Hawkeye Basketball Prepares for Arkansas-Pine Bluff

From Hawkeye Sports

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By Sam Louwagie

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- One game in an 18-day span isn't how University of Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery would have liked to have drawn it up.

"It is not always possible to lay a schedule out exactly where you want it," McCaffery said Friday during a media teleconference. "You do the best you can.

"Unless we're in a Christmas tournament, I want the players to have a couple of days with their families away from basketball because inevitably what comes after is the Big Ten schedule."

Iowa's last game was Dec. 13 at Iowa State. Its next game is Sunday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Hawkeyes open their Big Ten slate on New Year's Eve, hosting Nebraska at 6 p.m. (CT).

Even with the layoff in game action and the sporadic practice schedule due to finals week, McCaffery isn't worried how his team will respond.

"We have motivated players," he said. "I went recruiting a couple of days, and they were in here working out on their own. When I call in and know I have a gym full of guys getting after it that tells me what I need to know about the motivation and character on our team."

McCaffery has had a deep bench at his disposal through the first 12 games, and the Hawkeyes will become even deeper Sunday with the return of junior guard Josh Oglesby from injury.

"It's going to be hard to figure out, (playing) 11 is harder than (playing) 10," he said. "There were times that I felt we needed Josh and times when I thought this was a great opportunity for Peter (Jok).

"It's obvious that Mike (Gesell) and Dev (Roy Devyn Marble) are starters, but when you look at (Anthony) Clemmons, Oglesby, and Jok, those three guys can help us win games. The fact that we have versatility and depth is going to be crucial."

Oglesby is known for his 3-point shooting acumen, but McCaffery says he brings so much more to the table.

"I don't look him as just a 3-point shooter, I look at him as one of our better players," said McCaffery. "He can pass, defend, doesn't turn it over, is experienced, and happens to make jump shots. It's important we get Josh Oglesby back, not that we get a 3-point shooter back."

Even with Iowa's late game struggles from the charity stripe against the Cyclones, McCaffery doesn't lose sleep over his team's free throw shooting. He believes good shooters will make their attempts, and he has such players.

"It's one of those things where they're good shooters and over the course of the season their percentages are going to be good," he said. "We always want them to make every one, and you're shocked when someone like Mike (Gesell) misses.

"Certain guys, when it doesn't go in, you're surprised. Devyn (Marble) shot 80 percent last year, and he's below 70 percent this year, but when it's all said and done, he'll be at 75 percent or better."

Sunday's game will be streamed on ESPN3 with BJ Schaben and Kevin Lehman on the call.

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