It's the question on every Iowa fan's mind - "why is Iowa, the team who trounced those eskimos from Ann Arbor, suddenly a below average team?" Well I'm tired of every every Dick and Jane (emphasis on Dick here) who won a participation trophy for playing in middle school trying to throw their two cents in (aren't fan forums nice?). But in all seriousness, I love reading the game threads, but the lack of basketball knowledge on them is as apparent as when you listen to half the commentators on the B1G Network. Well, as someone whose dad won a national championship coaching, whose uncles played on that national championship team, has been around basketball knowledge his whole life, and who played college athletics, here is my OPINION on why Iowa has slipped further than cars on the Phoenix freeway a few weeks ago.
First, it is not the referees fault. I repeat, IT IS NOT THE REFS FAULT! Yes, Iowa can get the short end of the proverbial stick. And yes, Michigan State is the B1G darling and gets reffed as such a good chunk of games. But the refs are not to blame for Iowa's skid.
Secondly, let's go beyond simply saying, "their defense sucks." Yes, my little sister (if I had one) could watch Iowa play recently and see that their defense is about as effective as a tofu vender at the Iowa State Fair. But why? Here's where it can get interesting and fun (if you find taking a deeper look at basketball interesting and fun . . . which I know you do). I think first and foremost, Iowa's hedgers on screens come out WAY too far. At the beginning of the season, it worked well; guards were pushed back, pressured, and forced to simply reverse the ball and reset the offense. But recently, teams have started to make an adjustment. The screener is no longer diving as much, and is starting to simply "pick and pop." With his defender hedging so hard and the original ball defender moving to recover, this leaves a guy wide open. And once he gets the ball, Iowa's defense is in scramble mode . . . never good. Plus, the fact that this would be an adjustment made by opposing coaches that seems to work makes more sense than Iowa magically beginning to play poorly for no reason. Secondly, off ball screeners tend to trail their man. This leads to the open jump shots that don't seem open if you're casually watching. Yes, as the ball goes in, Iowa has a hand in the face of the shooter, but when the shooter actually catches and releases, Iowa's defender is still scrambling to get to him . . . never good.
Third, Iowa is soft . . . like really soft . . . like soft as a baby deuce. There's a reason Uthoff didn't play tonight - he's soft. This lack of toughness leads to lots of the problems you see Iowa having. Players such as White, Uthoff, and occasionally Woody cannot finish at the rim . . . SOFT. Our guards get stripped more than an "escort" at a bachelor party . . . SOFT. And opposing players (think Hamilton from Purdue) seem to have their way and outscore their season average seemingly every game. For crying out loud, Egwu had his season average three minutes into the game tonight . . . SOFT!
Fourth, Iowa can't score in the second half. Every game during this drought, it seems Iowa scores significantly less in the second half than in the first half. Which leads me to my final point: Iowa can't finish out games. Now, this isn't news to Iowa fans, but is it possible that these second half woes are just an extension of last season's and the beginning of this season's end-of-game woes? Iowa knows they have a terrible reputation, and you can see them tighten up in close games. And then when they tighten up, you start to see the bricks, the airballs, the turnovers, the Twitter rants.
My one hope lies in looking at Wisconsin and Ohio State's seasons. Each team had dry spells as a time, including Wisconsin loosing 6 out of 7 at one point before turning it around. If these teams can turn it around, so can Iowa. Let's just hope they do it soon.