The Iowa basketball season starts up this Friday, and it could not come soon enough. The Hawkeyes already played an exhibition last week where they demolished something called Regis, but this bout counts in a wins-losses sense.
There’s little one can say about these tune-up contests, so we’re going to lay out the facts in front you and let the jury decide on its own if the Hawkeyes should come away with a win. When you type “Kennesaw State basketball” into the Google search bar, the next word that comes up is “tryouts,” so really that should tell you all you need to know about this program.
Get to know the Owls
Kennesaw State plays in the Atlantic Sun Conference—better known as the house Florida Gulf Coast built. The Owls went 7-7 in the conference last year, and 11-20 overall. K-State was one win from making it to the Big Dance last year, falling to Dunk City 74-64 in the conference finals.
This is only Kennesaw State’s 12th season as a Div-I program, so Iowa holds that advantage. FYI, Kennesaw State hasn’t beaten a team from a major conference (these are called Power-5 in football, we should think of a name for bball) since it took down Georgia Tech in 2010.
Who’s coming back?
Leading scorer Kendrick Ray returns to an Owl squad that brings back three starters. Ray averaged just under 19 points a game and is about the only bright spot on a team that looks to get six freshmen some significant minutes.
If nothing else, Ray could cause some mismatches for this young Iowa team. Outside of him, though, I don’t see anyone else giving the Hawkeyes fits.
Let’s talk about the Hawks
As is the case with what I feel like has been every Fran-coached team at Iowa, these early games are best used as a barometer for who could see significant minutes once Iowa gets to the meat of its schedule. We saw glimpses of lineups in last week’s exhibition, and will continue to see experimentation through the Gavitt Games and Emerald Coast Classic.
A quick note about first games of the season under Fran: with the exception of his first year at Iowa, where the team lost 79-69 to South Dakota State in 2010 (fun fact: that was my first Iowa basketball game ever) the Hawkeyes generally come ready to play. Here’s Iowa’s track record in its first game of the season under McCaffery.
2010: 69-79, SDSU
2011: 96-53, Chicago State
2012: 86-55, Texas Pan-AM
2013: 82-39(!), UNC-Wilmington
2014: 90-56, Hampton
2015: 76-59, Gardner Webb
Now, those teams aren’t exactly a murderers row of basketball bluebloods, but I am in the belief that playing these games is important to get confidence up for the young guys and help the veterans shake off some rust. Don’t expect Peter Jok to play much beyond the second half, and set the o/u for different lineup combinations we see at 8.5.
And that’s 500 words on Kennesaw State-Iowa basketball. We’re going to have a how to watch piece on Friday, and I’m gonna pony up and buy BTN 2 and Tweet about the game, because I guess that’s sort of my duty as an Iowa blogger.
I think we can all agree that we’re glad Iowa basketball is BACK.