By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - First came the gut-wrenching two-point loss to Wisconsin in football this past Saturday in Madison, Wis.
Then came the punch-in-the-gut decision by four-star center and Oskaloosa native Xavier Foster in which he announced for Iowa State over Iowa on Monday morning.
And then came the final blow on Monday night as DePaul crushed the Iowa men’s basketball team 93-78 to conclude a 48-hour period of misery for Iowa athletics.
The Blue Demons bolted to a 13-0 lead and led by as many as 25 points in the first half while improving to 4-0 on the season.
Iowa fell to 1-1 and will face Oral Roberts on Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"We tried to settle them down with the timeouts, maybe should have taken it sooner," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of DePaul's quick start. "Maybe I should have taken it at 6-0 rather than 10-0. And then we took another one shortly thereafter, but they were on fire.
"We sort of had that mindset that we were going to get it all back at once and you just can't do that. This (DePaul) team is long and athletic and they compete on the glass. And they've got a lot of different guys that can score. So I would have expected us to be a little more concentrated in our effort, in our ability to just make a run at them."
Perhaps the most alarming thing about Monday’s loss, besides the margin of defeat, was that DePaul looked vastly superior on both ends of the floor, and this is a DePaul team that is picked to finish ninth in the Big East by Athlon Sports.
DePaul also hasn’t played in the NCAA Tournament since 2004.
Iowa made some mini spurts in the second half, trimming the lead to 17 points, but it never felt like DePaul wasn’t in command.
Fans started heading for the exits during a timeout with 7 minutes, 44 seconds remaining, and with Iowa trailing 80-57.
"They kind of just took it to us a little bit," said Iowa sophomore forward Joe Wieskamp, who was held to just four points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field. "They were hitting some tough shots, and they were hitting some open shots that we weren't playing good defense on. I think that gave them a rhythm.
"And then offensively, there wasn't much flow for us. We were turning the ball over and I think we got uptight and didn't play loose like we usually do."
Iowa had no answer for DePaul’s athleticism on either end of the floor.
"They're a really good team, 4-0," Wieskamp said. "They're long, athletic. We knew when we drove they were going to collapse on us and I don't think we reacted quick enough."
When the Blue Demons weren’t making threes, they were blowing past their defender for easy baskets in transition, turning what appeared to be an even matchup on paper into a mismatch.
And while Monday’s beat-down only counts as one loss, it just felt worse due to Iowa’s lack of competitiveness.
Freshman point guard Joe Toussaint was one of the few bright spots for Iowa as he came off the bench and scored 13 points while providing energy on both ends of the floor.
Redshirt freshman guard C.J. Fredrick also had some positive moments while scoring a team high 16 points and senior center Ryan Kriener contributed 13 points off the bench, making all five of his field-goal attempts.
Junior center Luka Garza also scored in double figures with 14 points, but it wasn't nearly enough to make the game even competitive.
Senior point Jordan Bohannon also struggled against DePaul's quickness, scoring just three points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field.
Bohannon had hip surgery in late May and still is deciding on whether to play this season or take a redshirt season.
Monday’s game, which was part of the Gavitt Games, came against one of the former giants in college basketball that is now showing signs of a resurgence under head coach Dave Leitao.
DePaul won 19 games last season and finished runner-up in the CBI Tournament, which hardly compares to the Big Dance, or even to the National Invitation Tournament for that matter. But it’s better than not having made it to postseason.
It didn’t helped that Leitao was suspended for the first three games of the season for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
But that didn’t seem to have any effect on his team’s performance on Monday.
The Blue Demons made 8-of-14 3-point baskets in the first half, while Iowa shot just 2-of-8 from three in the first half, and also committed 12 turnovers.
DePaul then spend the second half protecting its lead in an arena that was nearly empty by the time the game had ended.
"I thought our guys did a realy good job of at the outset and throughout almost every portion of the game following the game plan that we talked about leading up to this game," Leitao said. "I couldn't be happier with the start."
Fran McCaffery, on the other hand, has to get his players to rebound from what was a poor performance in nearly every facet.
"I think you're always concerned when you don't play well,' McCaffery said. "I'm not concerned that this team has problems that are no fixable, It's a good team, good group of young men and we'll get better."