Iowa basketball’s scheduled slowed down a bit during the last half of December (only two games after Dec. 12), but with a jam-packed January already here, let’s take a look at who’s up and who’s down in this week’s edition of Iowa basketball Stock Watch.
Stock up: Ryan Kriener
This season, when it comes to Iowa big men, there’s Luka Garza and... well, that’s it.
Garza has been so dominant, he’s overshadowed the fact that the Hawkeyes are in dire need for some offensive production from their bigs.
Enter Ryan Kriener, who played arguably his best game in an Iowa uniform in the win against Kennesaw State. Kriener scored a career-high 20 points off the bench, hitting all nine of his field goal attempts from the floor. Throw in a made 3-pointer for fun, too.
It was a night of buckets for Kriener, who hadn’t made nine attempts in his last three games combined.
Listen, I’m not here to advocate for Iowa running a big lineup. I love the small-ball lineup Fran McCaffery has gone with recently (Joe Toussaint, Connor McCaffery, CJ Fredrick, Joe Wieskamp, and Garza).
However, should Fran McCaffery opt to run with a big lineup at times, Kriener’s performance gives some sort of hope that he can help balance out the scoring when he’s paired with Garza, who leads the Hawkeyes with a 31.5 usage percentage.
Stock up(ish): Bakari Evelyn
Listen, as much as I love to consider Stock Watch a big overreaction (which, I guess, it is), I can’t buy fully into Bakari Evelyn. Let’s put it this way: I have my eyes glued to him these next few games.
Evelyn put together an intriguing performance in the win over Cincinatti, proving how valuable of an offseason addition be was. Evelyn 15 points off the bench and canned three of his four 3-point attempts and was a huge spark for Iowa.
Here’s my cause for hesitation: This is the same Bakari Evelyn that scored three points or fewer in eight games this season and boasts a team-worst 37.3 turnover percentage (he had five giveaways against Cincinnati).
Getting these scoring barrages off the bench from Evelyn is so valuable for Iowa. It may take some time to settle into Iowa’s system, but I think this next month has the potential to be big for Evelyn in terms of cementing himself in Iowa’s seven-man rotation.
He’s a serviceable shooter (36.8 percent from 3-point range) but needs to be consistent.
Stock up: Joe Toussaint
Just as I complained about how Evelyn was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that’s exactly how Joe Toussaint played in Iowa’s wins over Cincinnati and Kennesaw State.
The reason why his stock is up, though, is because his performance against the Owls seemed on-par for what I (along with others) have come to expect in his early Hawkeye career.
Toussaint scored six points and reached career-bests in assists (seven) and steals (five). I’m beginning to like this paring between him and Connor McCaffery, because both players have embraced the facilitator role.
What McCaffery doesn’t bring, though, is Toussaint’s aggression when it comes to driving to the rim. Toussaint averages 10.7 free-throw attempts per 100 possessions — essentially going to the line every 10 (or so) possessions, the same as Garza. For comparison, here’s how Toussaint’s free-throw attempts per 100 possessions stack up with the rest of the Iowa starters:
- Toussaint: 10.7
- Garza: 10.7
- McCaffery: 6
- Wieskamp: 4.2
- Fredrick: 4.1
I will add for as composed as Toussaint looked against Kennesaw State, things fell off the rails against Cincinnati. Toussaint played less than four minutes, didn’t attempt a shot, committed three fouls, and turned the ball over three times on Dec. 22. But, as noted, he bounced back quite nicely against Kennesaw State a week later.
Stock up: Joe Wieskamp
Back after Iowa’s win against Iowa State, I wrote about Wieskamp finally getting into a groove. Against Minnesota and Iowa State, Wieskamp scored a combined 36 points, his second-best two-game stretch of his career.
In the two-game stretch against Cincinatti and Kennesaw State, Wieskamp dropped 34 points — not a bad follow-up.
Look at how his numbers stack up before and after the win against Minnesota:
- Nine games before Minnesota: 10.7 points per game on 39.8 percent shooting
- Past four games: 17.5 points per game on 54.2 percent shooting
It’s no surprise Iowa’s won those four games.