By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa redshirt guard C.J. Fredrick has played in a lot of basketball games during his lifetime, but this past Wednesday’s game at Purdue stands out for all the wrong reasons.
“You hate looking back, but I don’t think I’ve played in a basketball game where I’ve been that embarrassed and I don’t think I’ve ever been ready to play a game like I’ve been ready to now,” Fredrick said before practice on Friday.
The Iowa players haven’t dwelled on Wednesday’s 104-68 beat-down at Purdue because what’s the point?
You flush it and move on, and that is exactly what Fredrick and his cohorts have done.
Their only focus and concern right now is Saturday’s game against Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Fredrick missed the first game against Nebraska on Jan. 7th due to a foot injury and Iowa struggled big time without him, making just 4-of-33 shots from 3-point range during a 76-70 loss in Lincoln, Neb.
Nebraska designed most of its defense to contain Iowa junior center Luka Garza, and that created some open looks on the perimeter that Iowa failed to capitalize on.
“Extremely excited,” Fredrick said about facing the Cornhuskers. “Just a lot of factors, but the way they play defense they’re going to have four guys or five guys all on Luka, so there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for open looks.
“So we’ve just got to be able to move. And when they’re all sitting in the paint, screen them in and deliver nice passes on point and knock them down this time.”
Garza scored 16 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in the first game against Nebraska, while the Cornhuskers countered with five players who scored in double figures.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery sort of dismissed the revenge factor when asked about it on Friday, but Garza is embracing that narrative.
The loss at Nebraska you could argue is worse than the Purdue loss, despite the score being a lot closer, because Nebraska is just 7-15 overall and 2-9 in the Big Ten under first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg.
“It’s not only revenge against them, we just know that how we played is just kind out of character for us at Nebraska,” Garza said. “Obviously, shooting that bad and just some defensive lapses that just really doesn’t demonstrate the kind of team that we are.
“It’s a lot of things. Just show who we are and make a statement.”
Iowa is 11-1 at home this season and has won 10 consecutive games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa has also won 25 of its last 30 home games dating back to last season.
Fran McCaffery said it’s been business as usual since the Purdue drubbing, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
McCaffery might show his emotions during the heat of the moment, but he never gets too high or too low afgter wins and losses. It’s all about staying the course for McCaffery, one practice and one game at a time.”
“It's like you play poorly, and the coach's responsibility is to go in and turn over every chair and scream at everybody,” McCaffery said. “Somehow that is miraculously going to change what just happened.
I think we all have to be more professional than that. We didn't have it. Credit them. They were better.
“So what you do, is you take a look at it, you take a look at yourself, coaches, players, what could we have done differently, what should we have done differently, what could they have done differently. If a guy plays poorly, it's not like you have to tell him. He already knows. And then you see how they respond. Part of being on the road in the Big Ten, we're dealing with ice and conditions, and getting back late, and everybody else is in the same boat, everybody else does the same thing, then you get up the next day and you go to work.”
Senior forward Ryan Kriener reportedly spoke to the players in the moments after the Purdue loss about making sure that something like that never happens again.
"I think Ryan is somebody that I trust implicitly to be a guy that will — he's not the only one — but he's one that he's got a voice in that locker room that's impactful," Fran McCaffery said. "He's respected by everybody in that locker room, so if he wants to talk, he needs to talk and say what he's got to say. I think it was received very well, and it should have been."
Iowa vs. Nebraska
When: Saturday, 5 p.m.
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
TV: Big Ten Network
Records/rankings: Nebraska is 7-15 overall and 2-9 in the Big Ten and unranked. Iowa is 16-7, 7-5 and ranked 17th in this week’s Associated Press poll.
All-time series: Iowa holds a 20-13 advantage in the series dating back to 1907. The Hawkeyes have won eight of the 14 meetings since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011. Nebraska edged Iowa in this season’s first meeting, 76-70, on Jan. 7, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Iowa owns a 14-3 advantage in games played between the two schools in Iowa City. Saturday will be Nebraska’s eighth game played in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes have won 11 of the last 12 contests in the series played in Iowa City, dating back to 1943.
Note to fans: Saturday’s game is the annual Black & Gold Spirit Game; fans are encouraged to wear black or gold clothing based on the section of their seat.