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Lineups in Review: Minnesota & Michigan State

Comparing Iowa Against Other Inexperienced Teams Plus Last Week’s Lineups

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Fran McCaffery is in a tough place. He’s appeared pragmatic about this year in terms of balancing 2018 and beyond over immediate gains. Some injuries have forced his hand to open his rotation and he’s been correct in doing so. The main tenets he’s developed, specifically one of Jok/Baer always on the court and one of Cook/Pemsl always on the court, are the correct ones.

To me, the difficulty of this balance is magnified when you look at similarly aged college teams. As of 2/13, here is where Iowa stands against Power 5 programs who also have less than 1 year of experience, according to KenPom and 247’s 2016 Composite:

Power 5 Teams with Under 1 Year Experience

Team KenPom Rating Experience Record Recruiting Ranking
Team KenPom Rating Experience Record Recruiting Ranking
Kentucky +26.74 (8) .91 (343) 20-5 70.58 (2)
Texas +9.76 (68) .92 (342) 10-15 67.19 (5)
Iowa +9.39 (71) .91 (344) 14-12 48.32 (39)
Mississippi State +6.96 (95) .68 (351) 14-10 65.42 (9)
Washington +.26 (166) .84 (347) 9-16 52.06 (34)
Oregon State -10.38 (281) .79 (348) 4-22 44.41 (51)

The most interesting team to me is Washington. They lost a couple guys to the draft but have an established coach who added a point guard considered to be the best player available in a loaded draft class. Yet, they are absolutely horrible and fall below KenPom’s Mendoza Line (Rutgers). They have no present and no clear future. By contrast, Iowa is in a great place with clear building blocks who have significant growth potential (who will stick around). Though the wins are fun and demonstrate the present isn’t so bad, I will not view the success of this team by how deep they are playing into the spring but the development they continue to show individually and as a unit.

For that reason, I actually think McCaffery should double down on the depth he has found for the remainder of this year. Looking at Jordan Bohannon, he has had a strong hold on “PG of the future” since his first start against Notre Dame. However, he probably shouldn’t be playing 45 minutes of a 50-minute game, as he did against Minnesota. For reference, Mike Gesell topped 90% of a game only twice last year while the youngest Bohannon has hit that threshold 3 times so far. His fatigue may have resulted in some of his poor shooting and foul trouble the following game.

The downside is losing the on-court chemistry a coach hopes to maximize this time each year in preparation for a stretch run. Since Jok’s return, Fran has continued the tinkering he’s done all season and only 2 lineups have been featured 3+ minutes in each of the 3 contests: the starting lineup of Bohannon-Moss-Jok-Wagner-Cook (-21 in 24:14 total) and bench mob of Williams-Ellingson-Baer-Uhl-Pemsl (+9 in 11:15 total). The shuffling of individual players in and out doesn’t necessarily allow each unit to flow together like a hockey-style line change might allow and as this limited sample shows.

I think Fran has done right by this team and they’ve largely punched above their weight especially compared to other young, non-Kentucky, outfits. Their depth has been and will remain a strength for the rest of this year. With 5 games in 15 days to close the regular season and up to 5 conference tourney games in 5 days, Fran should lean on it.

@ Minnesota (L, 89-101 2 OT)

