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Free-For-All Friday: Jordan Bohannon, Graduate Transfers and the Final Four

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Lots of talk about where Jordan Bohannon goes from here this week. What does it all mean for the Hawkeyes?

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Iowa State
Jordan Bohannon left it all on the court in Ames. Was that it for him in an Iowa uniform?
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday everyone. It’s been a long week fully of emotion and a mix of good and bad news. On the one hand, Iowa fans lost a legend who impacted all our lives this week. We also learned our star point guard and fan favorite Jordan Bohannon is hanging it up for the year. On the other end of the spectrum, we had the early signing period open up on Wednesday and Iowa inked 20 commitments in what is poised to be their best recruiting class since 2005.

Now it’s nearly the final weekend before the Christmas holiday next week and not a soul is actually working, not even a mouse. So buckle up. It’s Friday and it’s a free-for-all!

JP: Well hello, Jerry.

Jerry: HELLLLLOOOOO JP -

I think it’s beyond time to talk about the Franimal House and in particular, the news that came out this weeka bout JoBo. We all heard a few weeks ago that this was on the horizon and I think we all prepped ourselves for this moment to come, BUT, I have to ask... why are Iowa fans so sure that JoBo won’t look around the college basketball landscape at the end of the season and become a grad transfer? Surely there are many, many elite teams that have real Final Four aspirations out there that could use his talents and while I know he loves Iowa and our fanbase, are you as certain as everyone else that he’ll just turn a blind eye to say, Coach K or Jay Wright asking him if he’d like to bomb 3’s for their Championship caliber teams?

Or am I just being the big bad wolf pessimist again?

Also, on a lighter note, how excited are you to watch (FILL IN THE BLANK WITH ANOTHER IOWA PLAYER NOT NAMED LUKA GARZA) to take the reigns in JoBo’s stead?

JP: Buddy, I am glad you asked because I have #taeks. Boy do I have takes.

Let me start with this year and how this team moves forward. I’m just going to come right out with it: I think this team still makes the tourney. I think they start with a neutral court win over Cincy tomorrow, get a gimme against Kennessaw State next week and then head into the meat of the Big Ten Schedule at 10-3 and needing to go .500 down the stretch to get in. The Big Ten slate is going to be a gauntlet, but that’s very doable.

And since you brought it up, I AM jazzed to see Joe Toussaint get additional minutes at the point and CJ Fredrick and Joe Wieskamp take more shots. This team feels so much like a mid-major that makes a run I can’t help but be excited. I love that Fran doesn’t have the ability to go deep in his bench. I love that he won’t be able to pull Toussaint for making a boneheaded turnover. I love that he’s going to be forced to play four guards almost exclusively. I love that the starters not named Luka Garza are going to be forced to play a TON of minutes.

You know why? Because those guys have IT. They have confidence and fire and want to. They get after it on defense and none of them is afraid to take a shot. Is Iowa a shooter short now? Yes. Will they have an even bigger chip on their shoulder? Yes. This team is built to knock some people off.

AND THEY’RE ALL COMING BACK!

That’s why Bohannon isn’t transferring for his second senior season. Will he have a chance to? You’re damn right. But he would be a role player at any of those places. He will be the guy in Iowa City. Jordan Bahonnon wants to be THE guy. He NEEDS to be THE guy. It’s in his blood. And this team, a year from now, with everyone back except Kriener, is a team that can challenge for the Final Four. I’m not saying they’re getting there, but they certainly will have everything it takes to get it done.

Here, have some of the Kool-Aid!

As a slight aside, I sure hope you’ve seen the fantastic threads Hawkeye Twitter has been passing around with the whole JoBo decision. “Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon will have hip surgery and miss the remainder of the season. Will be interesting to see whether he stays at Iowa next season or takes over Free-For-All Friday at BHGP.”

Jerry: Wow. Wow. Wow. When did we switch bodies? When did you become the Pie in the Sky captain of FFF? How did we switch places? Is this Freaky Friday?

