Do you know what’s one of the best parts about sports? Letting your expectations soar. Sure, most of us inevitably set ourselves up for disastrous failures, but we all share that ability to talk ourselves into just about anything during the offseason. Like Kevin Garnett so graciously put it, “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE,” even when it probably isn’t. So, as most of you (like clockwork) forget the many nuances that drove you nuts about the 2016-17 Iowa basketball season, I wanted to provide you with the moments and flashes you need to hang on to when it comes time to build up the 2017-18 season in your mind. Because whether it’s now or in November, we’re all going to come to the same conclusion anyway: This is THE year Iowa finally wins... a game in the Big Ten Tournament.
Jordan Bohannon, Sophomore, G
2016-17 Stats: 10.9 points (38.8 FG%, 41.6 3P%), 2.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists (2.2 turnovers), .9 steals in 29.6 minutes per game.
Best Game of the Season: Am I still crazy for thinking JoBo was wearing the wrong jersey in the Big Ten Tournament matchup against Indiana? Not only was he the high scorer for the game (outscoring a red hot James Blackmon Jr. 24 to 23), but he was the soul reason why all of our hearts began to flutter with the unadulterated thoughts of winning a Big Ten Tournament game (or two) and riding a big wave of momentum into the Madness. As it turned out, none of that happened (again) as JoBo and Cordell Pemsel were the only two players that could do much of anything offensively that day.
Bohannon finished the game with 24-points (on 6-11 shooting from long distance might I add), 10 assists (four turnovers) and two steals in 37 (!) minutes.
Here are all five of his first half 3-pointers (a few of which were shot from South Bend, or Fort Wayne, or Bloomington, or some other no-name, unimportant city in Indiana to make this Dan Dakich cliché work):
Those pull-ups, tho!
Next Best Game of the Season: In a much needed win at #24 Maryland, Bohannon played 31 minutes, went 8-10 from downtown (24 total points) and dished out five assists. If a human could catch on literal fire from shooting basketballs into a hoop, Bohannon would have surely spontaneously combusted that night.
Here are all eight of his 3’s (a few of which were shot from Baltimore, or Annapolis, or Rockville, or some other no-name, unimportant city in Maryland that I’m sure serves awesome crab cakes to make this second Dan Dakich cliché work):
It was his best game to that point in his young career despite having a hurt finger... so basically JoBo has way more toughness and grit than Rajon Rondo.
That’s What I Like, That’s What I Like
Talk about an under-the-radar emergence. I’ll come right out and say it; I didn’t expect much from JoBo during his freshman season. While I wouldn’t have been caught ever doubting his (or the bloodline he comes from) sharpshooting abilities, what I did doubt (openly might I add) was his ability to keep up with the physicality of the Big Ten. Could any of you blame me? He was an incoming freshman who was a “Media Guide” 6’1” and 180 pounds. He was going to face some troubles defensively (and he did).
Plus (don’t think I forgot), we were all on the “Christian Williams is going to work out, right? RIGHT!” bandwagon which lasted a whole six games (just another case of fans filling ourselves up with a plate full of offseason hopes and dreams...glad I can help with that this year).
But, as fate would thankfully have it, JoBo started turning heads early, grabbed some headlines, etched his name into the record books and became one of Iowa’s surefire building blocks for the next three years.
How did it happen?
Bohannon isn’t just some spot up shooter like, say, Brady Ellingson. He’s way more than the specialist I was envisioning. He can virtually hit from anywhere on the court and in any position.
He stays comfortable and ready to shoot the J:
First and foremost, props to Fran McCaffery for actually drawing up and putting in behind the basket, out-of-bounds plays. I can’t tell you how annoyed I was getting during March Madness with teams baseball chucking it into the backcourt.
Now, the age old adage for these types of plays is to make sure you watch the guy taking the ball out of bounds. If you’ve played any sort of organized hoops, this (as well as the most dangerous person in an offense is the screener) have more than likely been drilled into your head. It’s easy to harp on these types of things in practice, but when you have someone like Peter Jok running through two screens, chaos generally ensues and the gravity that comes with his scoring ability pulls extra defenders close.
That’s exactly what happens here. Once Jok get’s trapped on the baseline, he looks for his release valve in the corner. While the freshman is already set up in his triple threat stance a few paces to the right, Jok’s pass is off target. Yet it doesn’t matter. JoBo hops left, gathers the pass and fires all in one beautiful motion. Do you know how hard that is? Seriously, next time your shooting around with a buddy at the gym, go to the corner, hop to your left as you gather a pass and shoot all at the same time. It’s much harder than he made that look.
Check out this set:
It all starts with a partial slip screen by Pemsl on Nicholas Baer’s defender while Bohannon and Jok play a little cat and mouse game together at the left elbow. As Baer starts to dribble toward the middle of the floor, you’ll notice that he pulls the eyes of Jok’s defender for a split second. This is all this play needs. Jok then (immediately after being screened by JoBo) sets a pick on Bohannon’s man who was in La La Land after jumping/cheating deep into the paint on the initial action.
Bohannon, as just a freshman, was an elite option from deep. That presence on the court is going to only make life easier for ALL of these big, long, athlete’s that McCaffery is bringing to Iowa City. The secrets out on Bohannon, but it was clear that the coaching staff continued to develop creative ways to get him the slightest window to go to work.
It helped to have Jok on the floor with him. It’ll be interesting to see when he gets more attention next year.
But even when that happens, if McCaffery’s offense is humming up and down the court the way he hopes it will, no matter what a team does defensively, there’s no stopping this:
That’s a shooter baby.
Watching Bohannon shoot overshadows everything else he does on the floor. It’s obsolete, and I’m saying that as someone who appreciates all of the other things he does really well.
But I knew coming into this week, that I was only here for the 3’s, baby.
It’s Iowa’s fault. I have seen so many “3-point shooters” since 2007 that I was beginning to believe that this was a species of basketball player that was extinct. Once Justin Johnson graduated (and the great J.R. Angle hung up his shoes) look at what we saw: Anthony Tucker couldn’t get out of his own way (but had the same type of shooting capability as JoBo), Devan Bawinkel didn’t even like the way he shot a basketball, Eric May thought he was a 3-point shooter instead of a linebacker, Zach McCabe wanted to fight the 3-point line, I openly called Josh Oglesby “Josh OglesBRICK” and Brady Ellingson isn’t some model of consistency.
Bravo for breaking the freshman record for assists in a season, JoBo, but I can’t help but salivate at every single one of the 89 long bombs you made this season (and I know I’m not the only one).
Now, before I sign off on this weeks “TWIL, TWIL”, I need to harp on one last thing about JoBo’s freshman season: He seemingly got better with every game. Sure, some of the box scores might not prove that, but as a big “eye test” guy, I saw it (and I’m sure BoilerHawk could produce some analytics to prove it in the comments below).
Isn’t that the only thing that matters when evaluating a freshman?
Was he better than they were at the end of the season? Did he string together consistent games against some of the best talent in college basketball? Did he hold his own defensively? Did he make plays? Did he stay within himself and never let the moment get too big? Did he get people excited about his play? Did he show you where his ceiling could be as he matures his individual game? Was he a good teammate? Was he coachable? Did he learn from his mistakes and limit them when he was faced with similar situations?
The resounding answer to all of the above was, simply, yes.
And the best part about all of that is that we get to see all of that happen, right in front of our eyes, for three more years.
Better keep your “3 Goggles” on.