Minnesota Lineups by Net PPM

Lineup Points For Points Against Minutes Net Points Per Minute
Lineup Points For Points Against Minutes Net Points Per Minute
Bohannon-Moss-Jok-Baer-Pemsl 2 0 0.40 5.00
Bohannon-Moss-Baer-Uhl-Pemsl 2 0 0.47 4.29
Bohannon-Ellingson-Jok-Baer-Kriener 5 0 2.32 2.16
Bohannon-Ellingson-Jok-Baer-Pemsl 36 17 10.55 1.80
Williams-Jok-Baer-Wagner-Cook 2 1 1.15 0.87
Bohannon-Moss-Jok-Uhl-Cook 13 9 4.87 0.82
Bohannon-Moss-Jok-Uhl-Pemsl 5 3 2.55 0.78
Bohannon-Ellingson-Baer-Uhl-Pemsl 4 4 3.35 0.00
Bohannon-Moss-Jok-Baer-Uhl 0 0 0.23 0.00
Williams-Ellingson-Baer-Uhl-Pemsl 2 2 3.17 0.00
Williams-Moss-Baer-Wagner-Uhl 0 0 0.02 0.00
Bohannon-Moss-Jok-Wagner-Cook 13 22 9.82 -0.92
Bohannon-Moss-Dailey-Baer-Uhl 0 1 0.77 -1.30
Bohannon-Ellingson-Jok-Uhl-Pemsl 2 4 1.28 -1.56
Bohannon-Ellingson-Jok-Baer-Cook 3 13 3.63 -2.75
Bohannon-Ellingson-Baer-Uhl-Cook 0 4 1.32 -3.04
Bohannon-Moss-Jok-Baer-Cook 0 2 0.57 -3.53
Bohannon-Moss-Jok-Wagner-Kriener 0 6 1.38 -4.34
Williams-Ellingson-Baer-Wagner-Cook 0 2 0.37 -5.45
Bohannon-Ellingson-Moss-Baer-Kriener 0 7 1.25 -5.60
Williams-Moss-Jok-Baer-Uhl 0 4 0.55 -7.27
  • That stretch in the second half where Fran turned to Bohannon-Ellingson-Jok-Baer-Pemsl was an absolute revelation (80% of it was predicted by StoopsMyAss so credit where it’s due). From 12:00 to 4:38, they outscored Minnesota 26-11 and forced 5 turnovers while yielding none themselves. My only gripe was he let Bohannon and Jok stay in the game with the under-4:00 TV timeout right around the corner. Bohannon played the entire second half (not including OTs), including key defensive possessions where he looked overmatched by the veteran Nate Mason.
  • I’ve called for Baer’s insertion into the starting lineup but have decided to stop that request. It allows Iowa to have one of their leaders (Jok or Baer) on the court at all times and the intangibles Baer provides really shocks opponents when he comes off the bench instead of starting. I am projecting, but Fran sticking by Bohannon, Moss, and Cook shows them they are the foundation of future years. That being said, the starters’ Net Points Per Minute remain a disappointment and make the game an effort in digging out of a hole.

@ Michigan State (L, 66-77)

Michigan State Lineups by Net PPM

Lineup Points For Points Against Minutes Net Points Per Minute
Lineup Points For Points Against Minutes Net Points Per Minute
Williams-Jok-Baer-Cook-Pemsl 5 2 1.05 2.86
Williams-Moss-Jok-Cook-Kriener 3 0 1.27 2.37
Williams-Moss-Jok-Baer-Cook 2 0 1.12 1.79
Williams-Jok-Baer-Wagner-Cook 3 2 0.60 1.67
Bohannon-Jok-Baer-Cook-Pemsl 5 2 2.07 1.45
Williams-Ellingson-Baer-Uhl-Pemsl 13 7 4.30 1.40
Bohannon-Ellingson-Baer-Uhl-Pemsl 0 0 0.22 0.00
Williams-Ellingson-Jok-Baer-Cook 0 0 0.68 0.00
Williams-Moss-Baer-Wagner-Cook 0 0 0.82 0.00
Bohannon-Moss-Jok-Wagner-Pemsl 6 7 3.40 -0.29
Williams-Jok-Baer-Cook-Kriener 4 5 3.12 -0.32
Williams-Ellingson-Jok-Uhl-Cook 5 7 2.77 -0.72
Williams-Moss-Jok-Wagner-Cook 4 7 3.42 -0.88
Bohannon-Moss-Jok-Wagner-Cook 6 13 6.70 -1.04
Williams-Jok-Baer-Wagner-Pemsl 3 5 1.60 -1.25
Williams-Ellingson-Jok-Uhl-Pemsl 0 1 0.72 -1.40
Bohannon-Jok-Baer-Wagner-Pemsl 4 10 4.20 -1.43
Bohannon-Ellingson-Baer-Uhl-Kriener 3 7 1.88 -2.12
Williams-Ellingson-Jok-Cook-Pemsl 0 2 0.08 -24.00
  • McCaffery adjusted his rotation to combat MSU’s girth down low. After playing less than 50% of his time at the 3 the prior two games, Nicholas Baer played 90% of his minutes there against MSU. Iowa continued to stagger Tyler Cook and Cordell Pemsl to ensure one is on the court the whole time though Fran dusted them off as a pair in garbage time of this one. If Fran is going to shorten his rotation, giving both Cook and Pemsl more minutes and playing them together is the easiest way to do it.
  • I was unable to watch this game live so I watched the Peter Jok off ball action a little more than normal after seeing his quote about it: “I think they’re playing illegal defense on me, to be honest... They’re just grabbing me, doing whatever it takes, like a football game out there.” It didn’t look much worse than a lot of what Pete has been experiencing all season but he did look more willing to engage which speaks to what he is referencing.

Lastly, I’d like to share this tweet from Peter Jok’s brother after the Minnesota game. Pete’s growth as a leader was something this team needed and it’s great to see it come to fruition as his Hawkeye career comes to a close.

Do you have any questions you’d like me to explore in a later post? Please let me know in the comments below.