Lions & Tigers & Wildcats?
When the Hawkeyes lost their last regular season game to Illinois, 66-63, I thought, or was hoping, that game was going to be the low point of the season.
I really hate it when I’m wrong.
The 67-62 loss to Northwestern last Thursday was not only the lowest point of the season, it came against a team that Iowa has beaten five straight times, the last two times by over 25 points.
Fran McCaffery has some major challenges ahead and the main ones are not even related to Iowa basketball.
I don’t have any kids, but still I couldn’t imagine finding out your 13-year-old son has a tumor.
I don’t blame Fran for not being as focused on the basketball game and not being intense as he usually is.
That still doesn’t explain how Iowa came out flat again, can’t hit any shots (they shot only 32 percent for the game, 25 percent from 3-point range) and had three starters combine for seven points.
Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury were ranked as top-100 recruits coming out of high school.
Mike shot 10 times from the floor, twice from the free throw line, scored one point and had one rebound in 29 minutes.
Adam was 0-1 from the floor, no points and no rebounds in 15 minutes.
The Hawkeye bench outscored the Wildcat bench 30-8 but that was with three players. Jarrod Uthoff had 17, Zach McCabe seven and Gabe Olaseni six.
You would think, or at least hope, that with 11 players seeing action, more than two would have good games.
Devyn Marble was the only starter that stepped up.
The 6-6 senior finished with 25 points and four assists.
This is not right.
I’m wondering if maybe the coach might want to shake things up and start Gabe for Adam, Jarrod for Melsahn and Josh Oglesby for Mike.
That probably won’t happen.
I’m going to go through the top-11 and try to break down how their seasons went.
I’ll start with the three seniors– Devyn, Mel and Zach.
Devyn is the true team leader of this team. He has scored in double figures in every Big Ten game except one, the loss against Illinois.
Devyn leads the team with 17 points per game and is probably the only Hawkeye to be able to get off a good shot almost any time.
He’s is definitely the MVP of this team.
Melsahn missed two games when he was sick and when he is on, is a great presence down low.
Mel has scored in double figures nine times this year and is averaging 7.7 points. He is also shooting 57.5 percent from the floor.
When Mel is on, he can dominate the inside blocking shots, getting rebounds and scoring. When he is off, like scoring one point against the ‘Cats, it’s not good.
Zach played real well early coming off the bench.
In Iowa’s first 11 games, Zach scored in double figures eight times.
The 6-6 inch senior hasn’t scored in double figures since.
Zach has hit 27 3-pointers and is shooting 34 percent from behind the arc. He shot 45 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.
Juniors include Aaron, Josh and Gabe.
Aaron was named third team all-Big Ten this year.
The 6-9 forward gets most of his points on driving and hustle. He also shoots 81 percent from the free throw line and has made 125 free throws which is second behind Devyn (141).
The most mysterious thing about Aaron is why he isn’t a better outside shooter, especially from 3-point land.
Aaron made the first basket of the game against the Mildcats, a 3-pointer, but has only made 8-30 (27 percent) for the season.
Gabe, in my opinion, was in the running for sixth man of the year in the Big Ten early in the season.
He has scored in double figures nine times this year and had a stretch where he scored double figures in four of six games.
Gabe brings great energy on offense and defense when he comes in and averages 1.4 blocked shots per game.
Josh was hurt before the season started and thank goodness they didn’t red shirt him.
The 6-5 junior has played in 20 games and has hit 30 3-pointers (41 percent), second to Devyn, who has 52.
Josh has scored in 17 of 20 games. He was held scoreless in his second and third game and was 0-5 against the ‘Cats.
The sophomores include Mike, Adam, Anthony and Jarrod.
Mike has started every game this year. He shot 32 percent from 3-point range as a freshman, 34 percent this year.
Mike shot 79 percent from the free throw line as a freshman, 68 percent this year. He had 89 assists and 59 turnovers last year. This year he has 142 assists and 42 turnovers.
I still can’t believe he was 0-10 from the floor last week.
Adam shot 49 percent from the floor last year. He is shooting 50 percent this year. His big improvement is from the free throw line. The big man shot 51 percent as a freshman, 71 percent this year.
You can see glimpses of greatness when he takes it inside and hits that hook shot off the glass.
Adam has only been held scoreless twice this year. Once against Minnesota (Iowa won) and last Thursday against Northwestern.
Jarrod is playing in his first season and has scored in double figures 10 of his first 17 games. Since then, he was shut out against Michigan State and Illinois but broke out for 17 against the ‘Cats.
I believe Jarrod will start the next two seasons and will be all-Big Ten by the time he is through.
Anthony Clemmons has played in 30 games this season, but his minutes have been shrinking.
The 6-1 sophomore had more than 10 minutes played in the first 14 games. In the last 16 games he has played over 10 minutes only three times.
Anthony is a good defender and is shooting 38 percent from 3-point range. He had 63 turnovers last year in 38 games. This year in 30 games he only has 28.
I’ve got a good feeling about Peter Jok.
The 6-6 freshman scored over 10 points six out of the first 11 games. His playing time has been cut back, but if he steps up his defense, he will get a lot more playing time next season.
Peter can shoot the ball and is a pretty good passer.
I wish I could tell you why this team has gotten into such a funk.
This might be to simple, but if you can’t make baskets and you are not playing team defense you are probably going to lose, unless the other team is doing the same thing.
Coach Fran has his work cut out for him.