It's Never Too Early to Look to Next Season: 2008 Basketball Preview

With the PTL starting, it only makes sense to take a look at what the Iowa Hawkeye basketball team is going to be bringing to the court this upcoming season.

After a disappointing 6-12 Big Ten record and 8th place finish in Todd Lickliter's first season as Iowa's head coach, the Hawks are looking to make significant strides in the right direction this year.

Iowa will say goodbye to five players, leaving six players from last year's team remaining on the roster.  Additionally, seven new faces are scheduled to suit up for the Hawks (6 scholarship players and 1 confirmed walk-on).

WHO'S GONE

  • Leading scorer, TONY FREEMAN (13.8 PPG), who is transferring to Southern Illinois for his senior year.  Had his year end interview with Lickliter and then proceeded to whine about "not being wanted" by the program.
  • JUSTIN JOHNSON, second leading scorer (11.8 PPG) and the Hawks' primary trey launcher.  JJ ended up 2nd on the single season Iowa record books for 3PM and 3PA for his work last season (93/269)
  • SETH GORNEY, who excelled at being the X factor.  By that, I mean crossing his forearms in an "X" manner.  Consistently hit the 15 ft jumper, and when motivated properly played well at times.  Needed to learn how to rebound, though.
  • KURT LOOBY, project left over from the Alford era.  One of the nicest guy you will ever meet.  For a guy who has only been playing organized basketball for 5 years or so, he did ok.  Dude could dunk, though.
  • DAN BOHALL, drank a little too much, then lost his passion for the game. 

BACK FOR ANOTHER SEASON

  • CYRUS TATE - 2008 Chris Street award winner and team captain.  Cy came on strong after the injury to Jarryd Cole last season and ended up leading the team in rebounds for the year.  He also made an insane 2/3rds of the shots he attempted last season.
  • JAKE KELLY - Stud.  Seriously.  Jake set the freshman record for 3P% (.435) last season.  He has a terrific basketball IQ, and has the skills to boot.   Love what he brings to the court.  He progressed well over the course of the season, VIDEO EVIDENCE HERE.
  • JARRYD COLE - Team Captain.  Not sure I've seen a guy like this in awhile at Iowa.  He is the epitome of the word, "hustle" and has a motor that just does not stop.  If he can recover fully from his injury (all reports thus far are awesome), he will be a force for the Hawks this season.
  • JEFF PETERSON - JPete went through a lot of growing pains last year.  He is another guy on the team who really has an overall good feel for the game.  Freeman's freestyling last year did nothing to help Peterson's game.  Hopefully another year in this system will help Jeff out.
  • JR ANGLE - JR committed early in his high school career to Alford and just didn't become the player most thought he would be.  He ended up playing a different position in college than what he did in high school (no fault of his own, blame puberty).  He has adjusted ok, but really doesn't have the game to compete consistently at the Big Ten level.
  • DAVID PALMER - A big guy who loves to hang 25 foot from the basket.  Palmer actually does have a pretty decent jump shot.  The problem is he doesn't play much D and he seems completely lost in the Lickliter system.

NEW FACES

  • MATT GATENS - Seems like it's been a decade since Matt committed to be a Hawkeye.  Matt will be a fixture for the program from the day he steps onto campus until his time is done at Iowa.  He does everything, and does it very, very well.  Truly a terrific home-grown talent.  Iowa's Mr. Basketball.
  • ANTHONY TUCKER - Silky smooth shooter out of Minnetonka, MN.  Star-Trib's Player of the Year, 4 year starter/unanimous all-conf. player.  He has the prettiest shot I have ever seen from a prep BB player, and can get his shot off at will.  He can also play the point if need be, as he has a great handle on the ball, as well.
  • DEVAN BAWINKEL (JUCO) - Originally recruited by John Beilein, so that should tell you a little bit about his game.  Devan is a very versatile guard, who recently finished off an MVP campaign at the JUCO level after he left West Virginia because of the Huggins hire.  More info here.
  • AARON FULLER - The steal of the recruiting class for Iowa.  Aaron was the Arizona player of the year, and the assistant coaches are pretty much giddy over getting him to campus.
  • JERMAIN DAVIS (JUCO) - Is he hurt?  Does he have a career-threatening illness/injury?  Is he still having migraines/allergies?  It's almost as if Iowa has their own Ferris Bueller enrolled.  Rumors have swirled about how well Jermain is, some items are fabricated, some have some merit.  Regardless, what Iowa has in Jermain is a consummate run-your-team PG and a lock-down defender.  If he is good to go this fall, don't be surprised to see Davis crack the starting lineup.
  • ANDREW BROMMER - Former Gopher recruit who decommitted only to commit to Lickliter.  Andrew didn't play at the same level of competition as Tucker up in MN, but has shown some flashes over the past few years.  I would not be surprised to see a possible redshirt here.
  • JOHN LICKLITER (last name isn't a coincidence) will walk-on to the Iowa program.

POSITION BREAKDOWN

Iowa's lack of a true center will surely make the lineup hard to put a finger on.  Cole and Tate were not on floor very often together last year, and Tate really only started getting significant PT once Cole went down with his season ending injury.  By all means, Iowa has the personnel to go to a 3, perhaps even a 4 guard lineup, this year.  As Hawk fans have come to understand with Lickliter's system, it's not who starts, it's who plays.  That said, here's the breakdown of the positions.

PG - Davis, Peterson, Lickliter
SG - Kelly, Tucker, Bawinkle
SG/SF - Gatens, JR Angle
PF - Cole, Fuller
PF/C - Tate, Palmer, Brommer

STARTING LINEUP

I think your three locks are Kelly, Gatens, and Tate.  If Cole is 100% come this fall, he will be hard to keep out of the lineup, as well.  That would leave you with the PG, which will be a toss-up between Davis and JPete.  If I had to make a call right now, I'd put the lineup as Peterson, Kelly, Gatens, Cole, and Tate.  If the Hawks go 4 guards, you're probably going to see Peterson, Kelly, Bawinkel, Gatens, and Tate.  Don't rule out Tucker, Davis, or Fuller snagging a spot either, though.

OUTLOOK

The Hawkeyes will be competing to be the best of the bottom half of the Big Ten this upcoming year.  The potential is surely there, as is the proven system.  The primary issue at hand will be how quickly the team can get familiar with each other.  Iowa has a good shot at the NIT this year, with a very, very outside chance of the NCAA if they overachieve and gel faster than most teams normally do.  One thing is for certain, you will see a much different team on the court this year.

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