The Iowa Hawkeyes have a legitimate chance to get back to the NCAA tournament this season, even coming out of the supertough Big Ten. A great deal of outsider focus has fallen on the younger players brought in by third-year head coach Fran McCaffery. But current members of the team are careful to give all due praise to lone senior Eric May, who has remained with the team since the frozen-in-amber Todd Lickliter days.
Nobody really thinks May will be the leading scorer on this Hawkeyes team, but he plans to make a real impact on defense, which has long been the Achilles heel of the up-tempo attack brought in by former Siena mastermind McCaffery.
“I want to be the guy locked in on their best player,” May said. “I’m excited about it.”
Instead of trying to outscore teams, the Hawkeyes need to defend if they want to move north in the Big Ten standings.
“We can’t accept getting beat, or giving up on plays,” May said. “It all transfers over to games, and Big Ten games. It has to be consistent every single day.”
May’s level-headed approach may be crucial at times. Iowa’s talented freshmen are full of the vim and vigor of unbounded youth, which we all know vacillates between genius and idiocy on any given night. Witness the cocky responses two freshmen point guards gave when the HawkCentral blog asked them what they’ll do the first time they have a breakaway to the basket:
“I’m definitely dunking it no matter what,” Mike Gesell said. “The adrenaline will be pumping in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and I think my vertical will be twice as high at that moment.”
Fellow freshman point guard Anthony Clemmons was just as certain.
“It’s got to be a dunk,” Clemmons said. “It has to be a dunk.”
No doubt, the confidence is rather thrilling on a team that used to give Wisconsin a run for their money as the lowest-scoring team in the league. Whether it will convert into a legit shot to get back to the Big Dance is just one of the 1,000 questions we can’t wait to answer in the upcoming season.