The Iowa Hawkeyes will play their first game Thursday night since entering the top 10. Coach Fran McCaffery says, while he’s happy his players are getting more attention, they aren’t spending much time patting themselves on the back over the number-9 ranking.
“I think most of us would say rankings at this time of year are incredibly meaningless,” McCaffery said. “I mean that sincerely. It just doesn’t mean a thing.” The boost in the rankings brings more national exposure for the program and requests from the media for individual interviews with players.
McCaffery says while his players have earned that recognition, he’s trying to keep their focus on the Hawkeyes’ next opponent — Rutgers. “At the end of the season, we’ll look and see, ‘okay where are we?’ Because that will define seeding for the NCAA Tournament. But if we don’t take care of business between now and then, it won’t matter,” McCaffery said.
One of the keys to the Hawkeyes’ 5-0 start to the conference season has been the play of Peter Jok. The junior from West Des Moines Valley was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday after he averaged 19.5 points in wins over Michigan State and Michigan. “He’s improved in so many areas,” McCaffery said. “He couldn’t guard like he does now when he first got here. He didn’t have the stamina that he has now, he wasn’t as strong. He’s impacting the game at both ends of the floor.”
Iowa (14-3, 5-0) and Rutgers (6-13, 0-6) tipoff at 6:00 p.m. Thursday at the Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, New Jersey.