This was supposed to be my week off. I was supposed to be spending my time further breaking down Kirk Ferentz and company’s recruiting class of 2019. After a few weeks of actually overreacting each Monday, I was supposed to be getting my mind leveled out.
For all those reasons, I had resigned to not watching much of the second half of Sunday night’s game. While I might have otherwise been glued to the TV, laptop in hand, I was OK turning the game off and letting my fury settle while I put our under-two-year-old to bed. After a weekend full of excitement from our two boys, that’s what I was supposed to be doing. And given how miserable most of the game had been to watch, I was more or less OK with what I was supposed to be doing.
Jordan Bohannon did not care what I was supposed to be doing. So when I, naturally, pulled out my phone for the 6th or 7th time and saw that Iowa has turned what had been a 15 point deficit with 4:30 to play into a 10 point deficit with 3:20 to play, I succumbed to my inner fandom. The little guy was all but asleep so I opted to lay down in bed with him and the TV on mute (if you’ve never been a parent, let me just say this is way more common than you can imagine).
The next three minutes and twenty seconds of game time were something I can rarely recall experiencing as an Iowa fan. If anything, it was the exact opposite of every experience I’ve had in a situation like that. I’ve spilt plenty of digital ink rehashing what every Hawkeye fan goes through both on a macro level with a successful season and on a micro level with individual games. No matter how things are going, we’ve become programmed to expect the worst to be just around the corner. Having an undefeated season? There’ll be a mind-numbingly long drive to kill the clock and your dreams with a single outstretched arm at the goal line. Rolling into the NCAA Tournament as a 3-seed? Northwestern State. Making a crazy, late game comeback against a team you were supposed to beat by 10? You’ll miss the game-winner.
Before its win vs. Northwestern, Iowa faced 31 situations over the last 6 yrs where it was tied/down 3 points or less inside of 11 seconds left in regulation or OT. Iowa put up 29 shots/made only 5.— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) February 11, 2019
With @JordanBo_3 this team is different. It's dangerous.https://t.co/OnCklDxhiH
It was running through everyone’s mind Sunday night. There was no way to climb out of that hole. Surely Northwestern wouldn’t miss the free throws. Well, even if they did, Iowa couldn’t possibly knock down enough shots to make it a real comeback.
And even if all the stars actually aligned, there was no way they were knocking down the last second shot. Iowa doesn’t have the guy that rips an opponent’s heart out. WE GET OUR HEARTS RIPPED OUT, DAMN IT!
For all our lives as Iowa fans, that’s been true. But for all our lives, the Hawkeyes haven’t had Jordan Bohannon. Jordan Bohannon IS that guy. He’s the kid at Northwestern State that hits a prayer. He’s the guy at Wisconsin that goes nuts and hits 6 straight threes and puts a dagger in us. He’s the guy that doesn’t care what the situation is or how many shots he’s made or missed or how open he is, he’s taking the shot with the game on the line. And he’s making it.
And he’s a Hawkeye.
Thats why, at approximately 7:40 on a Sunday night in early February, I found myself laying in bed with a 22-month old sleeping child, screaming my head off. In silence.
Like so many times before, I watched with anticipation as each shot fell. I maintained my skepticism with each missed free throw. And when Iowa had the ball, holding for one last shot, down just 2, I was certain they would find a way to turn the ball over or fail to get a good look. My heart sunk when Connor McCaffery telegraphed a pass with just under 4 seconds remaining and I watched a Northwestern defender take the turnover as we’ve seen so many times before in end of half situations.
When all that came to a head, I was still certain the shot wouldn’t fall. I’m an Iowa fan, that shot never goes in. And so I screamed. I screamed and I shook my fists and I nearly woke a sleeping child.
Because Jordan Bohannon is different. He isn’t like any other Iowa player I can recall. He may not be the prototypical point guard Hawkeye fans have longed for, but he’s the one who can change who we are.
This Iowa team, like Bohannon, is different. There is no February swoon coming this season. There will almost certainly be losses, especially if the team plays like they did for 35 minutes Sunday night, but they will be limited. This team will be dancing, now they’re simply playing for seeding.
That’s not something we’ve seen for some time. This Iowa team has a chance to win 23 games in the regular season for the first time since 1986-87. With the combination of depth in the front court (Tyler Cook is going to continue to be a force, but if Luka Garza can stay out of foul trouble and Ryan Kriener can get any consistency, this will be one of the most difficult to guard front courts anywhere), versatility on the wing with “Just Joe” Wieskamp and Isaiah Moss, and the ice water in Jordan Bohannon’s veins, this team is built to make the first run beyond the Round of 32 for Iowa basketball since 1999.
For all its shortcomings and warts, this Iowa team is on the verge of being historically great. They’ve avoided bad losses at every turn, something any Iowa fan can attest is not common. They’ve got their signature win and proven they can beat good teams on a neutral court or on the road. Sunday night, they proved they’re never truly out of a game. They fought through adversity and closed, something that will be critical in the mayhem of March.
Perhaps more than anything, they proved this team is different. Jordan Bohannon is different. And I’m ready to scream my head off long into March. In silence or not.