2017-2018 ITH Season Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

  • 10/04/2017 12:35 pm in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, our Big Ten team previews continue with a look at Iowa.

Iowa was one of the Big Ten’s youngest teams a season ago, but the Hawkeyes still managed to finish 10-8 in the league and secure an NIT bid after graduating four starters.

Entering the 2017-18 season, Iowa returns four starters and has NCAA tournament aspirations. That goal doesn’t seem far fetched, either, as the middle of the league appears to be wide open.

The loss of Peter Jok (19.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is significant, but Iowa still boasts one of the Big Ten’s deepest rosters and a pair of promising sophomores.

Point guard Jordan Bohannon, an Iowa native, posted an assist rate of 30.4 and shot 41.6 percent on 3s last season on his way to Big Ten all-freshman honors. Bohannon made 89 3s last season – a program record for a freshman – and also dished out 175 assists. Lightly recruited as a high school player, Bohannon looks like a long-term solution at point guard in Iowa City.

Fran McCaffery will have plenty of bodies to rotate in the backcourt alongside Bohannon. Sophomore Isaiah Moss was a starter for much of last season and made 36 percent of his 3s. A pair of juniors – Brady Ellingson and Christian Williams – are also back. Ellingson made 47 percent of his 3s last season. Sophomore Maishe Dailey could also figure into the rotation after appearing in just 12 games last season.

The headliner in the frontcourt is Tyler Cook, who cracked the top 20 on our list of the league’s best players entering the season. Like Bohannon, he was on the Big Ten all-freshman team last season. The 6-foot-9 Cook is a physical presence who is an above average offensive rebounder that finishes well in the paint. Cook made close to 57 percent of his 2s last season and got to the free throw line 122 times over 34 games.

Juniors Ahmad Wagner and Nicolas Baer are also back and both are capable of playing multiple positions. Baer ranked in the top 20 in the conference in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. He also made 43.3 percent of his 3s in conference games and was the league’s sixth man of the year. Wagner averaged close to five points last season and shot 51.2 percent from the field.

Dom Uhl is also back for his senior season and sophomore Cordell Pemsl is expected to be healthy this season after offseason surgery to repair a hernia. Pemsl started 14 times last season and averaged 8.9 points and five rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game.

The Hawkeyes also welcome a pair of capable freshman in Jack Nunge, an Indiana native, and Luka Garza. The 6-foot-11 Garza was a four-star prospect in the 247Composite and Nunge was an Indiana All-Star and was a member of the Castle team that knocked off defending state champion New Albany in the regional last season.

Bottom Line: As Indiana fans might remember from last season’s game in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes have a deep roster and McCaffery isn’t afraid to utilize it. After the Hoosiers jumped out to a huge league early on, McCaffery subbed out his entire starting lineup just minutes into the contest and ended up playing 12 players in a 96-90 overtime win. Iowa should be much more balanced offensively this season with the graduation of Jok, which could be a good thing. Cook is capable of being a featured player in the post, Bohannon is a very good distributor and the Hawkeyes have several capable shooters. If Iowa takes a step forward defensively (122nd nationally last season in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency), a return to the NIT is the floor for this group.

Quotable: “The best thing and the most consistent thing is we’re going to continue to play fast. And what that does is it requires you to sub. If we play at a certain pace, you can’t play 38 minutes at that pace. Nobody can. The other thing is, I think, our defense was good at times; it wasn’t what it needed to be at times. That has to improve, and a lot of times one of the ways to make that improve is with fresh legs in the game. We have two 6-foot-11 guys coming in, so we’ve got a couple rim protectors there. That will help.” – McCaffery to Jeremiah Davis of The Gazette last April.

Filed to:

  • Arch Puddington

    Fran McCaffery is another one of these rage-a-holic coaches whom I cannot stand. I don’t know a thing about him personally, obviously, and maybe he’s a great guy off the court. But as one who has taught and coached a great deal, I am find his behavior to be unnecessary at best, and abusive at worst. I will always root against Iowa as long as he is there, and not just because they are a B1G school I want to beat.

  • sarge

    I remember that game. We got the calls for the first 5 minutes. Then with the courtside fans getting into the officials ears, we got seemingly no calls for the remainder of the game. I hate how lopsided officiating seems to be for the home teams in the big ten. It gets worse the farther into the conference slate too. Your schedule is best if you play your toughest road games first and finish at home. Don’t expect a road win against a good team in feb. or march.

