Oct. 31, 2013
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- With expectations and hype surrounding the 2013-14 University of Iowa men's basketball program, it's time for the Hawkeyes to take another step forward.
"We're very optimistic about this year's team," UI head coach Fran McCaffery said Thursday at 2013 Big Ten Basketball Media Day at Hyatt Regency O'Hare. "We recognize the position we're in, and we welcome the challenge. We have a great level of maturity on this team, and we're looking forward to it."
The Hawkeyes were picked to finish fifth in the unofficial Big Ten basketball reporters preseason poll, behind Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Spartans were also the unanimous favorite by a panel of conference media released by the Big Ten Office, followed by Michigan and Ohio State. Only the top three teams are unveiled.
"It's a projection," said senior Roy Devyn Marble, one of four Hawkeyes in attendance at the event, along with seniors Melsahn Basabe, Zach McCabe and junior Aaron White. "At the end of the year, projections aren't always true. We're going to go out there and play, and we'll see how everything plays out."
McCaffery says the Big Ten Conference will be as good as it has ever been, and there are teams from top-to-bottom that people don't want to play.
"You need maturity, mental toughness, courage, making shots late and having the intelligence and instincts not to make mistakes down the stretch (to win on the road). We have that with this group, but you still have to go prove it and do it. That's the challenge."
UI head coach Fran McCaffery
"You can look at it two ways," he said. "It's scary, but to me, that's what makes it great. It is what makes it fun and exciting for our fans. It is very challenging for us, but it will be interesting to see what record wins the league. There are going to be a lot of teams beating up on each other."
McCaffery believes the Hawkeyes have what it takes to compete (and win) on the road this season, but it will be a matter of doing it.
"You need maturity, mental toughness, courage, making shots late and having the intelligence and instincts not to make mistakes down the stretch (to win on the road)," said McCaffery. "We have that with this group, but you still have to go prove it and do it. That's the challenge."
Marble says it will be important for the Hawkeyes to show up every time out because the team isn't going to be able to sneak up on people anymore.
"We're not the team that can surprise people like we did our sophomore season," said Marble. "We're good enough that we don't need to sneak up on teams anymore. We need to play the way we know how, and if we do that, everything will take care of itself.
"We can't be worried about who we're playing. We need to leave everything out on the court. We don't want to have any games like the Campbells or Gardner Webbs. We should never be down 20 to a team at home or any team. We have to avoid coming out flat and make the most of every opportunity."
The Hawkeyes will host an exhibition game Sunday afternoon against Augustana (Ill.) beginning at 3:30 p.m. (CT). It is the second half of an Iowa basketball doubleheader, as the women's team hosts Concordia-St. Paul at 1 p.m. on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.