By Don Lund
The Hawkeye men took a couple of road trips last week.
They lost at Michigan 75-67 and then beat Northwestern, 70-65.
I didn’t have a good feeling as the Hawkeyes traveled to Michigan last week.
People were coming out of the woodwork projecting that Iowa was a Final Four team. A few even said they were a dark horse to win the national championship.
The Big Ten, which has to be one of the toughest conferences in America, is not even halfway through the season.
Plus the Hawkeyes haven’t even played Michigan State yet.
Don’t you think that Michigan, which was undefeated in the league, reads some of that hype?
Iowa was ranked 10th in the nation for the first time in 12 years… they won’t be next week.
Three stats stick out in the Hawks’ fourth loss of the season.
Iowa made only 2-10 from 3-point range, the Wolverines 8-27.
The second would be Iowa only scored eight points off the bench when they were averaging over 36, while Michigan scored 11 bench points.
The last would be the Wolverines outscored the Hawkeyes 12-4 on fast break points.
Iowa is a run-and-gun team and to be held to 67 points when they average over 86 shows how Iowa’s offense struggled or how well Michigan’s defense played.
Melsahn Basabe might have had his best first half of the season, going 7-10 from the floor with three rebounds, a block and a steal before halftime.
I thought Adam Woodbury had some good moments, going 3-3 from the floor and 2-2 from the free throw line.
Adam has got the jump hook down and when he gets within 6 feet from the basket is tough to stop.
Adam is shooting 51 percent from the floor and 76 percent from the free throw line.
When Adam was a freshman he shot 49 percent from the floor and 51 percent from the free throw line.
Iowa was 4-1 in the Big Ten coming into the game and like I said last week, the last time the Hawks started 4-1 in the conference was Tom Davis’s last season, 1998-99.
The starting lineup included senior Jess Settles (9.8 points per game), senior Jason Bauer (2.6), senior J.R. Koch (10.4), senior Kent McCausland (8.6) and sophomore Dean Oliver (11.9).
The bench included junior Guy Rucker (6.7), junior Jacob Jaacks (6.8), freshman Joey Range (7.8) and junior Ryan Luehrsmann (5.8).
This year’s team has more talent… let’s see if that produces more wins.
I’ve never been a fan of Northwestern’s slow it down game plan.
It reminds me of the Lickliter years before Fran McCaffery saved a sinking ship.
Do you remember when Iowa beat Michigan State 43-36 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 12, 2008?
I’ve never been so unexcited in a win.
Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about that anymore.
In Iowa’s 16th win of the season over the Wildcats, the Hawks dominated the boards (44-20), had more points in the paint (32-22) and the bench came through (32-13).
“I told the guys ‘We didn’t play our game at Michigan,’” said head coach McCaffery. “We were still in a position to win but we didn’t fight the way we’ve been fighting.”
Against Michigan, the bench only had eight points and Gabe Olaseni was held to two points and two rebounds.
Last Saturday against Northwestern, Gabe had his third double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Gabe is so active underneath, especially on the offensive end. When his game is on, he can get two or three put-backs every game.
Adam Woodbury added six points and six rebounds.
Coming into the game, Iowa was getting 11.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game in the center position.
Mike Gesell has got his quickness back and when he hits a 3-pointer it opens up driving lanes.
Mike also handed out six assists and leads the Big Ten.
“Mike has great court awareness and just had a spectacular game,” said coach McCaffery.
Josh Oglesby and Zach McCabe both came off the bench and each scored eight points and dished out two assists.
“That’s the thing about Zach,” said Fran. “You can run your offense through him. He can play on the perimeter and he can drive the ball. He’s a guy that can make plays at that position.”
When Iowa is hitting on all cylinders, they are tough to stop.
By the time you read this on Thursday, the Hawks will have hosted Michigan State, which had its first Big Ten loss to Michigan Saturday night.
It will be the biggest game at Carver in years… can home cooking beat the Spartans?