The Iowa basketball team is headed to the Bahamas today for a tournament to be held on the premises of Atlantis Resorts on aptly-named Paradise Island.
It’s quite a place.
The resort has 40 restaurants, 11 swimming pools and two secluded beaches. It has water parks, nightclubs, concert venues and theaters. Visitors can snorkel, scuba, snuba, swim with dolphins, frolic with sea lions and get up close and personal with sharks and stingrays.
The Hawkeyes? They’re not interested.
“I just want to go out there to play basketball,’’ Iowa senior Devyn Marble said. “I can go back to visit on my own in the future. I just want to win.’’
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery figures his team got its sightseeing fix late in the summer when it traveled to England and France for a series of games. There is no sightseeing planned for this trip in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“We’re not really interested in doing that. We did that in August,’’ McCaffery said. “We saw a lot of things. This is a business trip. Will they jump in the pool at some point? Yeah, sure they will. But the way this is set up, there’s not much time for anything else.’’
After arriving in Nassau today, the Hawkeyes will practice, have a team meal and hold some meetings. It will be more of the same on Wednesday with maybe a few minutes here and there for the players to visit with family members.
Then they play the next three days, starting with a 6 p.m. game against unbeaten Xavier on Thursday.
“Where is there any time to do anything?’’ McCaffery said. “That’s not why we’re there anyway. The fans going with us … I hope they have a great time …
“I want the players to have fun, I want them to enjoy the experience,’’ he added.
But the tight itinerary and potential long-range ramifications of the games demand that they focus almost strictly on basketball.
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The games will be played right at the Atlantis resort with the grand ballroom being converted into a temporary basketball arena.
“I think it will be pretty similar to last year when we played at Cancun,’’ McCaffery said. “I think this one will be a little bigger than that one. The crowds are going to be bigger here than they were there … A lot of these teams are going to bring fans with them.’’
In addition to Iowa and Xavier, the field also includes No. 2-ranked Kansas, Tennessee, UTEP, Wake Forest, Villanova and Southern Cal. The Hawkeyes’ second-round game on Friday will be against either Tennessee or UTEP. They wouldn’t meet Kansas until Saturday.
“It should be a great test for us,’’ said sophomore Jarrod Uthoff, who has emerged as one of the Hawkeyes’ top players in the first few weeks of the season. “Xavier, then Tennessee or UTEP, if we win those two then Kansas.’’
“Just knowing that the level of competition is going to grow, we need to play with more intensity and energy,’’ Marble added.
That's why it will be all business.
"We think we’re good,'' McCaffery said. "Let’s see how good we are and what we need to fix.’’