Iowa beat Drake on Saturday. However, they also beat them by only six points when I think most of us thought they would win by at least double-digits. Not to be alarmed, though, some of Iowa's key guys just had off days; it happens. Iowa's two best scorers were largely ineffective in the scoring column on Saturday (Uthoff due to foul trouble and Jok due to being cold from the floor) and Adam Woodbury only managed to play 12 minutes. But guys like Nicholas Baer and Mike Gesell stepped up and helped lead the team to victory. Teams have games like this, and this is when you need other players to be able to know when to take the reigns and lead the team to victory. Sometimes you just need to be happy with a win, no matter how pretty it was. And I think this is one of those games.
Four Factors in Review
First Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.00, Drake 1.00
First Half Possessions: 30
Second Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.40, Drake 1.19
Second Half Possessions: 29
Final Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.19, Drake 1.08
Final Half Possessions: 59
This was easily the slowest game of the season for the Hawkeyes. We knew Drake liked to hold the ball and run their half court offense, but this is the only game Iowa has played this season in the 50s, tempo-wise, and just the third game all year played under 70 possessions. To Iowa's credit, though, the half court offense looked fine, and they did their best to counter the tempo by answering Drake with some quick transition baskets after makes and by forcing some steals.
|2pt Near Rim
|2pt Near Rim
The Hawkeyes pretty much killed Drake inside and from three-point range, as 62 of Iowa's 70 points came either from downtown or in the paint. It was not a great day for long twos.
But Iowa's shooting performance was night and day when you break it into halves. The Hawkeyes made just 11 of their 28 field goal attempts before halftime and just 3 of their 11 tries from deep. The main issue, however, was Peter Jok's off shooting, as he went just 1-7 from the field and 0-4 from long range. If you take away Jok's struggles, the rest of the team wasn't so bad, going 10-21 and connecting on 3-7 attempts from outside. That's a 54.8% eFG% if you take away Jok's cold shooting.
In the second half, Jok only had 3 field goal attempts and the team was better for it on a day when his stroke was so cold. The second half eFG% turned up to 61% after halftime, and the Hawkeyes connected on 5 of their 10 three-point tries. Nicholas Baer was responsible for 3 of Iowa's 5 second half threes, while Mike Gesell made a living by getting to the rim on a consistent basis.
As for the Bulldogs, they were every bit as weird as they looked when I was writing the preview for them. They were insanely dependent on the three ball and they made 42% of their attempts from out there on the day, which is why they were able to hang around the entire game. Of course, they shot just 38% from inside the arc (thanks to Iowa blocking 14 shots), which is why they lost.
Reed Timmer lived up to the hype and was the catalyst for Drake all afternoon. He played 36 minutes on the day, but the two times he left the game for a couple of minutes, the Bulldog offense would go cold and Iowa would start to pull away. But every time Iowa would extend their lead, Timmer would re-enter the game and lead the charge back. He did it by constantly penetrating Iowa's defense and getting to the rim, but he also did it by knocking down the occasional three or long jumper. He was pretty unstoppable on the day.
Outside of Timmer, Kale Abrahamson's three-point shooting and a few threes from the normally defensive-minded Ore Arogundade were the main forms of offense for Drake. In a game that had only 59 possessions, the Bulldogs didn't need much more to make this a competitive game.
Outside of bad two-point shooting, here lies another of Drake's downfalls. In a 59 possession game, ball control is extremely important, as scoring opportunities are extremely limited. Not only did Iowa only turn the ball over three times all game (and zero times in the second half!), but they forced Drake into 11 turnovers. Now, 11 isn't a huge amount, and is still only 18% of 59 possessions (the NCAA average is 18.6%, for reference), but the number of turnovers wasn't necessarily the only thing that mattered. The biggest part to Iowa's turnovers in this game was the fact that they scored 18 points off of them. That is 1.64 points per possession following turnovers. Meanwhile, Drake scored 0 points off Iowa's 3 turnovers.
The Hawkeyes forced a few turnovers by jumping the passing lanes and getting out in transition for some easy dunks. But they also hit a number of threes in the possessions following Drake turnovers and those always hurt.
Obviously, turnovers are wasted possessions and wasted possessions are bad enough as it is. But when you allow the opposing team to score that often after an empty possession, it's really hard to win the game. It's actually pretty crazy Drake was within 6 points at the final whistle.
It's not surprising that rebounding is the category that Drake won. They have two 7-footers on their roster and both of them are human vacuum cleaners on the defensive glass. The Polish one (Olejniczak) is exclusively about defensive rebounds, but the Danish one (Enevold Jensen) does not discriminate; he loves all rebounds equally. The latter really did some work in his limited time on the court, but Kale Abrahamson should get credit for his 7 rebounds on the day.