Let’s start with the positives: I ALSO believe that this is a tournament team and I think you hit the nose on the head in regards to why. Fran McCaffery is a natural tinkerer. He likes to try shit out and sometimes it works great, but a lot of the time, it doesn’t. That’s because at a place like Iowa, you’re 10th-17th guys on the bench are normally (but by no means always) practice bodies, walk-ons and/or freshman that aren’t quite ready yet. But McCaffery, gives players opportunities to figure it out on the fly and that’s commendable for a guy trying to recover from the volcano that was Todd Lickliter. But that’s not where this program is anymore. There are real basketball players here with real tournament aspirations. It’s time to hone in on what McCaffery and Iowa do best and that’s the control based tempo offense that pounds the glass featuring a quick point guard or two (who both make good decisions), a lights out shooter, multiple rangey 2-4 guys and a true center.

By simply playing the dudes that run that system best, Iowa is a better team. It’s quite simple.

Now, the question is, who is going to fill in the “lights out shooter” role now without JoBo? My bet is on CJF but I wouldn’t hate it if Luka gets a few more perimeter touches too. In the 10 games that JoBo played, he launched 61 three pointers. Those six shots per game have to go somewhere. Why not let your best all around, All-American make his gravity even stronger by letting him take two to three more long range jumpers per game? He’s currently 11-26 on the season which is pretty game good if you ask me and warranting a little uptick in attempts. If CJF (who is lights out from three right now) and Luka can hover around 42% for the rest of the season, Iowa will almost surely go .500 the rest of the way and get into the tourney...And then lose in the play in game.

KIDDING!

Fran is totally great in February and March..........

Now, to your last point... why is it just presumed that if JoBo were to go to another team with real National Championship aspirations (we’ll get to your #take) that he will simply be some after thought that will only get a few minutes here and there? Like you mentioned, JoBo, if he were to leave, wants to be THE GUY. He NEEDS to be THE GUY. If it’s in his blood, why on earth does everyone just assume he wouldn’t find his way on the floor for meaningful minutes? Do you really think JoBo would grad transfer to sit? HELL NO!

Look, I don’t want the guy to leave either, but if he chooses to leave this Final Four ready team (eye roll), he’s leaving for a legit shot to play for a contender. Period.

Now, can you please explain to me how you are going to push Iowa into Final Four contender next year? Look, I hope you’re right, but that’s a big leap of faith based on the cards on the table.

JP: Let me be clear: we did not switch places. I have ALWAYS been on team Fran. I was at his welcome ceremony and from the moment he spoke of fast pace, high scoring offense I was all in. I lived through Todd Lickliter and I haven’t forgotten it. But for whatever reason, somebody went #1 in your Cheerios midway through football season and all of a sudden you’ve lost faith.

Now, as to JoBo heading elsewhere, I’m just going to copy and paste some things here.

Me: “he would be a role player at any of those places.”

You: “why is it just presumed that if JoBo were to go to another team with real National Championship aspirations (we’ll get to your #take) that he will simply be some after thought that will only get a few minutes here and there?”

My answer? Me: “he would be a role player at any of those places.”

I don’t think he would only get a few minutes somewhere else. He might even have a chance to be a starter somewhere else with national title potential. But there’s no guarantee of that. There’s no lock he gels with the other players or fits with the coaching staff or the offensive system or any of that. He WILL at Iowa. He will be THE guy. He will have the green light as soon as he steps into the gym. He will have the ball in his hands bringing it up the court and when he doesn’t the offense is literally designed for everyone not named Luka Garza to screen for him to get him open looks. There is nowhere in the country that will give him that AND the potential for a better season than Iowa can have next year.

On that note, you’re goddamn right I think this team can make a run next year. If you don’t, you’re a downer. A party pooper. That’s why we invited you – every party has a pooper.

