The Iowa Hawkeyes (2-1) return to the hardwood after their victory over Oral Roberts on Friday. They’ll face the North Florida Ospreys (4-1) in a battle of birds.
Sure, UNF’s record is inflated by a couple non-Division I wins but they also eked out a couple close wins at home against Georgia Southern and Southern Miss. In their only game against Power 5 competition, their 8-7 lead was quickly turned into a 30-10 deficit and eventual 15-point loss to Florida.
Their head ball coach remains Matthew Driscoll, a man some Hawkeye fans may remember as the guy who called out the 2014-15 varietal (except Gabe Olaseni) in the Ospreys’ last visit to Iowa City. A win against Iowa would give put his career record at 168-168.
KenPom’s view of the team is middle of the road at 180 with the offense and defense similarly ranked. It should be noted that games against non D-1 opponents are not included. Like Oral Roberts, North Florida is going to play quick (top 30 in Tempo) and absolutely chuck. 52% of their shots are from deep and they are making almost 40% of them. The flipside of their offense is they struggle with turnovers, rebounding, and rarely get to the free throw line.
- J.T. Escobar: The senior Osprey is their leading scorer at 15.0 PPG (a shade over Carter Hendrickson & Garrett Sams) despite being a mid-usage player. The reason? He’s on the court pretty much all the time, primarily off the ball. He’s shot 9 threes a game, making ~4. If he gets going, it might be difficult to stop him. If Iowa can force him to make plays off the dribble, he might struggle. Despite playing so much, he averages less than one assist/game while posting two turnovers. At 6’2”, he struggles with shots inside the arc, shooting just 38.5%.
- Ivan Gandia-Rosa: The Puerto Rico-native is Escobar’s backcourt-mate at point guard. His assist rate of 44% is the 10th highest in the country, per KenPom, and he averages over 6.4 a game. He’s similarly capable of filling it up, though he averages 12.2 points a game. He’s also the last person Iowa will want to send to the line, with a free throw percentage at 92.3%.
- Carter Hendricksen: The sophomore forward is one of a handful of 6’7” forward-types Driscoll will throw out and the most likely to be tasked with guarding Luka Garza. He’s their leading rebounder at 8.6/game. At 217 pounds, he is the heaviest rotational player the Ospreys typically play and averages 2.4 fouls/game despite fouling out of their game against Florida National.
- Luka? Garza has been dominant against undersized opponents for much of his career at Iowa. Tonight will likely be no different. Through three games, he’s finishing nearly 33% of Hawkeye possessions where he is on the court and has just one area for improvement: assists. He’s seen a slight dip in this area (and slight increase in turnovers) so far this season and UNF offers an opportunity for him to find the open man if he’s faced with a double-team.
- Can Iowa sustain effort? The Oral Roberts game was certainly a step in the right direction but the 16-3 run in the first half matched the final margin of victory. Too often, Iowa was comfortable trading baskets throughout the game which resulted in ORU scoring 1+ point/possession in each half. Though the lead never dipped below 10 once that margin was built, Iowa was more or less running out the clock throughout much of the second half.
- Can Joe Wieskamp find his groove? With Tyler Cook’s departure, Wieskamp was next in line for a big jump in production. Through three games, he hasn’t seen a huge jump in usage and has seen his percentages dip. He was much more aggressive against ORU and got to the line eight times. North Florida may pose more difficulty as they’re more capable in throwing out length at forward with Garrett Sams and Josh Endicott.
Opponent: North Florida Ospreys (Jacksonville, FL // Atlantic Sun League)
Game time: 6:00 PM CST // Thursday, November 21, 2019
Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena // Iowa City, IA
Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network
Online Listening: HRN
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Go Hawks, and play nice in the comments!