Iowa fells some Sycamores and Fran teaches us all to count.
I realize this is a little late in the day and that I don't have much to add to Ross's fine recap, but, well, basically I wanted to share the first page of my new children's counting book with you all. Also, here are a few notes.
- For a while there, it felt like the Sycamores had the talent and execution to beat the Hawkeyes, but then, ever so subtly, their focus and execution faded, and the game was out of reach. I think that Indiana State did, in fact, have the talent and execution to beat Iowa -- for about 20 minutes. After that, the tremendous energetic expense of their active zone defense and rebounding against the bigger Hawkeyes took its toll, and the mistakes started to pile up. Iowa proved that they were not only a deeper team, but a more athletic team in a deeper, strength-and-conditioning sense.
- Devyn Marble was tremendous, once again, and was the one source of movement the Hawks had on offense. He will need to shoulder a heavy load, because...
- Something is going on with Anthony Clemmons' head. Three turnovers in five minutes is not good. He seems to be thinking really hard whenever he has the ball in his hand, to the point that he doesn't just make the easy pass if nothing is available. It may just be a matter of time for him until the game slows down enough that he can play un-self-consciously. Right now, he looks perpetually unnerved out there.
- Aaron White had a beautiful game. With Iowa's size advantages at center and power forward, White was free to come in from the three spot and wreak havoc on the boards and in transition. Dan Dakich mentioned on the broadcast last night that White has great hands, and he really showed that against the Sycamores. He has an almost Kevin Love-like knack for converging on rebounds, timing the jump, and then suctioning the ball in like a frog snaring a fly.
- Gabe Olaseni had maybe my two favorite plays of the night; first, when he got stuck defending two men at the basket, and managed to force the first guy to give it up and then block the other guy at the rim. A very impressive, athletic play, but it also showed a great sense of timing and spacing; the second was when he received an unexpected outlet pass on the fast break, didn't panic, calmly passed it off to the wing, then sprinted to the basket and slammed home an alley-oop. He is a fun player to watch, and getting better every game.
- Zach McCabe, too, had a quality game, sinking two threes to put the game out of reach.
- With this win, Iowa becomes the highest-ranked team by Ken Pomeroy's ratings left in the NIT. UMass getting knocked out by Stony Brook wasn't actually that big of a surprise by his ratings -- they rated as the 61st best team going into the game, while UMass ranked 83rd. The bad news is that the Seawolves aren't chumps, and have a good deal of size to throw at the Hawks. The good news is that Iowa is probably the better team, and will be playing at home.