Last night's contest against Maryland was a game of firsts for this Iowa team. For the first time this year:
- Jarrod Uthoff failed to make at least 2 three-pointers in a game. (He shot 0-3.)
- Iowa, as a team, failed to reach double-digit assists for an entire game.
- The Hawkeyes finished a game with more turnovers than assists.
- The Iowa offense failed to average at least a point per possession for an entire game.
- Iowa failed to win even one of the four factors over an entire game.
Based on that list of first-time events, you would think Iowa got blown out at the Xfinity Center the way the Terps did at Carver-Hawkeye last season. But, no. Instead, Iowa lost by a whopping 6 points.
This Iowa team is good and they are tough. This game never seemed to be in their favor, but every time they were on the ropes, every time Maryland hit a big shot or Iowa threw up an air ball and the crowd started jeering, the Hawkeyes never gave up. Maryland had plenty of opportunities to extend their lead and pull away from Iowa on their home court, but every time it looked like things could get away from Iowa, they calmly responded by hitting enough shots to keep it a one-possession game or to even take the lead briefly. There were nine lead changes Thursday night, in case you wanted to put a number on how competitive this game was.
Despite one of their worst shooting performances of the year in a hostile road environment, Iowa found a way to battle and lose valiantly. This program has no more room for moral victories -- at least, not this year with the amount of veterans this team has. But this was not a bad loss. This was a road game against a tough opponent where Iowa was considered the underdog. Would a win have been better? Undoubtedly. Is a loss the end of the world? Absolutely not. Iowa is still in first place in the Big Ten, and they are already through the most difficult part of the schedule. They have a leg up on the competition right now. They can't afford to get complacent, but that 7-0 start to the conference season gave them some room for error. And last night doesn't change anything.
Four Factors in Review
First Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.05, Maryland 1.23
First Half Possessions: 33
Second Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 0.90, Maryland 0.90
Second Half Possessions: 37
Total Points Per Possession: Iowa 0.98, Maryland 1.07
Total Possessions: 70
|Iowa||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3Pt FG||FT|
|Maryland||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3Pt FG||FT|
Jarrod Uthoff's performance was the biggest drag on Iowa's overall shooting. If you take his 2-13 from the field out of the equation, the rest of the team shot 50% (25-50) for the game. That doesn't totally fix everything, though, as the rest of the team was still 5-21 (23.8%) from three-point range without Uthoff's 0-3 shooting from outside. And that was Iowa's main problem. When they got the ball inside, they actually converted pretty well and even drew a decent amount of fouls in the first half. But when they were forced to shoot away from the rim -- something they have done very well at all year -- they failed. Part of that was Maryland playing excellent defense, but Iowa also missed a lot of open shots. That doesn't happen very often this year, but we knew it had to happen at some point. Weird Under Armour ball aside, there are no excuses. Off nights happen, and based on the amount of awkward looking releases and shots, this was an off night.
Maryland, meanwhile, also had a similar issue, although they were the beneficiary of a hot-shooting first half that ultimately earned them their margin of victory. Their six first half three-pointers and 64.5% eFG% before halftime were enough for them to build a 6-point lead that they ultimately wouldn't give up in the second half. But while everything was falling in the first half, things went sideways on offense for the Terps in the second. They shot 0-10 from three-point range and instead had to start getting their points from inside the arc. Mainly in the paint, as they scored 16 of their 33 second half points near the rim and another 15 at the free throw line. Adam Woodbury's defense made a difference all game long, but nowhere was it more missed than in the second half when Maryland's bigs were grabbing offensive rebounds, scoring in the paint, and Rasheed Sulaimon was seemingly driving to the rim with ease. I'll get into specifics later, but, essentially, Maryland's hot shooting led them to a 6-point lead that they were able to maintain in the second half largely in part because Adam Woodbury was missing from the painted area on defense.
This game further goes to show just how important shooting is, especially to this year's Iowa team. They are now 0-3 when they lose the shooting factor this season, and 16-1 when winning it.
Neither team lost the ball all that much in this game, but this was an important category because Maryland has been so bad with turnovers this season that it felt like Iowa needed to really take advantage of this area in order to come away with a win. Of course, that didn't happen.
