Thursday Quotebook: Hawkeyes Are (Slowly) Getting Healthier

CJ Fredrick is expected to return for Iowa in Friday's game at Michigan. (Jeffrey Becker/USA Today Sports)

John Bohnenkamp

The cut on the lip of Iowa center Luka Garza is healing.

So is the one on the forehead of guard Connor McCaffery.

And they are among the healthiest on Iowa's roster.

A season of injuries hasn't seemed to affect the Hawkeyes, who are 6-2 heading into Friday's Big Ten opener at Michigan.

Help may be returning, though.

Iowa guard CJ Fredrick said he plans on playing in Friday's game after not playing in Tuesday's win at Syracuse because of a bruised quadricep.

"Like I said today, I felt really good," Fredrick said. "I took a step forward."

Asked on Thursday if he'll be able to play against the Wolverines, Fredrick said, "Yeah. That's the goal."

Fredrick, who averages 11.1 points per game, started Iowa's first seven games, but said he sat out the game against Syracuse to be ready for the Big Ten openers against Michigan and Monday's home game against Minnesota.

Fredrick said the injury bothered him after the Hawkeyes got back to Iowa City in the hours after Friday's loss to San Diego State in the Las Vegas Invitational.

"It just swelled up really big," Fredrick said. "I had trouble walking. I noticed getting into my car, it really bothered me. We've been doing whatever we can to loosen it up. Just go day by day."

Asked earlier in the day about Fredrick's status, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said, "Doing better. He didn't practice yesterday. We'll see what he does today."

The Hawkeyes were down to eight scholarship players on Tuesday night, but took a 68-54 win over Syracuse.

Forward Cordell Pemsl, who missed the game with a sore back, is questionable for Friday's game.

"It's one of those things," McCaffery said. "See how he feels tomorrow."

Iowa also is without forward Jack Nunge, out for the rest of the season after tearing an ACL, and forward Patrick McCaffery, out with illness.

Patrick McCaffery update

McCaffery's son Patrick, a freshman forward, has played in just two games this season while dealing with health issues related to his treatment for thyroid cancer in 2014.

Fran McCaffery said on Thursday it's "a little early yet" to determine whether Patrick will take a medical redshirt season.

"He's hanging in there," McCaffery said. "He's a little frustrated. Would like to be playing and trying to figure this thing out, but it's going to be a slow process and a long journey. We'll get it figured out."

Patrick has been traveling with the Hawkeyes on road trips. His father makes sure he stays involved during games.

"Yeah, it's important, and I do this with all my guys that redshirt," Fran McCaffery said. "I'll go up to them at halftime, 'OK, what did you see? What did you think? If you were in the game, what would you do?' Just make sure they're thinking properly when they're sitting there. They're not just sitting there as a fan, whether it was C.J. or Nunge or Connor (McCaffery) two years ago, I want them to be at the front end processing the game plan. He's on the scout team so he kind of knows and been in all the meetings and read the scouting report so he knows what we're trying to do."

Big Big Ten

The Big Ten went 8-6 to win the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

That result didn't surprise McCaffery.

"Our league is that good," he said. "I've said that before. I think people expect me to say that being from the league, but I don't think I would've been as outspoken about it if I didn't believe it."

McCaffery pointed to Purdue's 69-40 win over defending national champion Virginia.

"We have some really good teams. I think you look at the Virginia-Purdue game. When you think about how last season ended for Purdue (an 80-75 loss to Virginia in the Elite Eight, that was a situation where they were ready for that one. You could tell right from the beginning how hard they played in that game. It was incredible to see.

"Every night you're going to go against somebody who is a really good coach and team that has really good players."