The Iowa basketball team is hurting.
A squad with the potential to do great things this season has lost its way recently. The Hawkeyes were (and really still can be) one of the best stories in college basketball.
Armed with a national ranking for months, this team was seen by the media and analysts alike as one capable of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. People looked at Iowa as a member of the cream of the crop atop the Big Ten. That was a few weeks ago.
Now, there are those questioning if the Hawkeyes can right the ship in time to remain in the field of 68 when Selection Sunday rolls around in just two weeks.
While I personally remain confident that this team will indeed be a participant in the glorious concoction that is March Madness, I will no longer dismiss the fear and trepidation being felt by portions of the Iowa fan base.
The current state of the Hawkeyes is a bit worrisome, and various criticisms are becoming somewhat warranted. Iowa has been in flux lately. However, their issues are neither impossible to correct, nor do they spell doom for the rest of this season.
Getting back on the metaphorical horse and riding it to the promise land of the NCAA Tournament can certainly be done, but it all starts today.
As Iowa welcomes Purdue to Carver Hawkeye Arena this afternoon the table is set for a statement game for the Hawkeyes. Your average run-of-the-mill “statement game” takes place against a highly ranked or high profile opponent. A statement game provides the opportunity for one team to measure itself against the prowess of another well respected program, and with a win, garner regional or national attention for the accomplishment.
This is not that type of statement game.
The Hawkeyes don’t need to measure themselves against another team. Coach Fran McCaffery and his players need to measure themselves against their own potential and capability as a team. Today’s contest is not about Purdue, it’s not about the Big Ten, and it’s not about the NCAA Tournament.
Today is all about Iowa.
I could throw out various statistics and numbers that this team could focus on as it seeks to turn around this late season slide, but numbers are unimportant to the Hawkeyes right now (Not to mention their absence in this article saves me from an arduous amount of Google-ing to research them). When Iowa takes to its home floor this afternoon the only thing that matters is for the team to live up to its own internal standards and expectations.
The Hawkeyes need the energy, focus, and enthusiasm from a guy like senior leader and Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Devyn Marble to put this team back on the path it is well capable of walking. Should Iowa win by one or by 30, the product that this team puts out on the floor needs to have that same resolve and fight against adversity that it possessed through the majority of this season. In my opinion, it won’t be very hard to tell whether or not that’s the case after just a few minutes on the court.
It’s time for Iowa to make a statement to itself, and I believe it will. Do you?