Maryland only lost the ball 10 times all game long, while Iowa lost it 11, and both teams had 10 points off of each other's mishaps. Neither of those totals is very big for a 70 possession game, but when everything is this close, every turnover matters. Iowa needed this factor to help offset Maryland's first half shooting, but they couldn't win it for just the fifth time this season. Iowa is now 1-4 in games where they don't win the turnover battle.
Neither of these teams came into the game particularly strong in the rebounding category, but we hoped that Iowa might be able to win this battle since their offensive rebounding rate had possibly been skewed a bit in conference play by having to face Michigan State and Purdue four times already. Well, that answer proved to be "yes and no." The positive was that Iowa held Maryland to rebounding just 19% of their misses when Woodbury was in the game. However, in those 14 minutes he wasn't in the game, that rate jumped to 40%.
Credit to Iowa, however, as they did limit Maryland to just 8 second chance points off of 10 offensive rebounds. But in a game that was this close, offensive rebounds not only give the opportunity for more points, they also extend possessions and take time off the clock. Nowhere was this more apparent than the second half, and the possession where Rasheed Sulaimon made a layup, but missed his free throw to finish an and-one. Maryland got that offensive rebound and had the chance to add more points to that possession. That possession lasted from about 5:11 to 4:34 because Maryland grabbed three offensive rebounds without Woodbury in the game. That possession ultimately ended in a foul, where Damonte Dodd capitalized on one of two free throws at the line, adding extra points to the extra time that had run off the clock.
Possessions like that were the clearest sign of Adam Woodbury's importance on the floor. He came back into the game after that debacle, but, unfortunately, he wasn't able to stay on the court very long.
Free Throw Rate
Free throws were important for Iowa in the first half, as they helped them stay within six of Maryland. Iowa did shoot the ball well from two-point range in the first half, but Maryland's six first half threes were too much for Iowa to keep up with from the floor. Luckily, Jarrod Uthoff -- when he wasn't settling for fadeaway jumpers -- and Anthony Clemmons tried to get the offense going by attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. The problem was that Iowa made just 5 of their 9 first half free ones. If they had been able to make a few more, that halftime deficit may have only been one possession, instead of two.
Meanwhile, Maryland's second half was the best of both teams when it came to getting to the line. Of course, it was inflated, as 12 of their 22 second half attempts from the line came in the final minute when Iowa fouled them intentionally. Still, their 10 free throw attempts up to that point was still higher than Iowa's nine first half free throw attempts and six second half attempts. And, more importantly, the Terrapins made 16 of their 23 free throws (69%) on the night, while Iowa made just 9 of 15 (60%).
Overall: Iowa Won 0 of 4 Factors
Despite what the adjusted game score chart says, Adam Woodbury was Iowa's player of the game. Anthony Clemmons played great, but Woody's number is stunted by the fact that he had five fouls -- two of which were questionable.
For the 26 minutes he was on the court, Adam Woodbury put together his third double-double in a row. The Rutgers one we shrugged off because it was Rutgers. But the last two, coming against ranked Purdue and Maryland, in just 23 and 26 minutes due to playing with foul trouble... that should make you take notice. However, it wasn't just Woodbury's 11 points and 3 offensive rebounds that were important. It was also his defense.
The only things that show up in the box score are 7 defensive rebounds and 1 steal. And those were important, no doubt. But Iowa's inside presence on the defensive end felt different when Woodbury was on the bench compared to when he was in the game. So I decided to comb through the play-by-play data and calculate Iowa's defensive numbers with and without him.
|Iowa Defense||Points in Paint/Minute Allowed||Maryland 2pt FG%||Points/Possession Allowed||Maryland Off. Rebound%|
|1st Half With Woodbury||0.80||66.7%||1.33||20.0%|
|1st Half Without Woodbury||1.20||85.7%||1.00||25.0%|
|2nd Half With Woodbury||0.36||28.6%||0.43||18.2%|
|2nd Half Without Woodbury||1.33||70.0%||1.13||45.5%|
|Total With Woodbury||0.62||52.6%||1.00||19.0%|
|Total Without Woodbury||1.29||76.5%||1.09||40.0%|
When Woodbury was in the game, Iowa's defense looked better. The only exception came in the first half, where Maryland scored 1.33 points per possession (PPP) against Iowa's defense when he was out there. That was largely due to the Terps hitting 5 of their 6 three-pointers during that time, and cannot be attributed to Woodbury's defense. Once Maryland's outside shot cooled down, you can see that Iowa's defense was better with him on the court. The picture becomes crystal clear in the second half when you see that Iowa held Maryland to just 0.43 PPP when Woody was out there. When he went to the bench that number ballooned to 1.13.
