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A season on the brink

Hawk Talk

By Don Lund
Sports Writer
For the third straight season, the Iowa Hawkeyes got knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament in the first game.
I didn’t see this coming.
I also didn’t see Illinois, which came into the game shooting 36 percent from 3-point range, shooting 44 percent (10-23) against Iowa.
I also didn’t see Anthony Clemmons not scoring a point in the game. He was 0-8 from the floor.
Anthony has started 31 games this year, averages 9.3 points per game and has only been shut-out once before… a 77-66 win over Nebraska.
It didn’t help that Iowa turned the ball over 18 times (a season high) and Illinois scored 19 points off turnovers.
The Hawks, who had a height advantage, were outscored 24-20 in the paint.
I thought that was a cheap call against Peter Jok, when he and Kendrick Nunn got called for a double technical.
Peter got elbowed in the throat and he pushed Kendrick.
That had been going on all game, said Peter.
Pete shouldn’t have retaliated, but he also shouldn’t have gotten teed up, which was his fifth foul.
Pete was having a great game with 29 points, as was Jarrod Uthoff, who finished with 21, but the other three starters combined for five points (2-20).
Nic Baer came off the bench, scored a layup plus one and tied the game at 66 with 1:40 left, but after Illinois scored to take a 68-66 lead, the Hawks missed a jump shot and turned the ball over twice in the last 15 seconds.
This is another tough one to swallow.
I think the thing that bothered me the most is the Hawkeyes didn’t play with a since of urgency until late in the game.
Iowa was ranked as high as third in the nation, were leading the Big Ten and were looking at a No. 1 seed in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament.
If you look at the big picture, the Hawkeyes were picked as low as eighth or ninth in the Big Ten before the season began.
Think about this Hawk fans… the two teams (Michigan State and Purdue) in the Big Ten championship… Iowa beat twice.
The Spartans were ranked No. 1 in the nation when Iowa beat them the first time.
Now they will be seeded Seventh playing on Friday against Temple at Brooklyn, N.Y., in the Big Dance.
Temple finished 21-10, 14-4 in its conference.
The Owls are led by senior Quenton DeCosey, a 6-5 guard who averaged 15.6 points and had a team-high 41 steals.
Their leading rebounder is Jaylen Bond, a 6-8 senior forward who averaged 8.3 rebounds per game.
Temple shoots 34 percent from 3-point range, averages 68.7 points and 36.8 rebounds per game.
Iowa shoots 31 percent from 3-point range, averages 78.1 points and 38.4 rebounds per game.
I talked to Anthony, Jarrod, Adam Woodbury and Peter Sunday after the NCAA selection show and all four seemed confident and ready to finish the season strong.
“We know what it is all about,” said Jarrod. “It’s about winning games. It all starts with that first game. Our goal is to win the whole thing.”
The Hawks were led this year by senior Jarrod Uthoff and junior Peter Jok.
Jarrod became the first Hawkeye since Andre Woolridge (1997) to be named unanimous First Team All-Big Ten. He was also named third team All-American by USA Today.
The big guy from Marengo was also the Male Academic All-American of the Year.
Jarrod led the Hawks in scoring (18.9), blocked shots (83), minutes played (966) and was second in rebounds (198).
The 6-9 senior is just the third Hawkeye in school history to score over 1,000 points with over 150 blocked shots.
The other two are Acie Earl and Greg Stokes.
Jarrod is the only player from a Power 5 conference with 580-plus points, 190-plus rebounds and 80-plus blocks.
Jarrod was such a tough matchup because he can shoot the three from NBA range and he is so long that he creates a matchup problem on offense and defense.
Peter was Second Team All-Big Ten and averaged 16.3 points per game.
Pete led the team in 3-point shooting (41 percent) and free throw shooting (86 percent). He has made his last 26 free throws.
The 6-6 junior from Des Moines led the team in scoring 12 times this year and scored over 20 points 11 times.
Against Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament, he scored 15 straight points for the Hawks which kept them in the game.
When Pete gets in a zone, like he was against the Fighting Illini, he is hard to defend.
Adam Woodbury is the first Hawkeye since Reggie Evans to average 10 rebounds in league play.
Coach Fran McCaffery said before the season that he thought that Adam would have a chance to be a solid rebounder.
Adam averaged 25 minutes per game this year and 8.5 rebounds for the season.
Last year, while splitting time with Gabe Olaseni, he averaged 20 minutes and 5.2 rebounds.
I thought Woody would be more of an offensive threat this year. He averaged 4.9 as a freshman, 5.7 as a sophomore, 6.6 as a junior and 7.7 this year.
Adam does do things that don’t show up on the stat sheet like set screens, make good passes and help out on defense.
Mike Gesell led the team in assists with 194. That breaks Andre Woolridge’s single-season record of 193.
Mike averaged over 25 points per game in his final two years in high school.
At Iowa, Mike has averaged eight points per game in his four seasons and has started 128 out of 132 games.
I would have liked to see Mike score a little more, but he did have some pretty good scorers around him. He played decent defense and ran the show in his four years as a Hawkeye.
Anthony Clemmons started every game this year, was second in assists (111) and averaged nine points per game.
The only bad game he had that I can remember was the last one against Illinois.
I give Anthony credit for sticking it out. He could have transferred after his sophomore season when he didn’t start one game, averaged 2.4 points and only 11 minutes per game.
The bench would start with Dominique Uhl.
Dom had one start, averaged six points and led the team in 3-point percentage (46 percent). He shot 50 percent from behind the arc during the Big Ten season.
Dom struggled in the last eight games, scoring only 21 points (2.6 average).
The Hawks went 2-6 in those last eight games.
I always liked the energy Ahmad Wagner brought to the Hawks.
The 6-7, 225-pound forward shot 67 percent from the floor, which led the team.
There were 11 games in which he didn’t miss a shot.
It would be nice if Ahmad would develop an outside shot, but rebounding, defense and making close shots are important.
Ahmad struggled against Illinois, playing six minutes and having no stats.
That is hard to imagine.
Nic Baer showed signs of being a solid contributor.
The 6-7 walk-on from Bettendorf played in every game and ranked second on the team with 19 blocked shots.
Nic also has a knack of being in the right place at the right time.
He hustles, dives for loose balls and shot 41 percent from 3-point range.
Christian Williams has earned some playing time in the last three games.
The 6-6 freshman from Decatur, Ill., scored eight points and had two steals against Indiana. He also had three points against Michigan.
Christian is 7-9 (78 percent) from the free throw line.
Brady Ellingson has played in 26 games but hasn’t seen the court since the Wisconsin game on March 24.
Brady saw action in 26 games this year, but didn’t score in 10 of the last 12 games he played.
A solid 3-point shooter in high school (he shot 48 percent as a junior from behind the arc), Brady was 12-44 (27 percent) this season.