Oh hey, a sport where Iowa can actually pick up a win.
(NOTE: Not trying to ignore the football loss. We'll have a recap for that up soon enough. Instead, I just wanted to make sure we had a brief recap of Iowa's season-opening win in basketball last night. -- ross)
We're still in the honeymoon phase with Iowa basketball, still at the point where a 30-point win over the team ranked 331st in the most recent KenPom ratings is something kind of exciting rather than ho-hum. At some point (hopefully!), we'll reach a point where wins like this over opponents like this are routine and wholly unmemorable -- and that will be a good thing. But we're not quite there yet, and that's OK. A game like this probably wouldn't have been a 30-point in recent years. It might have been -- Iowa did beat Chicago State by 43 last year and Central Arkansas by 41 -- but Iowa has also struggled with enough bad teams in recent years that it's unwise to take anything for granted.
But yeah: Iowa won big over the Broncs. And they did it without even playing really well. Iowa made 44.9% of their shots, turned the ball over 13 times, and made fewer than 70% of their free throws (17/25, 68%). But they also controlled the game from start to finish -- Iowa took a 13-2 lead four minutes into the game and from that point on the lead never again dropped to single digits. The Broncs made a run here and there, but Iowa countered them easily. Iowa opened the game with a 15-2 run and had several other mini-runs (i.e., 10-2, 9-3, etc.) throughout the game.
Aaron White had 16 points on 6/9 shooting to lead all scorers; three other starters for Iowa (Zach McCabe, Adam Woodbury, and Roy Devyn Marble) also hit double-figures. The only starter who didn't put up double figures was Mike Gesell; according to the box score he had just 7 points and 4 assists... but his impact on the game seemed greater than that. He was in the heart of a lot of the good things Iowa did in the game and he directs the offense very well. Iowa's other big-time freshman, Adam Woodbury, had a pretty nice game in his "official" Iowa debut -- 10 points on 4/6 shooting and 3 rebounds in just 14 minutes of work. Marble hit double-figures, but needed a lot of shots to get there -- 4/12 shooting isn't pretty. But off nights happen; I don't think we need to worry too much about Marble yet. Josh Oglesby also had a rough game (4 points on 1/5 shooting); McCabe was the only Hawkeye who was doing well from outside.
Melsahn Basabe came off the bench to add 9 points and 10 rebounds and seemed to add a nice spark. (Although his 2/9 shooting performance was pretty ugly.) Iowa played its second unit together heavily last night and that's a really intriguing unit: Basabe, Eric May, Gabe Olaseni, Anthony Clemmons, and Josh Oglesby (they also played Marble instead of Oglesby a few times) are a really energetic, disruptive crew. They're going to swing some games for Iowa this year. (And when Marble replaces Oglesby in that group, they're the most athletic team Iowa has put on the court in years.)
Like so many of Iowa's non-conference games this year, it's hard to know what to take out of a lopsided win like this -- the level of competition will be much better in the Big Ten (duh). For now, let's just be appreciative of the fact that the talent level at Iowa has finally improved enough to allow Iowa to easily handle games against opponents like this. Also: there were over 14,000 people in attendance last night, for a game with a late tip-off (8pm CT) against UT Pan-American. I think we're getting mad, you guys.