So that sucked!
At least when three games are played in six days, the opportunity to wash the taste out of our mouths from a frustrating loss comes quick, which is exactly what will happen for the #8 Iowa Hawkeyes (13-5, 7-4) as they hit the road to face the Indiana Hoosiers (9-8, 4-6).
Since these two last faced off 16 days ago, Iowa’s gone 1-2 while Indiana has gone 0-2 in two four-point home losses to Rutgers and Illinois. In those two games, IU has been selective and efficient with the three (14/24) with sub-40% shooting percentages inside the arc.
At the risk of being too efficient with words, the Hoosiers haven’t changed drastically since their win in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, short of Trey Galloway returning from injury. Jerome Hunter was the beneficiary of those minutes in Iowa City and scored two points in 22 minutes.
Trayce Jackson-Davis (F, 6’9”, 245 lbs)
vs. Iowa: 23 points, 9/13 shooting, 5/10 FT, 7 rebounds (4 offensive)
since Iowa: 16.0 PPG, 36% FG%, 71% FT%, 10.5 RPG (3 offensive/game)
TJD has played below his potential since facing Iowa, which is fair because they provide stouter interior defense. Like Indiana, at large, there may be no better tonic for offensive woes than playing the Hawks.
Rob Phinisee (G, 6’1”. 187 lbs)
vs. Iowa: 18 points, 6/12 shooting (4/7 from 3), 3 assists, 5 blocks+steals
since Iowa: 3.5 PPG, 22% shooting (33% from 3), 2.5 APG, 2 total blocks+steals
Whaddaya know? Phinisee was well-contained against two teams which prioritize perimeter defense. Some of it was regression - he’s a career 35% shooter & 33% from deep - but it’s clear he was able to get clean looks against Iowa and take advantage.
Race Thompson (F, 6’8”, 228 lbs)
vs. Iowa: 1 point, 5 rebounds, 4 fouls
since Iowa: 14.5 PPG, 5 RPG, 2 fouls/game
Iowa attacked Indiana’s interior which limited Thompson’s impact due to foul trouble. He can, and has, taken advantage of size mismatches like he’s likely see against Iowa.
Defense, lml? 1) Yes, I am making the change from “lol” to Gen Z’s “lml.” Gotta keep myself young.
2) There’s not much else to say other than, at this juncture than to say that Iowa’s #1 & #3 lineups over the last five games - Jordan Bohannon, Connor McCaffery, Joe Wieskamp, Keegan Murray or Jack Nunge, and Luka Garza - need to be better on defense.
It starts, frankly, with effort: fight on screens, close out with hands up, get in opponents’ way, et cetera, et cetera. Iowa does some of that some of the time. If now isn’t the time to do all of that, all of the time...it’s fair to wonder if they really are willing to do what it takes to advance as far as they’d like to.
In other words, hoping these guys will be better than they’ve shown to be on defense over multi-year careers is no longer the way for Fran to coach them without a little bit of tough love.
What does Fran McCaffery want from CJ Fredrick’s minutes? Exploring this question probably requires deeper analysis than this space in a weekend preview. As a starting point, the fact Joe Toussaint and Tony Perkins had just seven combined minutes against Ohio State makes it feel like Coach McCaffery is looking at Fredrick’s value from a purely offensive standpoint.
So when Bohannon & Wieskamp are making shots, the rotations can be deployed in a way to sustain what is lost by Fredrick’s shooting prowess without going deeper than 7 players, which was as deep as Iowa went on Thursday.
Yet that totally undersells what Fredrick brings. He is much more than a premier shooter as the Hawkeyes’ best perimeter defender. Considering Iowa has scored 1.19 points/possession in the three games Iowa has been able to gameplan around his potential absence, the offense doesn’t lose all that much.
The defense, though...see question 1. It’s wild that Iowa misses Fredrick on defense more than offense considering he is career 47% shooter from 3. This is evidenced by the fact that four of Iowa’s six worst defensive PPP games have come in the last four games, where he has been unavailable.
Can Iowa counter Indiana doubles on Garza? In the games since they last played, Iowa has been much more active cutting off-ball towards the lane on double-teams to Garza. It’s a way to manufacture spacing with less capable shooting and Keegan Murray has been particularly great here.
IU forced four turnovers on Garza when they last played each other, as they sent defenders from multiple angles to affect the NPOY frontrunner.
Iowa needs this game in a big way. They’ll need to show they’ve learned lessons from the last time these two faced as well as the frustrating loss on Thursday.
Hopefully progress is shown and the W is brought back from Bloomington.