Michigan basketball forward DeShawn Sims wants to finish strong against Iowa
Why else would you feel Lickliter’s cringe through the telephone on the Big Ten teleconference Monday.
“Gosh, why do you have to bring him up,” Lickliter said at the mention of Sims’ name.
Sims has a habit of big games against Iowa. He’s averaged 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in eight games against the Hawkeyes. The last two have been even more impressive.
In the Big Ten tournament last year, Sims had 27 points in a 73-45 win over Iowa. Earlier this year on Jan. 30, the 6-foot-8 Sims had 20 points and 12 rebounds in a 60-46 win that snapped a three-game losing streak.
“I must like Iowa,” Sims said. “It’s not necessarily a matchup thing. It’s just been more about my starts and how I came out. That’s led to my success, just coming out strong and being effective.”
Sims’ theme, in some ways this Big Ten season, has been redemption and retribution for teams that beat up on Michigan earlier in his career.
“After last year, I’m definitely waiting to get a win at Iowa,” Sims said. “There were definitely some plays that we could have controlled down the stretch and I think we’ve got the hang of them now and we’re going to try (for a win) a second time.”
In terms of controlling, that is Iowa’s biggest task entering tonight. For the Hawkeyes to have a chance at winning, they must try to neutralize Sims for the first time in what will - barring a meeting in the Big Ten tournament - the last time they’ll face him.
Doing that, though, isn’t as easy as saying it.
“We at least look and say ‘OK, we have to expect Michigan to go to him,’” Lickliter said. “It just makes sense. Two games in a row now, they go to him.
“ You got to try your best to beat him to spots because if he catches it where he likes it, your hands are full.”
And if you’re Iowa, you’re likely to lose to Michigan. Again.