What a disastrous Tuesday that was for Iowa basketball.
It started with CJ Fredrick in a boot and ended with Iowa scratching its head after a 76-70 loss to Nebraska.
In this week’s Stock Watch, we take a look at Iowa’s last two losses: Nebraska and Penn State.
Stock down: 3-point shooting
After hitting 11 triples against Penn State on Jan. 4, things fell off a cliff against Nebraska on Tuesday.
Iowa made just four of its 33 attempts from downtown. That’s 12 percent. In other words, that’s the eighth-worst shooting performance by a Fran McCaffery-coached Iowa team. Here are the seven worse ahead of Tuesday’s loss:
- 0-for-17 vs. Coppin State (12/22/12)
- 0-for-12 vs. Michigan State (3/2/11)
- 1-for-16 vs. Michigan (3/15/19)
- 1-for-13 vs. Indiana (3/2/13)
- 1-for-12 vs. UNI (12/6/11)
- 1-for-10 vs. Penn State (2/3/18)
- 2-for-17 vs. Michigan (2/19/11)
A big reason for the drop-off in production comes from Fredrick’s absence. Fredrick is Iowa’s best 3-point shooter, draining exactly 50 percent of his 3-point attempt this season. He’s uber-consistent; prior to Penn State, Fredrick had eight straight games with at least three 3-pointers.
Iowa needs help from downtown, especially if Fredrick will be out for a while. Guys like Joe Wieskamp (1-for-10 from 3-point range) need to step up.
Stock up: Luka Garza
Three things are certain in life: Death, taxes, and Luka Garza scoring points and grabbing rebounds.
Another milestone for the big fella.— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) January 8, 2020
Luka Garza grabs his third rebound of the game, becoming the 27th Hawkeye to join the 1,000-point/500-rebound club.#Hawkeyes | #FightForIowa pic.twitter.com/06TdEKad3A
The walking double-double cranked out 16 points and 18 rebounds vs. Nebraska after scorching Penn State for 34 and 12. He’s getting attention from the national media, and rightfully so.
But he needs help. Badly.
For as dominant as he’s been, Iowa needs to have a second threat to pair with Garza. Whether that’s Fredrick whenever he returns from injury, Wieskamp, or Joe Toussaint, someone has to step up so that Iowa doesn’t fall into a one-dimensional back hole.
Let’s take a moment to go back to the Penn State game.
Even though Iowa lost, Garza put on one of his best outings in a Hawkeye uniform. It was his fourth game scoring 29 or more points this season, and six of his 12 rebounds came on the offensive glass.
In that same game, he took 14 free throws — 11 more than Iowa took as a TEAM against Nebraska the next game, which brings me to my next point...
Stock down: Free-throw shooting
Iowa took just five attempts from the stripe against Nebraska, making only two.
Against Penn State, Iowa made just 13 of its 20 attempts.
60-percent shooting over a two-game stretch isn’t great, but attempting only five free throws in a game is even worse. The only time Iowa shot fewer free throws? Jan. 19, 2011 against Ohio State.
How does one take only five free-throw attempts, you might ask?
I view that a combination of two things: questionable officiating and a lack of aggression (AKA shooting 33 3-point attempts when nothing is falling).
I will never blame officiating for a loss. After all, the officials didn’t shoot 12 percent from downtown, Iowa did. But five free throw attempts? On what planet does that happen?
Stock down: Bakari Evelyn
Well, it happened.
In the past two games, Evelyn has played a little more than 37 minutes. In that time frame, he’s taken four shots. He hasn’t made one of them.
Evelyn has essentially disappeared since his 15-point outing against Cincinnati on Dec. 21, 2019.
With Fredrick out against Nebraska and Iowa looking to its guards, Evelyn played 14:39, the most minutes of any Hawkeye coming off the bench. He missed all three of his field goals and recorded three personal fouls.
It’s not as if playing time is scarce. Especially now, in the wake of Fredrick’s injury, Evelyn is looking at right around 14-18 minutes per game. It’s about getting integrated into the offense and finding some sort of consistency. Those two concepts go hand-in-hand.
The opportunity is there for Evelyn to step into a sixth-man role. After all, he’s the best (and only) guard coming off Iowa’s bench at this point.