IOWA CITY — The prospect of the Hawkeyes facing No. 4 Michigan State without Jordan Bohannon is real.
The junior point guard was held out of practice Monday after having his minutes reduced in last weekend’s 82-58 loss at Penn State because of an illness.
“It’s weird because he was feeling awful on Saturday,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said Monday. “He felt a little bit better yesterday. Seemed like he was on his way back, and then today he feels worse. So, he won’t be around anybody today.”
It goes without saying that the Hawkeyes (12-13, 3-9 Big Ten) need Bohannon, Iowa’s second-leading scorer (13.6) and assist leader (5.2) for Tuesday's matchup against the Spartans (22-3, 10-2).
McCaffery said junior guard Brady Ellingson is expected to return. He’s missed the last four games with a concussion. Sophomore Maishe Dailey could see a spike in minutes. He had four points and three turnovers in 26 minutes last Saturday at Penn State. Tip off is 8 p.m. and the game is on ESPN.
“It all depends on Jordan. His (Dailey’s) role will be about the same,” McCaffery said. “If Jordan can’t play, obviously he’ll be more involved and so will Brady, and Isaiah’s (Moss) will stay about the same.”
Bohannon is one of Iowa’s best players. Michigan State is Michigan State.
“We have our hands full with a team that’s one of the best teams in the country,” McCaffery said. “They’ve got multiple pros, and they defend. They share the ball. They run. They’re big and physical, and they’re deep, so we’ve got to get them ready. We’ve got to play better than we did the other night. We have to execute better offensively than we did the other night.”
McCaffery mentioned Michigan State’s physicality, which has been a trademark quality of Tom Izzo’s MSU teams. McCaffery also was asked if his team is a year away from pushing back and holding its own in that regard against a Michigan State.
“I think you have to look at this team and say, ‘Look, we’re in the same conference as they are. We’d better be as physical as they are. We’d better be as tough as they are,’” McCaffery said. “We certainly were not the other night. That was clear. So, we need to be much improved against Michigan State.”
Part of the successful trading of hip checks in the lane is physicality. Iowa’s relative youth shows up here. Physical play isn’t just rebounds and blocking out. How freely does a team attack Iowa’s defense? How much rerouting goes on, how much do the Hawkeyes disrupt flow?
“I didn’t have a feel of this team being young, but there are times when we have played like a very young team,” McCaffery said. “... Young teams don’t work together defensively as well as veteran teams, and that’s clearly been a problem.
“We’re giving up high shooting percentages too often, which puts incredible pressure on your offense to score, and we have had a number of games where we scored the ball really well, it’s just they scored more. That is part of the growth process. Shut teams down, don’t turn it over and rebound, and you’re going to give yourself a pretty good chance to win if you do that.”
The Hawkeyes have six regular-season games remaining and the Big Ten tournament. Players were asked Monday about recalibrating goals.
Competitors don’t do that. That should be the only answer you ever get when you’re talking with Big Ten basketball players.
“I’m never going to lower my goals,” Garza said. “We all came here with a dream and nothing is going to take away from that dream. ... Nothing is going to take down our dreams and goals, no matter the adversity. We’re going to keep pushing.”
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