B1Gger Stakes on New Year's Eve
Dec. 31, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
"It's a whole different beast than the nonconference games," said senior captain Eric May. "It's faster and every game means something. Every team can bring it, and there are no walks in the park. Everybody is here to beat up on each other, and we have to bring it every game."
The Hawkeyes have brought it more times than not during its nonconference schedule. Iowa has posted a five-game winning streak and is currently riding a six-game winning streak to run its record to 11-2. The team's last loss came over a month ago (Nov. 27) at Virginia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Iowa has run its home record to 9-0, winning by an average margin of 24.2 points, and it has won 10 straight dating back to last season. Now the stakes get higher.
The arena will be rocking with a sold out crowd of 15,400 invading Carver and a national television audience tuning in on ESPN2. That brings a new level of excitement for freshman Mike Gesell when preparing for his first Big Ten contest.
"Any time I get to step out on our home floor in front of our home crowd it has been a lot of fun," said Gesell, who is one of nine freshmen nationally averaging nine-plus points, three-plus rebounds and three-plus assists. "This is a little bit extra. It's our first Big Ten game against a ranked opponent. It's going to be a lot of fun, but we have to prepare like it's any other team.
"We can't get too hyped and do crazy things out there. We have to play our game."
Junior guard Roy Devyn Marble says he's eager to see how the Hawkeyes stack up in the rugged Big Ten Conference. Today's game will be a good barometer.
"It's a ranked opponent, a top-five team," said Marble, who is leading Iowa with 15.7 points on 45.4 percent shooting. "It should be a great test to see where we stand in the Big Ten. We're going to approach it with that mindset and play our best."
Winning has allowed the Hawkeyes to get noticed nationally, as Iowa is creeping its way into the conversations of the season-long NCAA Tournament debates.
"That comes with the territory of winning, you start to earn a little bit of respect," said Marble. "But conference play can change you for the good or bad. We have to stay focused and take it one game at a time."
Even with the NCAA talk, sophomore Aaron White says the team's mentality is it was in October during the Iowa Basketball Media Day festivities.
"We weren't 11-2 on media day, but we had the same mindset," said White. "We're going to play in the NCAA Tournament, and that's what we're doing. We're taking it game-by-game and learning every day, but we've put in the time to get better... we keep improving."
Today's game is slated to begin at 3:05 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised live on ESPN2 with Jim Barbar and Dan Dakich calling the action.