IOWA CITY – After playing just one game in the previous 18 days, it’s fair to say members of the Iowa basketball team will be eager to get back on the court Tuesday night.
And this time the games will actually count for something.
The Hawkeyes host Nebraska in the Big Ten opener for both teams at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. After defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff in their final nonconference test last week, they said they’re fully prepared for the grind that lies ahead.
“We’re definitely ready,’’ said forward Aaron White, who led the Big Ten in field goal percentage and was fourth in free throw percentage during the pre-conference period. “We’ve had a great nonconference and have had great challenges both at home and on the road, and in the Bahamas.’’
White said the key for the 25th-ranked Hawkeyes (11-2) is to learn from the late-game mistakes that led to close losses to Villanova and Iowa State.
“We’re a confident bunch and I think we’re playing at a high level 1 through 11,’’ White said. “I think everyone has had big games, everyone has contributed and I think everyone is happy with the role that they’re filling on the team.
“I just think we’re in a good place and I think everyone is ready for this Big Ten season. I think everyone is looking forward to it.’’
Center Adam Woodbury said the Hawkeyes are ready to win the close ones, something they struggled to do last season.
“Late game situations are something that are really a key to our success,’’ he said. “We need to change and I think we’re striving for greatness and continuing to improve.’’
Senior guard Devyn Marble, who leads the team with an average of 15.9 points per game, said the team’s wealth of veterans and the experience it gained in those hard-fought non-conference games will pay dividends in the months to come.
“I feel like we’ve responded in a manner that I’m comfortable with going into the Big Ten’’ he said.
“I think to a man we’re hungry as far as just trying to win as many games as possible,’ Marble added. “We know we’re a good team and I feel we’re a team that can compete for the Big Ten title. That’s the goal and the mindset that we have.’’