Iowa’s basketball season starts shortly, but it looks like there was one last piece of offseason news to pump out before the Hawks take on UMKC tonight, as Fran McCaffery announced that Jack Nunge would use his redshirt this season.
The move is curious - why didn’t they have him redshirt last season? - but all-in-all, it’s one that makes sense. Nunge really struggled as a true freshman and admitted that went through a crisis of confidence at times, which limited the role he was able to play. He was a heralded three-point shooter coming off a senior season where he was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball, but only shot 33% from deep and consequently 44% from the field. He also played out of position for much of 2017-18; with such a deep group of players at power forward and center, he played many of his minutes at small forward, where he proved too slow to guard quicker wing players. When he did play at the 4 or 5, he was overmatched by guys that were his own size (seriously, most of the pictures from Getty and USA Today are of him getting bullied on defense).
The move also allows Fran McCaffery to tighten the rotation this season. One of the biggest critiques of him last season was that he played too many guys, and that it kept guys from finding a rhythm. With Ahmad Wagner having transferred and Nunge now redshirting, he’ll be able to keep the rotation of big men to Tyler Cook, Luka Garza, Ryan Kriener, Cordell Pemsl, and Nicholas Baer. This will also allow for Nunge to improve his game, then slide into the rotation in 2019-20, when you figure a couple of those guys will have departed the program.
Of course, if any of the aforementioned players are injured this season, then Nunge and the coaching staff will probably re-evaluate the redshirt. Until then, best of luck to Nunge on his improvement and hopefully it’s a decision that benefits all parties moving forward.