You’re going to, with a straight face, tell me this team returns everyone except Ryan Kriener and Bakari Evelyn, adds in another back-to-the-basket big man, a pair of rangy forwards and two more ball handlers who can defend the perimeter and get into the lane and you aren’t excited? Let me remind you the existing roster includes an All-American at center (nobody is contesting that he will be an All-American at this rate, right?), their first NBA draft pick in 5 years (and just the 4th in the last two decades) at SF, the best shooter in program history a SG/PG, the best pure PG we’ve seen under Fran (like Fran, I’ve been conducting the Joe Toussaint hype train since the moment I watched his first highlight video and I’m not jumping off now).

What we’ve seen from the team this year, with Bohannon hindered but playing, has been a team that looks better than the one who took Tennessee to OT and was THIS close to the Sweet 16. But I’m nuts for thinking a healthy JoBo plus everything they add with this recruiting class, getting Patrick McCaffery and Jack Nunge back AND everyone with another year of experience has a chance to win two more games in the Tournament than last year’s team did? Nah bro, we didn’t switch places, you just turned into Scrooge before Christmas.

Jerry: Have you ever thought about how easy it might be for JoBo to get those shots off on a team loaded with 5-stars? Yes, Iowa as a whole team works to get him open looks and that’s great. JoBo has been the center of Iowa’s gravity for a very long time and it’s delivered us many, many great moment. But can it not also be true that as some schmucky “role player” on a blue blood that the looks he would get would be the easiest of his career allowing JoBo to be the most efficient version of himself? I’d argue HELL YES BROTHER!

Plus, and I can’t emphasize this enough, JoBo is smart enough to know that IF IF IF he were to transfer, it’s only to be a “starter”. Jobo is smart enough to make sure that IF IF IF he were to transfer, he’ll “gel” with the team and “coaching staff” and “offensive system”. JoBo is smart enough to make sure that IF IF IF he were to transfer that he will 100% have the “ ball in his hands bringing it up the court”.

Will the offense only be around him at this make believe blue blood program? Maybe not. Probably not. But do you really think that will stop him from getting his shots up?

In the words of Kevin McCallister to the stranger cashier, “IIIIIIIIIIIII don’t think so!”

THE GUY DOESN’T ALL OF A SUDDEN STOP BEING THE GUY BECAUSE HE GETS BETTER TEAMMATES! COME ON JP! YOU PLAYED COLLEGE FOOTBALL! YOU ARE AN ATHLETE. YOU HAVE OLD MAN POST MOVES! THE GUY DOESN’T STOP BEING THE GUY! IF THIS DUDE IS ALL YOU SAY HE IS, THAT’S JUST WHO HE IS AND WHO HE ALWAYS WILL BE. HE’LL BE THE GUY AT IOWA AND AT VILLANOVA AND AT ENTERPRISE RENT-A-CAR AFTER HIS CAREER IS OVER!

I don’t even know how I keeping landing on this side of arguments... actually, scratch that, yes I do. I’m the voice of Chicago Reason. I live in the grey area. Maybe that’s the “big city” in me. But the more and more I dive into the minds of Iowa fans, the more I realize that everything seems to be black or white. It’s like the Force (sorry, I’m a nerd and it’s all I keep thinking about). There is only the light or the dark and you need to choose a side. You cannot meddle in the middle. You can’t possibly harness the dark while also appreciating the light. You can’t like Kirk Ferentz but also be critical of 8 or 9 wins. You can’t love JoBo but understand that there might be another opportunity out there that might benefit him a little more to achieve his dreams that’s not playing at Iowa.

But there is a grey area, JP. There just is. You can’t tell me that this guy is going to lead Iowa to the Final Four but can’t still score 18 points a game on a contender. It’s moronic!

Now, with that said, you did talk me into next year with a JoBo return being really, really successful and I’m excited for that ride.

The funny part about you talking me into that though, is that once again, I took in more information and floated from the dark side back towards the light... AKA THE GREY AREA... proving my entire point.

JP: So what I’m taking away here is you are Darth Vader. You went to the dark side and at the end of the day, you came back to me. Are you my father?