January 2015

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61 "It was special last year because it was my first one, and it's even more special this year to leave with a win in front of a lot of friends and family." e addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the league gives the Big Ten more depth. It also means a more unbalanced schedule. Now, each team will play five teams twice, four teams once at home, and four teams once on the road. Junior Mike Gesell knows the importance of each game mov- ing forward. "You won't be playing as many teams twice, so it magnifies each game because you don't get a second chance at some of those teams." e last two seasons under McCaffery, Iowa has posted first-division finishes, placing sixth in the challenging 12-team league. In order to compete for a Big Ten championship and finish in the upper division again, it's imperative to defend the home court, but also have some success on the road. "We want to defend our home games, but also go out on the road with the mindset of playing with a swagger and confidence to be able to win away from home," said sophomore Peter Jok. "You have to have a lot of mental toughness," said Gesell of playing on the road in the Big Ten. "You have to keep your composure through the other team's runs. When the crowd gets loud you have to stick to your game plan and with each other." T he University of Iowa men's basketball team got off to an impressive start in Big Ten Conference play Dec. 30 when it posted a 71-65 win at No. 18 Ohio State. Couple the Ohio State triumph with the Hawkeyes' 60-55 victory at No. 12 North Carolina, and Iowa became the first school in the country to register two road victories over ranked opponents this season. As Iowa begins the two-month Big Ten marathon, both head coach Fran McCaffery and the players know what to expect. "Top-to-bottom, this league is going to be brutal," said McCaf- fery. "Every team has great play- ers and coaches and you have to prepare and be focused for each game." Senior Aaron White has been through the confer- ence slate three previous times and looks forward to his last go-around. "I am trying to take each game at a time, whether it's home or away, and realize that this is probably going to be the last time I play these specific teams. It's the best league in terms of game-planning and preparing for each team, because everyone knows each other inside and out. It's the ultimate chal- lenge, especially on the road." Every win is big, but for White, winning one last time in Columbus was extra special for the Ohio native. JANUARY SCHEDULE Jan. 8 vs. Michigan State Jan. 13 at Minnesota Jan. 17 Ohio State Jan. 20 at Wisconsin Jan. 24 at Purdue Jan. 31 Wisconsin

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