Iowa, part II

Tonight marks the first time this year that Indiana (or Iowa) plays a second game against a team.

The Hoosiers handled Iowa with ease the first time around at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 2. The final score, 79-76, was only close because Justin Johnson hit six 3-pointers in the final 1:56 and Indiana missed a bunch of free throws.

So, looked at in that context, Indiana, which hasn’t lost since at home since Mike Davis was coach, has a clear advantage in this game.

A few things to remember though:

  • When the Hoosiers played at Iowa, the Iowa students had yet to return from winter break. The arena wasn’t full, and wasn’t all that loud. It’s not like Indiana stuck it to a team with its usual crowd behind it.
  • Tony Freeman, whose father was a member of the 1987 Indiana team that won the national title, is healthy now and averaging 23.5 points per game in the last four games. He suffered a broken foot early in the year and missed 10 games. And as Indiana fans recall — having watched D.J. White go through it — coming back from a foot injury is difficult for any basketball player. Feet, it turns out, are an important component of effective play.
  • Todd Lickliter is eventually going to get his kids playing tough, unrelentingly effective basketball. That’s his trademark. He’s the son of a high school basketball coach — his father Arlan was the coach at North Central in Indianapolis — and he spent 12 years coaching in high schools before making the jump. He spoke Monday about what he learned from those days, saying that the biggest challenge was taken what you’re given and, each season, turning it into the type of team it needs to be. That’s exactly what he’s having to do this season; he inherited Steve Alford’s players but lost the best one, Tyler Smith, to transfer. So he’s lacking talent and doesn’t have the type of players he’d like to have to run his program (Butler has them.) The big question with Lickliter isn’t whether he can coach at the Big Ten level . . . it’s whether he can recruit. Nobody should doubt that the Hawkeyes will make things difficult every game once they get Lickliter, and that certainly appears to be happening. Iowa beat Michigan State 43-36 and Michigan in Ann Arbor 68-60 with a 67-62 loss to Purdue wedged between.