Editorial Note: No, I didn't watch either of these games. No one did, unless they happened to be in attendance for either game. The only information we have to go on is that provided to us by the @IowaHoops twitter feed and the Hawkeye Sports recaps (here and here). Don't presume that this is any sort of in-depth analysis of either game. Not that games played on a preseason exhibition tour warrant such analysis anyway.
Vēnērunt, vīdērunt, vīcērunt
The Iowa Hawkeye basketball team came to London, they saw it, and then they conquered it. Or at least they conquered the London Lions, their opponent on these first two preseason exhibition games. When we found out that Iowa would be playing the London Lions back in July, I wasn't sure how overmatched they might be by Iowa. As it turns out... pretty damn overmatched. Iowa jumped out to early leads in both games and never trailed in either game (although a bog-standard Iowa shooting drought in the second quarter of today's game made things tight for a brief moment), cruising to a 102-58 win yesterday and a 107-72 win today.
Yesterday's game was played in an empty arena (or a crowd full of life-size headless Lego people, if you prefer) and was probably more of a closed-door scrimmage, really. Still, they kept score and tracked stats (better than they did today, in fact; the FIBA stats computer broke down during today's game, requiring @IowaHoops to take over stat-keeping duties as well) and a jolly good time was had by all. (Well, maybe not the Lions players.) Today's game was played before a crowd -- a capacity crowd of 7500 fans packed out the delightfully-named Copper Box Arena, in fact.
While the story of both games (and Iowa's entire London trip, in fact) was supposed to be the return of hometown boy Gabe Olaseni, the sizzling play of Peter Jok ended up stealing the show. Iowa's lone recruit in the class of 2013 picked up right where he left off during Prime Time League play this summer, scoring points like crazy. He led all scorers with 22 points (on 7/13 shooting, including 4/8 from 3-point range) in Tuesday's game and he led all scorers again today, with 18 points. He also had a team-best 8 rebounds (and 4 assists) on Tuesday and played a game-high 30 minutes. It's not clear how much better (if at all) the London Lions were than some of the PTL teams he faced, so we should certainly take the performances with some appropriate grains of salt, but on a basic level, good shooting is good shooting and Jok has been getting buckets with his smooth stroke all summer. It's going to be a lot of fun to see what he has to offer Iowa when the real games come around in November.
While Jok stole the show, London's own Gabe Olaseni didn't disappoint, either. Olaseni started both games on his return home (Josh Oglesby was the only other Iowa player to start both games) and played well. He had 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks Tuesday and followed that up with an even better 14-point performance today. (And, according to the Hawkeye Sports recaps, he had a few "thunderous dunks," as well. LONDON SLAMMING.) It's nice that Gabe was able to have a few good games on his trip home.
The other Iowa player who stood out over both games? Josh Oglesby. Oglesby had 12 points Tuesday (on 4/6 shooting from long range) and 17 points today (which included five made 3s). Yes, 27 of his 29 points came via the three-ball. OGLES3 indeed. From the sounds of @IowaHoops, they weren't all gimmes, either -- Oglesby was draining some Kingsbury-range treys in ol' Blighty:
Oglesby just drained a triple from Northampton. #Hawkeyes lead 13-8 early.— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) August 14, 2013
Obviously, doing it in these games (which are a half-step up from practices, a setting where we already know Oglesby can thrive) is one thing; we still need to see him do it during the games that matter in November, December, and beyond. Still, anything that boosts Oglesby's confidence and actually gets him shooting the ball when he has open looks is a positive.
Aside from Jok, Iowa's other newcomer this year, Wisconsin transfer Jarrod Uthoff, also had a strong debut yesterday, notching 14 points (on 7/10 shooting), 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. He had a quieter day today and played far fewer minutes, although there's no box score available for today's game, so I'm not exactly sure what numbers he posted.
With Mike Gesell sidelined with his hand injury and Roy Devyn Marble being rested quite a bit in the early part of this trip (he didn't play at all yesterday), Anthony Clemmons was tasked with running Iowa's offense, a job he seemed to do quite well. Clemmons had 9 assists (to just one turnover) yesterday, to go with 7 rebounds and 4 points. Again, without a box score, it's unclear exactly what he did today, but I'm guessing he racked up a few more assists.
As he had promised he would, Fran did switch up the starting lineups and rotations quite a bit in both games. Olaseni, Oglesby, Uthoff, Clemmons, and Woodbury started yesterday (Iowa's Land o' Giants lineup), while Olaseni, Oglesby, Marble, White, and Basabe started today. Not only did Marble, White, and Basabe not start yesterday -- they didn't even play. In his post-game comments, McCaffery indicated that he wanted to give players like Jok and Uthoff an extended run of minutes, so that they could work through mistakes rather than worry about one mistake causing them to get an early hook and a seat on the bench. I expect Marble, White, and Basabe to get more minutes when the preseason voyage heads to Paris this weekend, though; one of the goals of this trip is to see how different combinations of players work and right now we really haven't seen Marble, White, and Basabe work with guys like Jok or Uthoff yet, and I'm sure that's something Fran will want to test out. In short: don't expect the starting lineups for the games on this trip to give us any conclusive evidence about who might start Iowa's season opener in November.
Iowa heads to Paris tomorrow, where the next four games of their exhibition trip will be played. Up first is the AMW All-Stars at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin on Friday at 1:30pm CT. As with the London games, there will be no TV or radio coverage, so make sure to bookmark the @IowaHoops Twitter feed.
UPDATE! Some intrepid commenters noted that video of yesterday's game has begun showing up online.
Here's some action footage of Gabe dunking:
And here's a highlight reel from the game:
Notable bits there:
* Marble's almost full-court bounce pass at around 0:30 is just nuts.
* Oglesby puts on a very impressive long-range shooting display at #10 on that list.
* The action at #6 is just pure comedy.
Shout-out to Houghtlinsanity and Nickhawk08 for linking them and to Hoopsfix for uploading them.