The wait for the return of Iowa basketball is proving to be a long and painful one, although between the Prime Time League and Aaron White's upcoming excellent Russian adventure at the World University Games, there are a fair number of Iowa basketball-like game substances to occupy our attention this month. (Consider them the methadone to Iowa basketball's heroin.)
But in addition to the PTL and the WUGs, there's a bit more Iowa basketball action coming up this summer -- actual, honest-to-God Iowa hoopyball action, with the Iowa uniforms and coaches and everything. In August, Iowa's heading across the Atlantic Ocean for a series of preseason games in England and France -- and now we know one of those opponents, the London Lions.
The summer season at the Copper Box Arena will get off to a ‘slam, dunk” start with the UK’s premier basketball team, the London Lions, announcing an International match against leading US college side Iowa University on 14th August 2013.
So yeah: the Brits probably don't have a lot of expertise writing about basketball yet.
The Iowa team is one of the top college sides in the US. Players such as Aaron White, Eric May and Roy Devyn Marble are household names in their native country, typically playing to crowds of 15,400 at their home venue, the Carver-Hawkeye Arena. One Iowa squad member – Gabriel Olaseni is a native Londoner and the August match will be an opportunity for Gabriel to play in front of friends and family.
Uh... sure! Yes, absolutely! Nothing at all incorrect about those statements. (Although I really hope the Brits aren't expecting a MAYGASM or two on this trip...)
So what do we know about the London Lions? They're one of 12 teams in the British Basketball League, the top level of professional basketball in England. Last year the Lions went 13-20 and finished 8th in the BBL. They still managed to make the BBL playoffs, but their stay was short -- the best team in the league, the Jelson Holmes DMU Leicester City Riders (that's a mouthful), bounced them 2-0 in the quarterfinal round. They didn't do so well in the two peripheral competitions, the BBL Cup and the BBL Trophy, either. (Like English soccer, the English basketball season encompasses several competitions: a traditional league schedule with multiple home and away games against every other team in the league; a post-season playoff competition; a knock-out round competition between all the BBL teams; and another knock-out round competition between the BBL teams and several other UK teams.)
A few of their players went to American colleges -- Junior Williams and Orlan Jackman went to Oklahoma City University, Perry Lawson went to South Georgia Tech, and Rod Brown went to Western Michigan. Several of those guys are pretty old, too -- Lawson is 30, Williams is 36, and Brown is 34. One thing they don't have: size. Only one player on their team has a listed height taller than 6'7", Aussie center Adrien Sturt (6'11"). Hopefully that bodes well for Iowa's Twin Towers, Adam Woodbury and Gabe Olaseni, not to mention the other taller fellas on Iowa's team (like Aaron White, Zach McCabe, Jarrod Uthoff, and Kyle Meyer).
Of course, whether or not Iowa has comparable (or better) talent than the Lions or if they (seemingly) possess some significant match-up advantages may be somewhat irrelevant to this analysis. Wins in the games on Iowa's European adventure would be nice (winning is always better than losing, after all), but they're not the primary objective for this trip. The main purpose of this trip is to get a head start on the 2013-14 season and for the players to get some additional practice time with the Iowa coaches in order to develop team chemistry and integrate this year's newcomers (Peter Jok, Uthoff, Meyer) into the team. McCaffery has openly admitted ($) that he intends to use this trip to experiment with different lineups and different player combinations and that he'll likely be rotating players heavily between games. Iowa's best lineup won't play every game -- hell, their best players (such as Marble or White) likely won't play every game. If Iowa was going overseas hellbent on winning all six games on their trip, I'm guessing we'd see a healthy dose of RDM and White.
Coverage details for the games -- television, radio, online stream, etc. -- have yet to be released.