By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Joe Wieskamp is starting to feel the effects of his freshman season, both mentally and physically.
“It’s a long season,” Wieskamp said before practice on Tuesday. “We’ve been grinding since I got here in June, just how much mental preparation goes into each game, focusing on the scouting report, the travel, just different things like that, the time commitment. It’s a mental toll, but I think the coaching staff has done a great job of trying to get us refocused.”
Iowa is preparing to face Wisconsin on Thursday in Madison, Wis., in what will be the 30th game of the regular season.
Wieskamp never came close to playing that many games in high school, so this all new territory to the Muscatine native.
“It’s taking a little toll,’ said Wieskamp, who also has been hampered by a sore back. “The coaches and our training staff have done a great job of trying to get me refocused and recharged because we know this is a big part of the year. So I think just these past couple days I’ve done a great job of just getting treatment.
“I got a massage last night, just doing things to try and keep my body fresh for the end of the season.”
The 6-foot-6 Wieskamp has been one of the top freshmen in the Big Ten this season while starting every game for Iowa at small forward.
He has scored in double figures in 17 games this season, including in 13 of 18 home games. He twice has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week and is currently ranked third in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 43.4 percent.
However, Wieskamp has been held to single digits in four of the last five games and he missed all five of his field-goal attempts against Maryland and was just 1-of-7 from the field against Rutgers this past Saturday.
“Obviously, there are a lot of things we need to improve upon and clean up,” Wieskamp said. “For the most part, we were getting some good shots, they just weren’t falling.”
Iowa coach Fan McCaffery gave a similar assessment of the Rutgers loss.
“We obviously didn't play well, didn't shoot it well,” McCaffery said. “I think that impacted a lot of things that happened. They shot it well, we didn't. Seemed like we were fighting, fighting, fighting and couldn't get anything going. We couldn't make any shots.”
Fatigue could have something to do with Wieskamp’s current shooting woes. But he will have had four days to prepare for the Wisconsin game, so he hopes the time off will help him recharge for the stretch drive.
Iowa will face Nebraska in the regular-season finale on Sunday in Lincoln, Neb.
“Just staying focused,” Wieskamp said when asked about the team’s attitude coming off two losses. “We’ve got two big games coming up at the end of the season and we want to get both of these, and then obviously, focus on the postseason play, the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA.
"But we’ve got to lock in on this one (against Wisconsin), especially. We’ve been struggling as of late. We’ve just got to get back to what we’ve been doing the whole season.”