The Iowa men’s basketball team held its media day yesterday, and it doesn’t seem like we were treated to any more nuggets than we were during Big Ten media days a week ago.
Jordan Bohannon’s status is still up in the air, Joe Wieskamp needs to be more vocal and this team needs to play better defense — on the perimeter and the paint — if it wants to move past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time of the Fran McCaffery era.
We knew all that already.
But what we didn’t know… we now know.
To me, the most interesting storylines revolve around guys who didn’t play last year — forward Jack Nunge and guard CJ Fredrick took redshirt years to hone their games. Cordell Pemsl took a medical redshirt. And point guard Joe Toussaint is a true freshman. Throw in grad transfer Bakari Evelyn (whom I don’t have high expectations for, but we’ll see) those four-five guys could be the catalyst for getting Iowa to sweetness. Nothing to say for Patrick McCaffery, who was a top-100 player in the country by most recruiting services.
I’m most excited for Fredrick and Nunge. Nunge is now listed at 245 lbs, up about 20 from when he first stepped on campus. He showed some flashes as a true freshman, and will push Ryan Kriener and Pemsl for minutes. (On Pemsl: Fran said he’s cleared up his legal hurdles stemming from an OWI, and he expects him to be back practicing next week.)
Number one, [Nunge] got after it in practice and went against Cook and Garza every day. He went to an accelerated weight training program, which clearly changed his body, and when you see him, you’ll see what I mean. Physically, he is in a completely different place, especially as it relates to his ability to do things in the post. He was always a good post player, but he was on the thin side. He’s not on the thin side anymore. He’s finishing plays. Defensively, he’s always had tremendous defensive instincts, so now you have a bigger body to combat talented players in this league.
I think it also helped his confidence level. He’s making shots at a high percentage. He’s running the floor. Physically, he’s really in a good place, not only in terms of size and strength but also in terms of stamina. When you have a skilled big man like that and his strength and stamina are in a good place, you end up with somebody who’s productive.
Next is another CJF, this time on the hardwood. He was one of the best players in the state of Kentucky and will provide depth at a position of need if Bohannon isn’t able to go this year.
I was slightly disappointed to hear he’s more of a 2 than a 1, but I’m willing to bet he’d still be an upgrade at the position compared to some other guys who played there last year.
[Fredrick’s] really more of a two, two/one. I don’t know that we’ll need him at the one this year with what we have, and it depends on Jordan’s situation, but he can play the 1. CJ is shooting the ball extremely well. He’s a big-time scorer. He’s a bucket getter. He can create his own. He can get baskets within the offense.
The thing that really makes him difficult to guard is he’s really good at getting rid of the ball. You look at him and say, well, surely he can play the 1 because look at the plays he’s making off the dribble, and that’s a weapon. He moves without it, curl cuts, fades, shot fake drive, shot fake rip-and-go, one-dribble kicks. He sees the floor extremely well and gets the ball out of his hands quickly when somebody is open.
Yesterday’s practice, he was on fire, and he’s been like that a number of times, but there’s times when he won’t shoot as much and just make plays for other people, and that’s what I love about him.
I’m nervous about a guy being on fire in practice and not in games, but we’ll see.
Maybe it’s just because I’m still suffering from a Michigan hangover, but I’m feeling good about this basketball team.
- On Bohannon’s status for this season: he’s doing some light work, but not practicing with the team. His injury sounds worse than I thought, as does his rehab.
- Bohannon has a beard now, too. Let’s not make a thing of it.
Jordan Bohannon on his health:— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) October 9, 2019
“It’s hard for me to gauge when my body will be ready. It’s up to my body to decide. Right now I feel good. I’ve been working out quite a bit. My conditioning is back to what it should be.” #Hawkeyes | @JordanBo_3 pic.twitter.com/hw9j9P2pcm