One may have expected a little bit of the Hawkeyes pumping the brakes facing a Northern Illinois team that was sandwiched between UNC/Iowa State and Gonzaga. Not so fast, my friends. For one, Luka Garza is about the surest thing in college basketball. You could set your watch to his production. Secondly, Iowa has talented basketball players who are competitive and share the ball. The only thing that ever is in doubt is how the Hawks will look on the defensive end. Early on (14:03) the game was tied at 10-10. Three minutes later the Hawks were up 20-10. The game was never in question again. The Hawkeyes won going away by a score of 106-53.
Garza, Wieskamp, CMac
Luka Garza did Luka Garza things. In not many minutes of work, Luka had a line of 23 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 0 turnovers. Luka will be double and triple teamed in the post this year, taking care of the ball and limiting his turnovers, and piling up assists, will go a long way in determining the success the Iowa team has this year. This will be worth watching all year long.
Joe Wieskamp is putting together a very nice stretch of games. Joe is becoming a complete player. Wiesy is doing a very nice job of putting the ball and the floor and taking it to the rack. He also is doing a nice job of timing his cuts to get easy layups. Wieskamp ended the day with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. Neither Wieskamp nor Garza played more than 20 minutes.
Connor McCaffery continues to be the hard-nosed glue guy for this team. Connor had 5 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and just 1 turnover.
Iowa appears to have a 9 man rotation. This is not too big of a rotation. In past years Coach Fran has had too big of a rotation. The difference is that this year Iowa has 9 players who play at a high level and they have complementary skillsets. Keegan Murray stuffed the stat sheet with 10 pts, 5 reb, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks. That’s incredible production out of the true freshman. Patrick McCaffery had a tremendous game. He ended the day with 14 points, 4 rebounds, and maybe most importantly, PMac was 4-4 from the free throw line after struggling earlier this season. When his arc is good he can shoot it. When his free throw and jump shot shooting motion is toward the basket he will continue to struggle. He was seen getting up extra shots and he was specifically working on his motion being up instead of out. This Iowa team is not afraid of putting work in.
Iowa’s offense is so potent that at times it becomes easy for the Hawkeyes to not value every defensive possession. I’m not saying they don’t, but it seems only natural that if you struggle scoring points you’d dang well better be able to stop someone else from scoring. This team can score almost at will. It’s been much-documented that in order to advance in tournament settings, you’ve got to get defensive stops. Iowa held to Northern Illinois to 34.3% shooting and just 13.3% from three point land. That will win us a lot of games. Iowa did give up 20 offensive rebounds to the Huskies. This cannot happen. Good teams, especially good teams who can shoot, will make you pay for giving up offensive rebounds. Iowa continues to get significant minutes for bench players. This will help them considerably if they are called on because of injuries or Covid. I also think our defense will improve when we are playing only our 9 man rotation as the players will become more familiar with each other, especially when it comes to zone coverage and rotations.