  • IdahoHoosier

    I’ve played and coached with and around guys like that (angry, abusive, etc.). I’m a believer that kind of behavior is indicative of a deeper problem. And it is hard to respect them or be friends with them after you’ve seen and heard what is really in their hearts you know? Competition and power can bring out bad things in seemingly decent people.

  • Lederrick Werbermanjenson

    Bullied? What a comical and ludicrous assertion.

    Explain this Mr. High Horse. If the players really felt bullied at Iowa why are they still there? Fran’s son is going to redshirt and walk on because none of the players with small roles, that could’ve easily transferred, wanted to move on. What do you think they feel about the culture inside the program?

    You could not trace one transfer in Fran’s tenure to his behavior towards players. Not one. Get over yourself.

  • Newman

    I live in Hawkeye country, and I’m usually amused at the irrational exuberance Iowa fans display about even the slightest hint of success, both in basketball and football. But this year, it gives me no pleasure to predict a top 5 or 6 finish for the Hawkeyes.

  • pcantidote

    I’m not sure I agree with you at the college level, but would definitely agree with you as it relates to coaching younger kids. My first experiences with football in the 4th/5th grade years were absolutely ruined by jerk coaches who made it more about themselves and their egos than the kids. Practices felt more like military boot camp than anything resembling football.

  • bball at nick’s

    Ha ha I love your passion Arch!!

  • Arch Puddington

    No question, the intensity can ramp up with the age group. And as an occasional means of getting someone’s attention or injecting a bit of energy, a raised voice can be effective. But I am quite certain that even college and pro athletes can learn and be motivated without the fury.There is all kinds of good data that shows humans learn less well when they they are stressed (surprise, surprise) and better when they are relaxed and upbeat. Steve Kerr seems to do pretty well without the rage, as does Brad Stevens, many ITHers favorite coach. John Wooden wasn’t that way, nor was Dean Smith. Obviously there have been lots of rage-a-holics who succeeded, but my argument is that they won despite the rage, not because of it.

    And even if someone could prove me wrong scientifically, I would STILL be against it. Treating others poorly, whether players, refs, the media, or anyone else, is simply not acceptable me, no matter what comes from it.

  • Ole Man

    Why are you trolling the Hoosier board? Jealous because you can’t find this good an article about the Hawkeyes on any of your fan boards?

  • bball at nick’s

    As much as I like your posts, this is one of your best of all time. It’s so easy to become cynical in sports and start rationalizing abusive behavior as “tough love”. I associate this sort of “pedagogical” rage with incompetence or some deep insecurity that manifests in the belittling of others.

  • bball at nick’s

    If you have any pull with the Hawkeyes, can you please tell them their uniforms suck? LOL. I guess I can understand Fran’s anger. It’s a fashion statement!!!

  • Arch Puddington

    Well, nice of you to say. I agree with you and IdahoHoosier, behavior of the sort we are talking about often a symptom of other issues. What I would add is that I think it is sometimes just an affectation. I think that some coaches rant and rave because they think it is expected of them, or maybe even subconsciously just because they have seen others do it. And I am certain that some fans do, in fact, expect it. Right here on ITH there were frequent criticisms of CTC for not “working” the refs and not chewing his players out more forcefully. A fan base still largely conditioned by memories of a character approvingly called “the General” is bound to have those who expect a tyrannical approach to coaching. But I am not one of them, and I look forward to watching a man like Archie Miller, whom I am sure is tough as nails, lead his team without the ugliness of yesteryear.

  • Lederrick Werbermanjenson

    This does nothing to refute my claim. No player thru seven years has gone back and bad mouthed Fran for his demeanor. They didn’t in this example and it hasn’t happened at any other point.

  • Lederrick Werbermanjenson

    I like reading B1G ball content and this is a pretty good write up. I like reading on other teams as well.

  • Lederrick Werbermanjenson

    So coaches can be successful inspite of anger issues according to you.

    And the anger issues have had no effect on the players at Iowa.

    So what’s the problem. No one loses anything in this scenario.

    “I just don’t think it’s right”. So what. There is no need to be offended for people who clearly don’t think like you.

