116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — Headed into its first, and a formidable, road trip, UNI men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson said it’s important to keep things simple this time of year.
Non-conference games Friday night at Richmond (1-0) and Monday night at No. 18 Virginia (1-0) await the Panthers (1-0) and Jacobson said that philosophy is important with a young, inexperienced team.
“As you go through the year and your guys gain some more experience and you see some different situations — you say, OK, now we’re going to do this,” Jacobson said. “There’s a lot of things you learn as you play games.
“(We’ll) see if we can be really good at the things we’ve worked at to this point.”
While Jacobson works to keep things simple, he acknowledged playing a more aggressive, attacking style of defense lends itself to this year’s roster. Particularly as Austin Phyfe (blood clots) remains out indefinitely.
“Without (Phyfe) — James (Betz), Cole (Henry) and (Derek Krogman) don’t have the same size and ability to defend the low block one-on-one — so now you’re doubling and we’ve done more of that in these first three games than we would’ve done for the most part last year,” Jacobson said. “The other piece is defending the ball-screen. So, (we’re) doing more with aggressive play on the ball-screen and seeing if we can get some deflections. Doubling the post with certain guys and seeing if we can get some deflections.
“It does fit this roster. It’s been good to us so far.”
Jacobson also pointed out how the Panther defense will undoubtedly face its toughest test in Friday’s matchup at Richmond.
He also shed light on where things stand with his rotation.
Henry (ankle) remains day-to-day and has not practiced this week, making it doubtful he’ll play against the Spiders. His absence makes for a starting lineup of Bowen Born, Nate Heise, Trey Campbell, Tytan Anderson and James Betz.
Coming off the bench are Landon Wolf, Michael Duax, Krogman and potentially walk-on Drew Daniel.
“(Krogman) and Drew have put in a lot of time,” Jacobson said. “Physically (Daniel) is able to do some more things, in particular defensively and in terms of rebounding. And then he’s put in so much time shooting that jump shot that we’ve all got a great deal of confidence that he’s going to make them.
“And he knows he’s in there to catch and shoot and we want him taking those shots. He does have an opportunity now — what that opportunity looks like exactly we don’t know yet.”
UNI tips off against Richmond at Robbins Center at 6 p.m. (CT) (ESPN+).