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Revisiting Iowa Basketball’s Preseason Predictions

Not that bad!

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan vs Iowa Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Another basketball season is in the books and, well, that was frustrating. We’ll have more here at the Pants, as JP alluded to in his most recent Overreaction Monday piece but now is not the time for a breakdown of every single turnover the Iowa Hawkeyes had when they entered the ball into Tyler Cook. No, now is the time to completely misdirect you, the reader, about how off my team prediction was by focusing on how great my per game, individual predictions were.

Accountability is the best ability. At least I think that’s how it goes...

Anyways, in the lead up to the season, I broke down the three main areas of Iowa’s team - the point, wing, and post - and made six individual stat line predictions as well as a number of best case/worst case scenarios. We’ll start with the stats.

Preseason Predictions

Jordan Bohannon: 13 points, 5.5 assists, 1 steal, & 2 turnovers in 28 minutes
Isaiah Moss: 9.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 24 minutes
Ahmad Wagner: 5 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 14 minutes
Tyler Cook: 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in 26 minutes
Luka Garza: 8 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes
Nicholas Baer: 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3.5 blocks/steals in 22 minutes

Initially, I’m very disappointed in myself for predicting, like 5 steals a game out of those listed above. Utter insanity to think two guys would get into the top 5 of the conference in that statistic. The other huge miss on my part was Wagner’s minutes and output, as he notched only 9.1 minutes a game.

It also interesting to see some hesitancy in my Moss and Garza offensive predictions.

So here’s how things actually shook out:

2017-18 Actuals

Jordan Bohannon: 13.5 points, 5.4 assists, 0,7 steal, & 2.1 turnovers in 31.8 minutes
Isaiah Moss: 11.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 0.7 steals in 24.2 minutes
Ahmad Wagner: 1.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.2 steals in 9.1 minutes
Tyler Cook: 15.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 28.0 minutes
Luka Garza: 12.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in 21.7 minutes
Nicholas Baer: 5.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.9 blocks/steals in 21.4 minutes

In aggregate, the six predictions came in a half point under actuals (58.5 vs. 59) though rebounds and steals were well under where they finished. I’m particularly pleased with the predictions of Bohannon and Cook.

Perhaps what makes this exercise the most frustrating is just how well this team met the preseason offensive predictions I had for them. Garza and Moss both got to double digits and Baer worked through some poor shooting to post a respectable stat line.

I severely overlooked turnovers, however. Though I was within .1 on Bohannon, he was well behind Cook who posted 2.5 turnovers. Extrapolated to per 40 minutes stats, Cook had a whopping 3.6! Cordell Pemsl followed that up with 3.4 and Bohannon was a respectable 2.6.

That’s enough of the stats at this juncture. Let’s go ahead and take a look at my favorite aka “most right” Best/Worst Case Scenarios. Spoiler, I select a lot of “worst cases.”

The Point

Bohannon combined from both my best and worst case scenario as he developed into “a constant threat whenever he crosses the half-court stripe,” while remaining a “defensive liability.” We’ll shelve those two and take a look deeper into the preview:

No one is able to fill the minutes when Bohannon sits on the bench, resulting in either a) a heavily fatigued JoBo who is forced to average well over 30 minutes a game or b) burning Connor McCaffery’s redshirt during his walk-on campaign.

Guess what? Both things happened! Iowa never identify a backup for Bohannon after Christian Williams transferred (he had not left the Hawkeyes before I wrote it) but they had to force Connor into action. Fortunately, Iowa was able to make lemon La Croix out of lemons as they were able to readjust amidst McCaffery’s injury-riddled freshman campaign and put his redshirt back on. And Baby Bo had to work through a season of plantar fasciitis at over 30 minutes a pop.

Backup point guard will remain an area of concern until proven otherwise.

The Wing

Oh man, this was arguably the superfecta of worst case scenarios. On Moss:

Moss continues to struggle in finding his footing and teams send their best perimeter defender to Bohannon. He continues to show flashes in transition and on defense, but his inconsistency forces McCaffery to shake up the rotation at shooting guard.

And Wagner:

Amid a crowded frontline, Wagner is unable to separate himself and finds his minutes in flux game-to-game.

And Baer:

His three point shooting drops? He loses his “Straight Outta Cookies” shirt? Again - we know what we’re getting from Baer.

And the bench:

Fran struggles managing roles and minutes and frustration boils onto the court.

While frustration never distinctly managed to boil onto the court, Iowa never settled into a steady rotation on the wing or the post, I looked a gift horse (overperforming former walk-on) in the eye, and Moss never developed into a consistent on ball threat.


The Post

Regarding Tyler Cook, I exalted his game, stating that the offense “can, and should, run through him.” However, the worst case scenario was Iowa’s season in a nutshell:

He focuses too much on scoring and teams can break him down with double teams. His defense is still a season away. The talent regularly shines through but consistency becomes an issue.

While it’s probably a tough sell to say his consistency became an issue, he definitely was only consistent on offense. For Iowa to be the best they can be, they need to get some defense out of their power forward. Whether it’s Cook or not remains to be seen, though recent indications are that it will be.

We’ll close on a high note. That of Garza’s “Best Case Scenario:”

Garza comes out and immediately posts a stat line in line with the best of the bunch [Jared Reiner’s 10/7]. He’s a good enough defender and rebounder to improve Iowa’s defensive rating. He shreds Ethan Happ on January 23rd.

Luka Garza did have the best offensive season of any “true” Iowa center in a long while.

So there you have it.

While Iowa’s statistical output was very much in line with preseason predictions, the season played out like many of the worst case scenarios. Feel free to let me know just how off my best case scenarios were (they were pretty much all wrong).

Stick around here as continue looking back at this disappointing year. Though there’s still a lot of the current season to play out, I remain optimistic about Iowa’s outlook.