The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Media Day: Hawkeyes Defense Was To Blame For Late Season Collapse

Aaron White goes up for a dunk against Iowa State in Iowa City. (Benjamin Roberts/Iowa City Press-Citizen)
Aaron White goes up for a dunk against Iowa State in Iowa City. (Benjamin Roberts/Iowa City Press-Citizen)

The Iowa Hawkeye Men’s basketball season tips off in a month. It seems crazy, I know. If you paid any attention at all to last season, you’re aware of the fact that Iowa struggled down the stretch. Losing seven of their last eight games, which includes falling to Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Before collapsing late, Iowa was ranked in the top ten in the country and was just outside the lead in the Big Ten. What happened?

“We didn’t defend,” Iowa head basketball coach Fran McCaffery said, who his entering his fifth year as the head coach for the Hawkeyes. “We didn’t defend the way we need to defend to consistently win. That’s why we were 9-9 and not better then that. That has to be the challenge for this team.”

As frustrating as it was to watch for Hawkeye fans, it was more frustrating for the players.

“Last year was one of the most frustrating things as an athlete that I have ever been through,” junior guard Mike Gessel said. “We learned from [last year’s late season collapse] and it’s made us stronger.”

Defense definitely was an issue for the Hawkeyes late in the year. They gave up 95 and 93 points to Minnesota and Indiana respectively, couldn’t defend the three-ball against Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament; and when they needed to get that one stop late, they seemed to never get it.

“You’ll see a much tougher team this year,” Gessel said. “A team that’s going to finish out possessions on defense and really put teams away at the end.”

Senior forward Aaron White, who is Iowa’s most recognizable returnee this year, says that although he learned a lot from the collapse, he learned more from the beginning of the season.

Being ranked 10th in the country and having those expectations; I learned a lot from that. I learned how to be successful at this level.”

Now, it’s a new season for the Hawkeyes. It’s a new team with a ton of experience.

White says this year, “ we just have to stop the train from going down the wrong path.”