Motivation always is a question for major conference teams that compete in the NIT.
Entering their first-round NIT game against South Dakota, however, Iowa players and coaches say that’s not a problem.
“Since we’re in the NIT, I told the guys, we’ve got to go win it all,” said Iowa shooting guard Peter Jok, one of five finalists for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award. “While we’re trying to win it all, we’ve got to try to have fun. It’s going to be my last few games down here with the young guys, so I’m just trying to have fun with them.”
The Hawkeyes (18-14) earned a top seed in the NIT, which allows them to host up to three games in the 32-team tournament. If Iowa wins all three, it advances to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York.
South Dakota (22-11) has a similar motivation. The Coyotes were the outright Summit League champions but lost in the conference tournament, so they became an automatic NIT qualifier.
“Obviously, everybody in this situation wants to be playing in the other tournament,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “But when you look at the NIT and the quality of teams that are in it and how it’s changed really over the last few years, since the NCAA took it over, there are quality teams across the board. There are conference regular-season champions. Everybody’s got 20 wins, or they’re high-major programs that were right there with really good players. The exposure nationally is really good in terms of television.
“It’s an opportunity for us to be involved in a national tournament with a chance to win a championship against really good teams. So we’re excited about the opportunity.”
Iowa and South Dakota have played 11 times, with the Hawkeyes winning all 11.
Hawkeyes to Host NIT Game vs South Dakota https://t.co/4mL7K2bSay
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) March 13, 2017
Iowa basketball vs. South Dakota game time, details
Time: 8 p.m. CT
Date: Wednesday, March 15
Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa
Which TV channel broadcasts Iowa basketball vs. South Dakota?
How can I watch Iowa basketball vs. South Dakota online?
ESPN streams the game from its WatchESPN app and ESPN3.
How can I listen to Iowa basketball vs. South Dakota on the radio?
For Iowa basketball, 600 AM (WMT-Cedar Rapids), 1040 AM (WHO-Des Moines) and 800 AM (KXIC-Iowa City) are the flagship radio stations. Click here for other Iowa radio affiliates. For South Dakota basketball, 106.3 FM (KVHT-Yankton/Vermillion), 95.7 FM (KQSF-Sioux Falls) and 1150 AM/106.7 FM (KIMM-Rapid City) are the primary affiliates.
Who is calling the Iowa basketball vs. South Dakota game?
Kevin Brown will handle play-by-play for ESPN, with Bryndon Manzer providing analysis. Gary Dolphin handles play-by-play with analyst Bobby Hansen on the Hawkeye Sports Network. Joe Van Goor calls the action for the Coyote Sports Network.
Iowa basketball vs. South Dakota 3 keys
Contain point guard Trey Dickerson
Dickerson played nearly a full year with Iowa in 2014-15 before leaving the program in the final month. He showed promise with the Hawkeyes with his explosiveness. Dickerson, a junior, now uses those skills for the Coyotes.
As the team’s starting point guard, Dickerson averaged 10.4 points a game and led the Coyotes with 93 assists. He’s motivated in his Carver-Hawkeye Arena return, Jok said.
“He’s excited to come,” said Jok, who spoke with Dickerson after the matchup was announced. “He’s coming to win. He said he’s excited to play against us.”
“[Dickerson is] more mature with his game, and he’s played well for them,” McCaffery said. “He played one year in junior college; he was really good. He played here; it didn’t go as well as he’d hoped. He sat out a year, learned the system and has played really well for them. Been a double-figure scorer. I think he’s an older guy now and sort of figured it out. He’s mature and a valuable member of that team.”
Use height advantage but be prepared to run
South Dakota’s frontcourt consists of All-Summit League forward Tyler Flack (6-foot-7) and Trey Burch-Manning (6-6). Half of Iowa’s roster stands at least 6-7, including 6-9 starting post Tyler Cook.
But the Coyotes compensate for their lack of height with a fast-paced transition game that Iowa players compared with Indiana. That’s the same style the Hawkeyes also employ.
“They push it, they attack,” McCaffery said. “They have really good guards, they have quickness, they can make shots. They’ve got a good frontline as well. Flack is really good, and [Matt] Mooney is really good. Those guys are special. But they’re not the only guys they have. They have a winning program. They understand how to win. They share the ball, they move the ball, they compete and they have some depth. So they’re a team I have a lot of respect for.”
Get Jok involved early
When Jok knocks down shots early, he’s perhaps the nation’s most difficult shooting guard to defend. Jok, who stands 6-6 and has 1,466 career points, notched five 30-point games this season, the most among Power 5 performers. His 42 points against Memphis was the most for an Iowa player in a game since 1976. He led the Big Ten in scoring at 19.8 points per game and scored 35 against Indiana.