The Northern Iowa basketball team will take on Wyoming Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Panthers aren’t flying under the radar as much this season as they have in the past after they knocked off top-seeded Kansas in their last tournament run in 2010.
Coach Ben Jacobson says he doesn’t mind seeing the big three-point shot by Ali Farokhmanesh that helped downed the Jayhawks in the tournament replayed every year, but he says this team wants to create its own highlights.
“I think prior to the start of this season, over the last three or four years that’s what we’ve heard about, right. During the season, but for sure when we get to this time of year — even when we weren’t in the NCAA tournament the last four years — that shot still got played. And it’s one that gets talked about around here all the time, and it should,” Jacobson says. “And it got to the point where it’s let’s move on and let’s do our own thing.”
One of the players who may help UNI create new highlights is “Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year,” Seth Tuttle. “He’s gotten quite a bit of national attention this year, and deservedly so. But, I’ve been really impressed with how he has handled himself and how the team has been receptive to Seth getting a lot of that national attention,” Jacobson says. “That part of it has been a lot of fun for me and fun for our program obviously to have the attention, but I’ve been really impressed with how Seth has handled himself.”
The game against Wyoming is not likely to be a run-and-gun shoot out, as the Panthers stress defense, and Jacobson borrowed some of what they do from Wyoming. He says he spent a lot of time watching them play last year and the year before as they have been one of the best defensive teams in the country. Jacobson says their defensive numbers “popped off the page” and he tried to find some things to add to the Panthers’ defensive system.
Jacobson is impressed with what Wyoming does. “The thing watching them, they know exactly what they want to get done. Defensively they take a lot of stuff away from you in terms of driving it, they protect the paint,” according to Jacobson. “And they they’ve got some patience on offense. If they can get something quick, they’ll take, it, but otherwise they are not afraid to run that shot clock and get something late in the shot clock.” UNI and Wyoming tip off at 12:40 Friday afternoon, with the game televised on TBS.