown into the fire against the Creighton duo, and McCaffery says he held his own.
"Woodbury, from the very beginning, was banging with him (Echenique), made it hard on him and didn't back down physically," said McCaffery. "Woodbury is fearless. That's what you need to see.
"We still have a lot of growing to do, we're a young team. It was good to see how far we've come in basic things like communication and defense. You can see the steps of us moving forward."
Senior guard Eric May
"Last year, Echenique had his way with us and could do whatever he wanted. That wasn't the case (this year). He played well, but he had to work harder. We had a low-post presence in that game, and that's going to be very important from us as we move forward."
Woodbury called the closed scrimmage a good learning experience to get on the court.
"They have two (future) NBA players on their team, so that was a great experience to see where I stood," said Woodbury. "I tried to play as hard as possible, not give up too many inches, play physical and not let him push me around."
Senior Eric May said there were positives, but there is work that still needs to be done.
"We still have a lot of growing to do, we're a young team," said May, the team captain. "It was good to see how far we've come in basic things like communication and defense. You can see the steps of us moving forward."
McCaffery and the Hawkeyes will hold their only exhibition Sunday when they host Quincy University at 1:30 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"We're going to go at it like we're trying to win the game," said McCaffery of the exhibition. "You put uniforms on, put people in the building, we're keeping score. The focus has to be on what do we have to do to win.
"This team won 18 games last year. They didn't play well at Notre Dame (lost, 111-52), so they're going to come in with a game plan to try and play a lot better than they did the other night. Hopefully, we'll be ready for that."