Iowa men’s basketball center Filip Rebraca said Saturday’s Hawkeyes 93-77 road loss in Ohio State lacked two key elements: effort and attention to detail.
Iowa was within striking distance at halftime, but a lack of execution on the course prevented a fifth straight win and set the stage for a crucial series of games to come.
The Hawkeyes travel to Michigan State on Thursday night (6pm CT on Fox Sports 1) and play a Spartans team also looking for a win after losing three of their last four games. Iowa could see the return of Patrick McCaffery in East Lansing (more on that later).
Coach Fran McCaffery’s team on Saturday lacked the “no-nonsense” approach needed to win away in the Big Ten. How did Iowa react? McCaffery addressed this with reporters during his Zoom meeting on Wednesday.
“They were really professional, as I expected,” McCaffery said. “We weren’t that connected on either end of the floor, that was obvious. We’re not a team that turns the ball 14 times. We’re not a team that rebounds like that, especially in 20 minutes (rebounded 21-10 in the second half).
“We played well for a while. We made a couple of runs, kept closing the gap (the gap to eight points) and couldn’t make it below eight. You have to learn from that, this is a mature group and I think that their approach was really good.”
What particularly hurt Iowa last Saturday was a poor defense that resulted in 56 second-half allowable points. Poor rotations and communication allowed the Buckeyes to shoot 50% from 3-point range in the contest. Tightening the perimeter will be a focus Thursday as Michigan State is the fourth-best team in the conference at three-point shooting (37%). And perhaps more important than playing better defense, Iowa needs to end defensive possession with defensive rebounds.
McCaffery pointed to another issue that needs improvement: offensive execution. On paper, the Hawkeyes shot a good percentage (45% from the field, 46% from three), but the excessive turnovers and some sections of poor shot selection gave Ohio State chances to score at the other end. Iowa needs to play more under control and master the tempo against Michigan State point guard AJ Hoggard, who McCaffery says is currently playing at an elite level.
“I thought a lot of our problems were in our offensive execution,” McCaffery said. “(Ohio State) got some transition opportunities and they got to play from the front. They were comfortable running their stuff. They ran their stuff at their pace and they went back and got their mistakes. They were in a really good rhythm and we didn’t do anything to disrupt that.”
Patrick McCaffery is a game decider Thursday night
The Iowa coach also provided another update on the launch of forward Patrick McCaffery, who has not played a game since Jan. 1 as he battles anxiety. Fran McCaffery confirmed that Patrick’s return this season isn’t a question of if, but when. And it could come as early as Thursday night in East Lansing.
“This will be game time,” McCaffery said. “He’s still practicing, he’s doing better.”
The junior returned to training last week to begin the team’s resumption process. As of Wednesday, McCaffery is in full training and will return whenever he feels ready.
“He’s doing whatever everyone else is doing right now,” McCaffery said. “So he runs, he presses, he shoots and he trains. I think his condition should be fine whenever he decides to play.”