There are probably lots of Iowa fans who, for whatever reason (and there are several), didn't watch the Iowa-Minnesota game today. Most of them probably didn't, if the Carver attendance was any indication. So they'll likely check out the box score tomorrow, see that Iowa lost 86-74, and conclude that they hung tough but were outmatched. That there were just a few too many turnovers, and if Iowa had kept them in check, boy, it would have been a close game at the final whistle.
We beg of you not to make that mistake, because this was one of the single worst Iowa games we've ever witnessed.
Misconception #1: the game was close. Jesus, no. By the time the first media timeout had come, Minnesota had already opened up a 17-4 lead with five steals, and Todd Lickliter had already called two timeouts to stop the bleeding. Minnesota would open up a 25-point lead (45-20) in the first half before an Iowa run cut it down to 17 at the break.
In the second half, Iowa got as close as 14 in the first five minutes, then Minnesota turned on the jets again, pushing the lead to 80-54 with a little over 4 minutes left. They had already tapped a keg on the bench by the time Iowa went on their late run of made shots. And how they made those shots was notable as well, as we'll see.
Misconception #2: Iowa could have limited their turnovers. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. 25 TOs wasn't surprisingly high; it was low, and it was only because Tubby Smith charitably called off the press with about 12 minutes left. Before that, Iowa was comically overmatched; they committed 18 turnovers in the first half alone, good for an otherworldly 47.4 TO% (previous estimates were 42.9%, but that was before adjusting for offensive rebounds). Yes, in the first half, Iowa committed a turnover on nearly every other possession. That's because Al Nolen was ritualistically abusing Cully Payne, even stealing the ball well before Payne could so much as get it across halfcourt. It was playground bullying, except, y'know, Payne's a starting point guard in the Big Ten.
The Hawkeyes weren't especially careful with the ball when they were unmolested either; they committed eight unforced turnovers, and the press forced them into a high-speed game they were utterly unprepared to adjust to; just as prevalent as the turnovers were horrible shots jacked up in a hurry.
So truly, it's remarkable that Iowa had 25 turnovers. It's just remarkable that it was only 25.
Misconception #3: Jarryd Cole should start. Okay, the amount of people who think this is probably waning, but he was a walking disaster for the Hawkeyes tonight. 17 minutes, 2 points, 2 fouls, 3 TO, 1 rebound, and one fit of booing from the crowd when he blew a 2-on-1 fast break in the first half. His hands are terrible and his instincts may be worse. I don't know who on the staff is tasked with teaching Cole anything about basketball, but they couldn't do any worse if they told him to take a knife out and stab the ball to death every time he got a rebound. I realize there aren't many options for Iowa at this point--it's not like David Palmer's on the bench or anything (AHEM)--but Cole is now a known quantity, and that would be "very below average." Hell, start May at the 4/5. It almost literally can't go worse.
We should mention some positives: Eric May was a dynamic force on the floor; even with his four turnovers (and honestly, it kinda felt like more than that), he was pretty much the only Hawkeye making a positive contribution in the first half. He ended up with 13 points--most of which came early--and had two rather remarkable dunks that brought the crowd and team back from their comatose states when Iowa was in danger of falling behind by 30 in the first half. We can't imagine that this is the right offense for him at all--he's best taking someone off the dribble, not passing the ball around the perimter--but hopefully Lickliter creates a role for May that more adequately takes advantage of his talents.
Also, Li'l John played 21 minutes(!) and continued to not embarrass himself. He contributed 9 points on 3-4 long-range shooting, but he was scoreless until there were fewer than 8 minutes left and Minnesota had let up the press entirely. Let's not start any "replacement for Tucker" talk just yet. Please.
And look, obviously nobody expected the Hawkeyes to win either last week's opener against Purdue or this game--even with two home games to start the BXI slate, everyone pretty well knew that 0-2 was going to happen. That said, there's been a remarkable dearth of positive signs for the rest of the season thus far. Minnesota doesn't suck or anything, but they're not great either, and the fact that it was mere benevolence on Tubby Smith that saved Iowa from losing by 40 bodes quite ill. Two BXI wins looks like a totally realistic ceiling for this team, and it's not going to turn all the way around by next season. More freshmen aren't the answer here.