SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Friday night at the Sanford Pentagon was a tale of two Hawkeyes.
There was the Iowa team from the 10-minute mark of the first half to the 10-minute mark of the second half that turned the ball over 12 times in just that span, was chasing on defense and just sort of lost in general.
Then there was the Iowa team that started and ended the game — an aggressive bunch on both ends of the floor that caused Colorado all kinds of problems with the press and in both man and zone. It was the latter version that swarmed to rebounds and worked the ball effectively for open looks. Luckily for the Hawkeyes, it was the end-of-the-game version that showed up when it did. Iowa got a fourth straight win, 80-73, and sent the Buffaloes back to Boulder, Colo., empty-handed.
Coach Fran McCaffery told BTN right after the game, “we grew up tonight.” That makes a lot of sense considering overcoming 19 turnovers and coming out of a funk to reclaim a victory is not something Iowa had been able to do this year.
“Whenever you have a lead, give it up, get it back, give it up again, you’ve got to fight through,” McCaffery said. “We were making mistakes. We had to overcome those mistakes, correct them as the game’s going on and then execute. We had some guys individually who weren’t playing well early, who played well late, and that’s always good to see.”
A few different Hawkeyes fit that latter description from McCaffery, but the guy especially who was good throughout the game and spurred the second-half resurgence was sophomore Maishe Dailey.
Dailey co-led Iowa in scoring with 16 points on 5 of 7 shooting and 2 of 3 from 3-point range while adding five rebounds. While playing a season-high 27 minutes, he also was one of two Hawkeyes not to have a turnover — Jack Nunge the other, though he played just 10 minutes. His ball-handling and shot selection were only surpassed by his defense, which he said remains one of the most fun parts of his game.
Iowa being able to overcome the lull of the middle of the game likely doesn’t happen without Dailey. Ask Isaiah Moss, who also had 16 points and was the spark to begin the game, Jordan Bohannon, who had 14 points and six rebounds, or Cordell Pemsl, who had 10 points and eight rebounds, and they’ll tell you the same thing.
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McCaffery called Dailey “fantastic,” and said he was “pretty much playing mistake-free basketball.” Dailey dismissed that, going the humble route in saying there still was plenty he could’ve done better, but what he did acknowledge was the belief his coach and his teammates had in him at the sold-out Sanford Pentagon.
While he maintains none of what he’s done right this season has surprised him — “because of the work I’ve put in,” he said — his confidence gets an undeniable and invaluable boost when he knows he’s trusted.
“It’s really important for me, I think for everybody on the team, to know I can drive the ball and take a shot and not have to look over my shoulder or just know everybody has that trust in me to do what I’m capable of,” Dailey said. “I think my confidence has been building every game because every game is a new experience for me since I didn’t play too much last year. I think I’m growing with my confidence and play every game.”
His level of confidence isn’t the only thing growing. Iowa has a four-game winning streak — its longest of the season — has one game remaining against Northern Illinois left before Big Ten play resumes, and is playing better as a unit than at any other point of the season.
Getting past those 19 turnovers — compared to just 13 assists as a team — came with a lot of little moments that coupled with the big ones from Dailey and Moss.
There was the fact that the “neutral” floor was 98 percent Iowa fans. There was the second half possession where Bohannon was dribbling up the court and those fans in the north end of the gym shouted “wolf,” in unison as a warning to the Hawkeyes’ point guard there was an unseen defender coming from behind. It was a moment McCaffery gave a smile about, saying “they weren’t the only ones hollering,” and about which Bohannon said, “it was pretty special to have 3,200 people yell that there’s a guy behind you. It avoided a turnover there and taking a trip to the bench. They were really locked into the game. I don’t know if it was the selling of the beer or not, but they were locked in. We have to applaud them for that.”
Then there was the scoring from Bohannon and Pemsl; the 12 points and six rebounds from Tyler Cook, too. There was the emotion of the late second half where Cook and Pemsl both had big defensive plays and fed off the crowd — Pemsl in particular flexing and cheering with fans on two occasions.
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There also was that odd moment where a Colorado assistant stepped onto the court to retrieve a stray water bottle, the ball hit his head and the Buffaloes were assessed a technical.
The good and the bad added up to a type of win the Hawkeyes just haven’t been able to get this season. Starting and ending strong has been a challenging goal, but if ever Iowa needed it, Friday was that time.
“We obviously didn’t play our best game, but we were able to stay composed, come together and have that chemistry on the court, get the bench involved, get the crowd involved and execute,” Pemsl said. “I wanted to let (the crowd) know we needed them to win this game. I just try to get everybody involved, trying to get as much home court as we can, especially in a game like this.
“It looked like we were about to give up, but we stayed together.
GREENWAY GIVES CEREMONIAL TIP
Former Iowa and Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway made a bit of a homecoming Friday night in Sioux Falls. The Mount Vernon, S.D. native tossed up the ceremonial tipoff before the Iowa-Colorado game.
Greenway, who was there with his family, has actually taken up coaching basketball in his NFL retirement, coaching his oldest daughter Maddyn’s youth basketball team in the Twin Cities. Greenway also has served on the Super Bowl host committee, helping plan events during Super Bowl week in Minneapolis, he said.
His getting to see the Iowa men’s basketball team play was the first time he’d gotten to do so in more than a decade. Given he has daughters, there’s a different Iowa hoops team on which his house focuses.
“A men’s game was probably 2005 or 2006,” Greenway said. “We’ve been to women’s games since. We probably are more interested in the women’s program — I have all daughters that love basketball.
“So we love them. I was there with Coach Bluder, everything she stands for, love her and her program.”
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