  • Sandra Wilson

    I’m not sure I understand your comment. Is it mandatory that you are an I.U. graduate or die hard fan to make comments on here? Maybe it’s just required that you agree with the opinions of the people that dominate the conversation. As far as his comments go, I agree with most of what he said. I don’t, however, think McCaffery is a good coach. His teams rarely peak at the right time and they almost never play any defense. His B1G results are terrible and his NCAA tourney performances have been pretty weak. As far as the anger and yelling goes, Geno Auriemma chews out his girls more than McCaffery does the men. He seems to get decent results and has almost no one leave his program. There is a point where the yelling and the anger is abusive. In sports, though, it’s pretty easy to rectify. Move on to another program……I think it would be much better to argue the concepts rather than criticize the person that expresses them.

  • bball at nick’s

    You must be one of those old school tough love guys. Anger and yelling NEVER serves a purpose. Yes, it achieves results, but so does coersion. Condoning it makes you complicit in the abuse.

  • pcantidote

    Big picture, I certainly agree with you. At the college level I think the raging authoritarian approach worked better decades ago but no so much now. The pampered kids just can’t handle it. It is funny though that our most iconic coach exhibited all of the traits that you are highlighting. Of course, he ultimately got fired for them too.

  • Ole Man

    No, it’s not necessary.
    However, his defense of Fran is as ludicrous as his attack of Arch’s post.
    He comes across as an Iowa fanboy rather on here for the purpose of trolling rather than a fan on here who wants to talk basketball.
    As for dominating the conversation, good luck with that on this board. LOL!
    Who do you root for, BTW?

  • Ole Man

    I can understand that.
    I think a better approach is to disagree in a nicer manner, don’t you?
    Rather than come on a board and attack.
    I noticed that you had just signed up yesterday and this was your 2nd or 3rd post.

  • Jrod

    I was just simply stating that he is a sore loser. When you have someone like that at the helm you have players that like to poke eyes.

  • Ivan Renko

    i agree! fun fact: i ran into him at the atlanta airport 2 years ago or so, and he was very nice. chatted about BIG 10 basketball for 2-3 min, and he gave me an autograph. i was a little worried that he would rip off his windbreaker and get in my face when i told him I went to IU, but luckily that didn’t happen haha

  • John D Murphy

    “good luck with that on this board”. An upvote just isn’t enough to express my admiration for this statement. That made my day.

  • John D Murphy

    Welcome. I’ve been to some other team focused sites and I think ITH does a great job.

  • HawkU

    If his players are being bullied as you say maybe you can name any of his past players who have spoken out against him regarding this matter.

    Or maybe you can name any players who have left and and said they left because they felt they were bullied.

    Or maybe you can name any current players who feel bullied. Of course you would have to provide some sort of evidence, quotes etc..

    I’m on hold and standing by. (well not really because I have cared more than I should have by posting this reply.)

  • bball at nick’s

    Oh, please, it takes common sense. Go watch a compilation of his immature tantrums on youtube. Don’t tell me that a guy with his temper tantrums doesn’t carry that behavior in some shape or form over to his players, even if in sum he is loyal, treats his players like his own, blah blah …

    Also, please don’t look for evidence of coaching abuse from the mouths of players. We all know that players (especially of the generally average kind without superstar status and backing) are at the bottom of the power structure and find themselves committed to a certain code of honor and conduct (a stupid one imo) of not criticizing their coach, even after they have left the program. Unless, of course, the issue reaches such scandalous proportions as with our very own “General”, in which case former players felt empowered by the public discourse to share the narratives of coaching abuse.

  • VanPastorMan

    Does he remind you a little of Will Ferrell?

  • Darrin

    Fran is a great coach. I don’t think he has wiped his butt and showed it to his players to show them how they are playing. I believe he is holding players that by the way are being paid(full scholarships at Iowa for years over $80,000) accountable for lackluster play they got brought into play. And if the don’t you get an ear full.

  • Darrin

    If anyone in Indiana ever bitches about a coach being a bully. The should rip down all thoughts banners at Assembly Hall. Because you had the biggest bully for a coach.

  • Arch Puddington

    Maybe the love child of Will Ferrell and Frank Martin?

  • Bert D

    McCaffery’s demeanor has changed dramatically over the past three years. Much calmer with the refs and his players. He attributes the change to his son battling (and winning) his bout with cancer.

  • bball at nick’s

    Thanks for this. I’m glad if he’s had a change of heart.