Is it just me, or does it seem like it’s been forever and a day since the 2018-19 Iowa basketball season ended?
I mean, until I started doing research for this post, I had completely forgotten pretty much...everything about the season. Everything except the fact that, for some reason, it left a sour taste in my mouth.
But as soon as I started digging in, I quickly remembered why.
Apparently, I blocked from my memory the fact that last year’s squad played in the NCAA Tournament, let alone beat Cincinnati and lost in overtime to Tennessee after overcoming a 25-point deficit in the second round. I forgot that Iowa had lost 6 of its last 8 games heading into the NCAA Tournament. And even worse than that, it took miraculous last second baskets in multiple games from Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp for that losing streak to not be worse than it was.
The offseason has been no better with the departures of Isaiah Moss, Maishe Dailey and Tyler Cook to the NBA. And now, going into this season, it was revealed that Bohannon underwent hip surgery, that meant he might not play the entire season. Yes, he’s getting some run time in Monday’s exhibition game, but that really doesn’t mean anything. And to top off the sundae, Cordell Pemsl was suspended from all basketball activities indefinitely after he was arrested for OWI early in the fall semester and will miss the exhibition game and Iowa’s season opener.
Not great, Bob! That’s a lot of missing pieces!
Part of me wants to be optimistic about this team, it really does. But I’ve watched Iowa basketball under head coach Fran McCaffery for too long now to actually buy into any hype regarding any of his squads. I’m an Iowa fan, most of us meet lofty expectations for any program with a sense of dread and as a signal of bad things to come.
Make no mistake, there’s talent on this roster. Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp both had spurts of greatness last year. But are they ready to be on-court leaders in the absence of Bohannon? Connor McCaffery proved last year that he couldn’t create his own shot and was sloppy handling the ball. You’re telling me there’s a possibility that he’ll be the teams starting point guard over Joe Touisant or CJ Frederick?
Love him or not, I think this team will really miss Isaiah Moss. Sure, he was a streaky shooter, but he was also one of the team’s best defenders in a stretch of years where defense was optional at times. This team is relatively young, and Moss would have been a great leader on and off the court.
I’m especially excited to see what Frederick can do on the floor with his speed. Patrick McCaffery as well comes into the program with a lot of upside, but also seems like he’s a little undersized at this point in time and could really use some time in the weight room before he’s really making an impact against elite Big Ten competition.
I don’t expect this team to be a total flop, but again, it’s hard to say. I’ve seen too many Fran McCaffery Iowa teams with veteran leaders turn a promising season into a flop come March to think that this young roster, that almost feels completely new in a sense, will compete for a Big Ten title or a deep NCAA Tournament run, let alone an appearance.
Instead, I think we’re just in for another middle-of-the road Iowa basketball season where we see a lovable group of young guys trying to figure it out as they go in preparation for some seasons with real potential in a year or two. Set your expectations accordingly. Better to be pessimistic and be surprised than the reverse, a whose pessimist once said.