As the 2016-17 basketball season ended, there was hope surrounding the Iowa Hawkeyes. Yes, they lost another high-scoring game where defense became optional, but there was a hope surrounding the young guns that better times were ahead.
We looked too often at the highs of that season, instead of the lows, when projecting this season.
Now, here we stand, 8 games into the season with a .500 record. For what it’s worth, it is an improvement of a win from last year, where Iowa was 3-5, coming off four straight losses to Virginia, Memphis, Notre Dame, and Omaha.
While 2017-18 hasn’t been what I expected it to be at this point in the season, the stretch of games between November 21st and December 7th are proving to be as important as I thought they’d be coming into the season. It’s only that, instead of being 3-2 or possibly 4-1, they are 1-4 so far.
I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong. Hell, I wrote a piece in the lead up to this season saying Peter Jok’s loss was everyone else’s gain. I undercut the amount of time and effort (and fear) opponents put into Peter Jok and shutting him down. We are seeing it now with opponents throwing their best perimeter defenders at Jordan Bohannon instead of Jok running off screens. There is no one on the roster who strikes the fear into opposing coaches in the same way Jok did last year.
I also underestimated the amount of adjustment it would require from Fran McCaffery in turning his perimeter-oriented offense into one focused on the post. If anything has clarified during this time, it is that Tyler Cook is absolutely Iowa’s best player. This is the first time Fran has had to orient his offense around a bona fide post-up player since (maybe?) Melsahn Basabe’s freshman year, if ever. And we all know how that turned out.
I still have faith in this coach and these players to figure it out. It probably won’t be in time to make the tournament this year - there are just too many not-good losses to overcome - but they should still have some memorable highs.
One highlight from the game which bears repeating is Tyler Cook’s devastating dunk as they attempted to climb the mountain against Penn State:
Lol @iamtc5 yo CHILLLLL https://t.co/FSw88OEwuy— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) December 3, 2017
(can you imagine going against a high school team with Jayson Tatum and Tyler Cook?)
Did you hear Iowa is going to New York City?
Fun stuff, right?
It will not be a cheap trip. Unless StoopsMyAss lets you camp out in his yard.
Also - need I remind you (again) that Iowa faces a former employee, Jim Reid, with this selection? Not that a coach needs to work in Iowa City previously or have 3 weeks to prepare to shut down the Hawkeyes, but his experience under Ferentz certainly won’t hurt him in his gameplanning.
His defense has allowed only 30 points four times this season and held their opponent to 23 points or less the other eight games. This has the makings of a rock fight.
If Iowa wins, I will feel more relief than joy.
Iowa was enabled by the College Football Selection Committee to go to New York (instead of Nashville) because they left Ohio State out of the Playoff.
Far be it from me to grieve with Buckeye fans, but I side with them in the Ohio State vs. Alabama “battle of the arrogant fanbases.” Sure, Ohio State took a licking in Iowa City last month (it was glorious), but they have much better wins against highly rated teams. I think Joel Klatt sums it up best:
the @CFBPlayoff committee has told us— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) December 3, 2017
Yr 1 - Championships and 13 data point (sorry Baylor and TCU)
Yr 2 - Head 2 Head and Championship (sorry Ohio State)
Yr 3 - Resume and Good wins (sorry Penn State)
Yr 4 - Just because (sorry Ohio State and USC)
Basically, year-to-year consistency will not exist when it comes down to “eye test” and things you can’t quantify. Perhaps it’s best understood when you look at it as content instead of, you know, a way to crown a champion. ESPN (among others) has garnered a high number of clicks and views and other new-aged metrics in the run-up to the playoff and they’re the network which shows these games.
The committee has done exactly what ESPN wants. Drum up interest and line their pockets.
Turning our view west, it’s worth mentioning that Scott Frost is scheduled to receive more money between now and 2024 than Kirk Ferentz.
Maybe it’s worth it, for them, but Kirk’s salary is looking less and less ridiculous by the day. I think I’m fine not scratching that itch.
It’s December which means a return of my three favorite Christmas songs:
What’s your favorite?
Which song is best?
This poll is closed
"Same Old Lang Syne" - Dan Fogelberg
"Do They Know It’s Christmas" - Band Aid (1984)
"Last Christmas" - Wham!
I wouldn’t be properly filling in for father-of-two JPinIC if I didn’t mention the latest Pixar film, “Coco.”
It’s amazing. And devastating in a way that Disney/Pixar has uniquely perfected.
That’s my review.
Also - NO ONE ASKED FOR A 20-MINUTE FROZEN SHORT