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What Might Iowa’s Rotation Look Like?

It’s still gonna be a log jam - how will Fran McCaffery allocate minutes?

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

I was going to use this space to be funny and create Halloween costume ideas for our beloved Hawkeyes: Jordan Bohannon as Shooter McGavin; Tyler Cook as a chef; Nicholas and Michael Baer as Yogi Baer and Boo-Boo; Ryan Kriener and Cordell Pemsl as the Bash Bros; Connor McCaffery as Bryce Harper; et cetera et cetera.

But I suck at photoshop after spending much longer than I’d like to admit failing at creating just one piece of Internet art and have decided to recede to what I think I do best in this space: math.

We haven’t taken much time to look at lineups during Franvember so let’s give it a shot here. With a weird amount of roster turnover - three out who played sparingly by the end of the season and two or three who figure for pretty big minutes, it’s worth taking a look at how it might shake out, as Fran once again has a deep, deep roster of Big Ten caliber players, or so it would appear.

At the end of the 2017 season, I aggregated all Iowa seasons under Fran to see if there was anything to gather from Iowa’s history which might portend to 2018. The following rules were applied to the projection: no player over 75% of the minutes, no “pure” post player over 65% of the minutes, and a player would get either 15% of the minutes (6 a game) or none at all.

The rules more or less held true with Jordan Bohannon playing just a bit over 75% (79% which was the most of any Iowa PG under Fran), Cook at 69% (nice), and Ahmad Wagner, Brady Ellingson, and Ryan Kriener bringing up the rear of rotation players at 20%.

So let’s apply those rules to a first cut of Iowa’s lineup without accounting for new arrivals, including Connor McCaffery:

First Pass - No New Players

Player 1 2 3 4 5 Total Last Year
Player 1 2 3 4 5 Total Last Year
Jordan Bohannon 75% 75% 79.0%
Isaiah Moss 60% 60% 60.0%
Maishe Dailey 40% 40% 41.0%
Nicholas Baer 45% 45% 43.5%
Jack Nunge 40% 40% 38.9%
Tyler Cook 25% 45% 70% 69.4%
Cordell Pemsl 40% 40% 39.5%
Ryan Kriener 25% 25% 21.1%
Luka Garza 55% 55% 53.8%
Connor McCaffery 4.0%
Dom Uhl 5.5%
Brady Ellingson 21.4%
Ahmad Wagner 20.5%

As you can see, the holes as they currently present are at backup point guard and some combination of small forward/power forward. And really, those spots are exactly where Iowa’s reinforcements figure to play. Plus Baer’s numbers were dampened based on his early season injury. All of a sudden, Iowa has a minutes problem if McCaffery gets any more than 10 minutes per game without Bohannon on the floor and Joe Wieskamp plays starter minutes, which is well above the 12 available in the current setup.

So where are the minutes going to come from?

  • My first thought is we see Bohannon’s dip just a bit. With the foot injury he dealt in conjunction with the lack of a backup, he was pretty clearly overworked. I also suspect we do see Fran play the two point guards together with some regularity which would eat into Isaiah Moss and Maishe Dailey’s minutes.
  • Regarding the forward spot, unless Jack Nunge develops much quicker feet, he’ll be a liability at the 3. In an ideal scenario, he’d play almost exclusively as a 4 but there is such a logjam there, it’s tough to figure who will lose minutes there. It’s probably a game-to-game thing as matchups and performance dictates.
  • If Wieskamp is going to start, as has every top 100 recruit under Fran, it’s hard not to see him playing a significant role. In other words, it’s difficult to see him starting and only playing 8 minutes a half (40%).
  • The writing on the wall seems pretty clear, after the rib injury, the C.J. Fredrick is going to redshirt barring injury to someone else.

So what is Fran going to have to deal with next year?

Second Pass - Overflow

Player 1 2 3 4 5 Total
Player 1 2 3 4 5 Total
Jordan Bohannon 75% 75%
Connor McCaffery 25% 15% 40%
Isaiah Moss 60% 60%
Maishe Dailey 40% 40%
Joe Wieskamp 50% 50%
Nicholas Baer 55% 55%
Jack Nunge 40% 40%
Tyler Cook 25% 45% 70%
Cordell Pemsl 40% 40%
Ryan Kriener 25% 25%
Luka Garza 55% 55%
C.J. Fredrick -

Three positions are overflowing. Iowa’s roster makeup is suited very well for a college baseball-style season where three games are often played in three days. The Hawkeyes’ depth could wear teams out. However, college basketball presents a different challenge where chemistry often outweighs depth unless a team is ravaged with injuries. After all, there are only 40 40 minute games in the longest college basketball seasons so it is about making the most of each available minute.

I suspect Fran finds a tighter rotation as games get close and the season gets long, but in aggregate, here’s what I think we’ll see from a playing time perspective:

Final Pass - All Minutes Allocated

Player 1 2 3 4 5 Total
Player 1 2 3 4 5 Total
Jordan Bohannon 75% 75%
Connor McCaffery 25% 15% 40%
Isaiah Moss 50% 50%
Maishe Dailey 35% 35%
Joe Wieskamp 50% 50%
Nicholas Baer 50% 50%
Jack Nunge 30% 30%
Tyler Cook 20% 40% 60%
Cordell Pemsl 30% 30%
Ryan Kriener 20% 20%
Luka Garza 60% 60%
C.J. Fredrick -

The post is much more even because it is more likely to be driven by some combination of matchups, foul trouble, and performance in the current game. The guards will be much more straight-forward because, if nothing else, there just aren’t as many bodies to throw there.

This is, without a doubt, the most challenging season of Fran McCaffery’s tenure. The failure to perform to last year’s expectations plus the inability to defend game after game have put him in an already precarious position. With so many players who would garner playing time elsewhere, the balancing act he’ll need to pull off only increases the difficulty.