Lickliter: Team is ‘starting to turn the corner’

Iowa basketball coach Todd Lickliter speaks during a news conference, March 27, 2009, in Iowa City, Iowa. Lickliter announced that players Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson, David Palmer and Jermain Davis were transferring from the school. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa basketball coach Todd Lickliter speaks during a news conference, March 27, 2009, in Iowa City, Iowa. Lickliter announced that players Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson, David Palmer and Jermain Davis were transferring from the school. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter has become an eternal optimist this off-season as he spreads his message about Hawkeye men’s basketball to the masses at statewide I-Club meetings.

Lickliter, whose Iowa teams have combined for a 28-36 record the last two years, told me last week the team is close to where he wants them to be.

“In my opinion,” Lickliter said, “We’re starting to turn the corner.”

Most people have a difficult time accepting that philosophy. Iowa lost four players — including two primary starters at guard — to transfer this off-season. Jake Kelly, a two-time Big Ten Player of the Week winner, is leaving the school for Indiana State. Jeff Peterson, who started the first 25 games at point guard, is transferring to Arkansas. Back-up guard Jermain Davis and forward David Palmer are leaving for Division II schools.

None of the players would talk openly about reasons for their transfer, but most behind the scenes seemed to disagree with Lickliter’s style of play. Whether Lickliter took note of their thoughts is undetermined, but he plans to change focus as the team enters year No. 3 in his system.

“The good thing is, for their sake, too, we can move on from the defensive aspects,” Lickliter said. “We’re incorporating a lot more offense now. I think they’ll be able to help the  new guys learn the defense.”

Among Big Ten teams, Iowa finished 10thin scoring this year at 60.2 points a game, just .1 better than Indiana. Iowa finished third in defense in allowing 59.6 points a game. But in Big Ten games, Iowa finished last in the league with 57.9 points a game, and allowed a sixth-best 62.5 points. That could be one reason why Lickliter is shifting his philosophy to offense.

“I didn’t know how long it would take, but I did know that we had to get (defense) instilled to be able to compete,”  Lickliter said. “It’s a great league, obviously. I thought we could compete in it if we were very sound defensively. I think it takes longer to probably get the foundation in with individuals in a year, then you’re going to see continued progress.

“The fun and enjoyable part is when they start to improvise a little bit for the betterment of the team. Initially you’re challenged so much that they’re trying to, defensively, almost just survive a little bit. So once they get comfortable with it and they can start to improvise in a positive way, I think that will be a real key. I don’t know if that will happen in another year or not.”

Iowa has four new scholarship players coming in this fall: incoming freshmen Eric May, Brennan Cougill, Cully Payne and junior-college transfer Devon Archie. All will compete this summer at the Prime Time League in North Liberty.

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10 Responses to Lickliter: Team is ‘starting to turn the corner’

  1. EP says:

    Nice. He said, from day one, the D would come first and the offense would follow.

    I still think we’ll be just fine in the long run.

  2. herman feckenfelder says:

    yeah, the Lickster is just swell, how anyone can believe anything about this program is beyond belief, Lickliter has yet to prove that four players leaving isn’t a major disaster,
    Next year’s Big Ten record: 6-12
    And Lickster is out the door if he doesn’t win at least nine games
    Nice fellow just not a Big Ten coach
    Come on in Ben Jacobson

  3. Jebus says:

    Turned the corner, huh? Appears like that corner is a precipice…

    When Freeman left I gave Todd the benefit of the doubt. When 4 players leave the following year a disturbing pattern is revealed. Either his charges aren’t getting his message or they’re getting it and don’t like what it says. Either way – a big problem.

    Can Barta maybe pony up some cash to send Todd to a Dale Carnegie course?

  4. scott says:

    Doc-
    I have lived in the Coralville area for 4 years and i keep hearing about Prime Time Games when the coverage comes out the next day. When are these games this summer? Could you please provide some advance notice so people like me could actually see some of these games this year?

  5. matt says:

    Anyone else ever notice if you try to post to a sports related story on the gazetteonline forum, that they NEVER show up – especially if it is negative? oh well.

    .

    Lickliter, you gave me a good hearty laugh this morning when reading your comments. “Turning the corner”? how do you figure? We’ve already gone from BAD to WORSE. What’s around that corner? Total oblivion?

    .

    I have to agree with previous posters. Losing ONE player can be attributed to bad chemistry between a coach and players, etc. But then losing FOUR more the next year? No way they are all experiencing ‘bad chemistry’. That DOES send an alarming message. At the very least it says, “DON’T come here to play!”

    .

    a prediction of 6-12 in the big ten? I think that is being generous. More like 6-24 for the whole season, or something close to that.

    .

    I must admit, I never thought anyone could do a worse job than the great steve all-fraud.

    .

    i was wrong. Time to send this guy packing. Is the former Kentucky BB coach still available? I think 20 win seasons would be welcome again in Iowa City.

  6. Carlie says:

    Wow! We really SUCK ! We are stuck with this loser for another 5 yrs thx to Barta. Pathetic!!!

  7. Carlie says:

    right on arale!!!

  8. […] Tucker averaged 20 points a game through Iowa’s first five games. He started eight of 14 games and ended up with a 10.4 scoring average, still among Iowa’s best. He’ll move from off-guard to point this season, especially after three point guards left the team following the season. […]

  9. […] the team prepares for its second of four exhibitions games in Europe, Lickliter raves about how his upcoming captains are leading the seven-member […]

  10. Tony says:

    I think Lick will bounce back. Just give him some time to get his system and philosophy in there. Those Butler teams were no fluke.

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