By John Bohnenkamp
Iowa is scheduled to play Thursday at home against Indiana, and then won’t play again until a Jan. 29 game at Illinois.
But the Big Ten men’s basketball schedule is always changing in this season in the COVID-19 pandemic, and so the Hawkeyes could get another game in between.
” I think there’s a possibility games could be changed, moved, added. I do,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said on Wednesday. “But I don’t have any definitive answers for you as to what.”
The Hawkeyes were supposed to play at home against Nebraska on Sunday, but that game was postponed because of COVID-19 issues with the Huskers — head coach Fred Hoiberg was among the positive tests within the program.
It was the second Big Ten game the Hawkeyes have had postponed — they also lost the Jan. 14 home game against Michigan State.
It’s not an easy task to reschedule games, McCaffery said.
“It’s probably doable, but probably a little more complicated than it might appear,” McCaffery said. “It’s obviously new territory for all of us, and you’re working with a lot of different (television) networks. And then you’ve got to find out when those teams can play. So I think it’s just going to be movable parts, that’s all.”
McCaffery said Iowa athletics director Gary Barta has been in contact with Big Ten officials about the scheduling.
“It’s a little more complicated than it would appear,” McCaffery said. “This isn’t a summer league where you’re just moving games around. This is major (TV) networks that want particular teams on their network, and they figure that out at the front end, and now everything has to be changed with what other programming is going on.”
McCaffery said there are a number of contingency plans within place in the Big Ten, including playing a second game against opponents that the Hawkeyes play just once in the conference this season.
“We kind of built in a two-game cushion at minimum that if we had games canceled in the nonconference we were going to play two additional Big Ten opponents,” McCaffery said. “It wouldn’t count in the league standings. That was decided. But of course we got all of our nonconference games in, but we still could play some of our one-plays in place of another team potentially and play that team twice.”
Nebraska and Michigan State are still on pause, so it’s unclear when, or if, those games will be rescheduled.
“Obviously safety is at the front end of it,” McCaffery said. “When will Nebraska’s team be able to show up, when is Fred going to feel better. Same thing with (Michigan State coach) Tom (Izzo) and his program.”
The Hawkeyes, who are tied for the Big Ten lead and are on a five-game winning streak, have been able to avoid COVID-19 issues within their program since the season began.
“I think the mentality has been solid for the whole team,” said senior guard Jordan Bohannon. “We’ve been sticking together, not going outside our social circles, as you could say. We’ve been really smart on who we’ve been around, and willing to sacrifice a lot to explore some great adventures for this season. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the guys in the locker room because we’ve been a good job of being smart and knowing who we’re around.
“It’s been tough, not knowing when you’re going to play or who you’re going to play. I guess you could say I told you guys so back in the summer, because I knew this was going to happen. My mindset of knowing this could happen at some point has helped me individually. And I think the whole team kind of figured this was going to happen as well. Whoever is thrown out in front of us, we’ll be ready to play.”
If there are no games rescheduled, or no teams added, the Hawkeyes will have played just two games in a 19-day span before playing at Illinois.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ll just tell our team, let’s get ready for Indiana, and then we’ll deal with the next game on our schedule,” McCaffery said.
Photo: Iowa’s Patrick McCaffery goes in for a dunk during warmups before Sunday’s game at Northwestern. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)