Well … that was a shit show.
I thought long and hard about finding a more positive way of framing this game, but let’s be honest: that was embarrassing.
I don’t know what it is about postseason play in major sports that lends itself to Iowa getting publicly shamed, but damn if I don’t feel like I should’ve known better.
This one started off innocuously enough, with the Hawkeyes playing Indiana about even over the course of the first few minutes and only trailing 20-19 at the under-12 timeout.
Following an 11-2 run by the Hoosiers, though, it was clear that the Hawkeye defense of November would take center stage tonight.
Despite that revolving door defense, Iowa was able to ride strong performances from Jordan Bohannon and Cordell Pemsl (yay bright spots!) to a respectable 43-40 deficit at halftime.
That wouldn’t last.
The second half started much the same as the first, with the Hawkeyes generally holding their own and only trailing 52-48 at the first media timeout of the second half.
Then the wheels came off.
The Hoosiers would rattle off a 13-4 run over a couple of minutes and never look back. It became clear pretty soon thereafter that this Iowa squad had essentially folded.
I won’t pain you with a breakdown of the goings-on that followed—suffice to say it wasn’t good. Not good at all. Some would even call it bad.
Outside of Bohannon and Pemsl (and Isaiah Moss I suppose), it’s hard to find much of a silver lining in this game. Peter Jok was off (to say the least) on offense and appeared entirely disinterested in playing even a modicum of defense throughout. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t massively disappointed in that showing from Iowa’s first team All-B1Ger.
On top of that, Nicholas Baer was at best nonexistent and at worst a liability throughout the entire game. Now, I love me some Baer, but that was one of the worse games I can ever remember out of him.
To round it all out, Tyler Cook was hampered by foul trouble all game, and even when he was able to play freely was generally dominated by Thomas Bryant in the post (I can think of at least 3 blocks Cook was on the wrong end of in that matchup off the top of my head).
Simply put: that’s all a recipe for disaster, and it’s a shame that it occurred in the most consequential game of Iowa’s season.
Okay, I’ve got my knee-jerk negativity out of the way, time for a little perspective.
Excluding this game, it’s been a fun couple of weeks as an Iowa hoopyball fan; I remember a mere month ago simply hoping that the Hawks could claw their way into the NIT—being in the NCAA bubble discussion never even crossed my mind. We’ve seen some young guys take huge strides and three underclassmen nabbed B1G end-of-year awards.
And yes, Iowa should be essentially a lock for the NIT, which is a consolation prize, sure, but shouldn’t be undersold in its significance to a young team. Getting this squad more time practicing and playing together against decent competition will absolutely be helpful in the future.
So there you have it. That game sucked but on a big picture level it could be way worse. Don’t let that dissuade you from ranting and analyzing the massive failings of the Hawkeyes in this game; just bear in mind that there’s bound to be more basketball left to be played this year and the future remains bright.
And now we hit the beers.