This is not the first time that we've encountered this issue, either. For as well as Iowa's reserves in the post have played for most of the year, Woodbury's presence has been sorely missed in the middle against teams like Dayton and Rutgers. At this point, it should be blatantly obvious that he is an integral part of why this team is so good. It just takes some further examination at times, because his contributions don't always make themselves apparent in the context of a basic box score.
Outside of Woodbury, Anthony Clemmons helped Iowa out on the offensive end of the ball. He scored 11 points by making 4 of his 7 field goal attempts, including a couple big threes that either tied the game or cut the Maryland lead to one. He also helped make up for the issues Mike Gesell had distributing the ball, as he handed out four assists. What I like the most about Clemmons this season is that he is showing the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim more often. This was helpful when Iowa was struggling for points in this game, as his aggressiveness usually led to a layup or a trip to the free throw line.
Peter Jok also had a decent game, but it didn't come easy again. Defenders like Jake Layman made him work for every single shot he took. He made 2 of Iowa's 5 threes in this game, and shot 5-12 from the floor. His 14 points was tops on the team, and much needed with Uthoff struggling on the offensive end.
After those three guys, everyone else played bad or inconsistently. Jarrod Uthoff looked rattled at times in this game, and settled for way too many fadeaway jumpers. I get that he's the best shooter on the team and he can make those, but there should be a limit on how many he takes -- and I'm pretty sure he surpassed that limit last night. He was trying to get a shot to fall in order to find a rhythm, but that turnaround fadeaway probably wasn't the best option. If the shot's not there, he shouldn't force it. He should get aggressive and drive the lane or pass it off to an open teammate. The one thing Uthoff did do well in this game was crash the glass. He had 10 rebounds and somehow managed to come up one point shy of a double-double even with how awful he looked at times. He's still Iowa's best player and probably the best in the Big Ten. Off nights happen, but he needs to rebound from this and go to work against the lesser defenses coming up on the schedule.
As for Mike Gesell, he was not as good as his adjusted game score indicates. Six of his points came in the final 18 seconds when Maryland was avoiding fouling and trying to prevent a three-pointer. Otherwise, for 39 minutes of game time, he managed just six points, one assist, and one steal. More importantly, he was responsible for 4 of Iowa's 11 turnovers against Maryland. I don't know if he's still dealing with injuries (he got off the floor pretty well on his dunk) or if it was just one of those games, but something was off. I haven't seen him throw errant passes like he did last night since at least his sophomore or maybe even freshman year. Of course, his teammates not being able to hit water from a boat from outside didn't help his assist total, either. So not everything can be placed directly on him. But when Uthoff is struggling and Jok is having to work for every single point he gets, Gesell needs to be a guy that Iowa can go to for points. As of late, Clemmons has been filling that role well. But any extra offense that Gesell could give Iowa in situations like last night would be much welcomed, and almost expected from a senior point guard.
Finally, the bench did not live up to the hype against Maryland. Dom Uhl showed up early, by stretching the defense and hitting a three. He also had some nice plays getting to the basket and finishing in traffic. But 7 of his 9 points came in the first half, and he didn't do much of anything in the second half. Ahmad Wagner was the same, as he had a nice steal and finish in the first half, but didn't play much in the second half. Brady Ellingson went back to being quiet after a nice game against Purdue. And Nicholas Baer had a nice block, but managed to go 0-3 on his three-point shots (some of which were wide open) and rack up two fouls in just seven minutes of playing time. That's hard to do, and that's why his adjusted game score per minute is almost off the charts in the wrong direction.
But this is a game to flush and forget. Iowa played what is likely their worst game of the season and still managed to be within striking distance of a ranked team who hasn't lost in their home building since I have no idea. The schedule opens up now, as Iowa plays the likes of Northwestern, Penn State, and Illinois in the next three games. I never advocate taking any team for granted, but Iowa should be able to rebound from this loss over the next few games and keep their amazing season on track.