IOWA CITY, Ia. - Not only does Todd Lickliter believe his son John has earned his minutes, the Iowa Coach feels like he may have waited too long to extend them to him.
“I’m not so sure that I shouldn’t have played John earlier (in the season),” Todd Lickliter said.
That comment came in response to a question asking the coach if John was getting increased minutes because Anthony Tucker was indefinitely suspended in December. The line of inquiries was prominent during Todd Lickliter’s press conference Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
John Lickliter played 24 minutes during Saturday’s embarrassing 60-46 loss at Michigan. The redshirt freshman walk-on shot 1 of 7 from the floor, including 1 of 6 from three-point line. Prior to Tucker’s suspension, the coach’s son played very little.
“John signed up for this to try to help us, in practice, in any way he could,” Todd Lickliter said. “Playing time wasn’t anything we had really talked about. It wasn’t an expectation.
“But as he got the opportunity, he prepared and he’s done a nice job and we’ve been playing well. Up until Saturday, we had been doing a nice job.”
John Lickliter has only turned the ball over only five times in 133 minutes this season. He has struggled with his shot recently, hitting just 2 of his last 15 field goal attempts over the last for games. He was averaging just less than 14 minutes a game and the Hawkeyes are 1-3 in that stretch.
“Sometimes you play guys not only because of what they show you but also out of necessity and what hasn’t been happening with the other guys,” Todd Lickliter said. “John has a very good understanding of how to compete. The negative on him is that he’s my offspring. He’s not a good athlete. He doesn’t have good size.
“But he is able to make good plays in spite of that.”
Lickliter used John’s play at Indiana as an example of his point.
“They look like very simple plays and they may be, but he makes them. He threw it back to (Brennan) Cougill twice and Cougill makes two threes and we get up 10. It’s not a play that Cully (Payne) makes all of the time.
“Now, Cully makes plays that John can’t make. But this is a play that is good basketball sense that John has probably developed through the years of playing high-level competition.”
Todd Lickliter excused some of his son’s missed shots at Michigan because John had the ball in his hands with the shot clock running down. The attempts, therefore, weren’t ideal, the coach said.
The coach was critical of Iowa’s big men for failing to post up well and the guards missed opportunities to get it to them when they did.
“He got put in a couple of tough situations,” Todd said. “I really don’t want him at the end of the shot clock trying to create a shot. It’s not fair. It’s not a good thing. He got put in that situation a couple of times. That’s not good for John.
“But he does have a good understanding (of the game). He finds people. His assist to turnover ratio (2.40) is good. He gives you solid minutes. And he defends pretty well. His level of competitiveness is very high. And it’s not just an aggression. It’s an understanding of how to compete. I should have played him more minutes against Ohio State (John played 7) in the second half. He got more minutes at Michigan because he had some presence about him.”
Todd Lickliter said that he wants to make sure Payne is rested throughout the game so he’s fresh for the end of it.
John heard a lot of criticism from his father after the Michigan game. It’s a dynamic the father and son have worked through on the court.
“I was really hard on him on Saturday,” Todd said. “It wasn’t fair. I was hard on Cully, too. I was probably hard on all of them. It’s just part of it.
“I just think this group expects it. I know John expects it. I don’t think John gets special treatment.”
The Lickliters have been criticized on the message boards, talk radio, TV and in a column written by yours truly.
“He can take it,” Todd said of John. “We understand. He’s lived with some of this. He understands. You just have to keep things in perspective and do what you know is right; just keep doing what you know is right.”
-Coach Lickliter said he hadn’t ruled out Tucker playing Wednesday against Illinois, but he didn’t expect it to happen. Tucker has been cleared by the university after his second public intoxication arrest in a year.
“If we make bad decisions, we might eliminate our ability to control things,” Lickliter said. “If he can learn that, it’s a very valuable lesson.”
Lickliter said he did expect Tucker to have a future basketball career at Iowa.
-Wednesday’s game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena is dollar hot dog night.