Making things doubly worse for Iowa on the boards, was the fact that their own 7-footer played just 12 minutes all game. Now, Adam Woodbury isn't an elite rebounder, but he is 141st in the country on the offensive glass and not horrible on the defensive end, either. Toss in Jarrod Uthoff's early foul trouble, and you can see how Iowa's rebounding performance could be an issue with just Dom Uhl and Nicholas Baer on the court for rebounding purposes. Because of the circumstances, I am willing to discount Iowa's rebounding problems in this game.
With that being said, Drake didn't fully capitalize on their offensive rebounding advantage. In 15 second chance opportunities, they managed just 9 points or 0.6 points per second chance opportunity. Iowa, meanwhile, scored 12 points off of nine offensive rebounds, which was good for 1.3 points per second chance opportunity. The issue with Drake seemed to be two-fold. First, they had a lot of their shots near the rim blocked or redirected, so second chance looks at the hoop weren't exactly high-percentage for them. Second, six of their offensive rebounds were of the team variety, which meant they went out of bounds on Iowa. Rather than getting a second chance look from up close, they got to run their offense from scratch. In theory, this probably should have been better for them, considering how much they struggled near the rim. Instead they only managed four points from their six team rebounds. Offensive rebounds could have meant upset for Iowa, but luckily Drake couldn't capitalize. Add that to their lowly two-point shooting and turnover issues, and this is the third part of the losing trifecta for Drake.
Advantage: Drake (Technically)
This category was pretty much useless for the game at hand, which continues to feel weird after how important this factor has been for Iowa the last four years or so. Both teams ended the game with just 8 free throws attempted. Iowa did make 6 of their tries, while Drake made 5. But, again, it didn't really matter all that much.
Overall: Iowa won 2 out of 4 Factors (But really more like 3)
Again, Reed Timmer lived up to the hype. Being from Des Moines, I have a soft spot for Drake, and I sincerely hope Timmer goes on to wreck the Missouri Valley this season.
Anyway, let's talk Nicholas Baer, shall we? We already knew he could shoot threes and grab a few rebounds, but he apparently decided to add blocked shots to his arsenal on Saturday. Baer had four blocks on the year before playing Drake, and he added six more to his total against the Bulldogs. He played 30 minutes in this one, and it was not out of the ordinary to see him do something like this just about every time Drake attempted a field goal:
In addition to his block party, Baer contributed 13 points on 5-10 shooting (3-5 from long range), 7 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 assists, and 1 steal. And his one steal led to one of the above mentioned breakaway dunks:
That is defense the way Fran McCaffery likes it. No wonder he's consistently talked this Baer kid up for over a year now.
After Baer, Mike Gesell helped Iowa overcome Reed Timmer and Drake's three-point shooting by giving the Hawkeyes 17 points on an extremely efficient 7-8 shooting, including hitting both of his three-point attempts. In addition to hitting his treys, Gesell had a great game getting to the rim and finishing in traffic against the Bulldogs. 8 of Gesell's points came in the paint on the day, including this beautiful blow by slam at the end of the game:
Ah, that was simply North Carolina-esque.
Gesell also tossed in 4 assists, 3 defensive rebounds, and 1 block that led to a shot clock violation and turnover by the Bulldogs. All together, Mikey G. had a great afternoon.
Aside from those two, Jarrod Uthoff, Anthony Clemmons, and Dom Uhl provided a good amount of value for Iowa. Uthoff -- whose minutes were limited by foul trouble -- still gave the Hawkeyes 10 points and did it by scoring 8 points in the paint and 2 at the free throw line. He also added 5 blocks in just 21 minutes of play. Clemmons only shot 1-5 from the three-point line, dragging his efficiency down, but he did make 3 of his 4 two-point attempts (all of which came in the paint), to also give Iowa 10 points. And Dom Uhl didn't shoot very well, but he gave Iowa 8 rebounds (2 offensive) and played the five spot admirably against a Drake team that had a height advantage on him in the post.
Overall, it wasn't the most pretty game in the world, but at the same time, it kind of was. I mean, I ended up making a lot of vines from this game. Nicholas Baer played a magnificent game, Mike Gesell sliced up Drake's defense on the regular, and Iowa won a basketball game. No complaints here.
Next up is Tennessee Tech tomorrow night. Enjoy watching Fran McCaffery empty the bench while you still can because after tomorrow, things get real. The Hawkeyes kick off the Big Ten season with Michigan State and Purdue and Michigan State again after an interlude against Nebraska. We know this team has some real talent, but we should find out exactly how much in the coming weeks.