Well that was a crappy way for the men’s basketball season to end. This probably isn’t the time to say the season ends crappy for over 99% of college basketball teams but I did anyways.
Yet with the closing of one door, a window opens or, more precisely a portal. The transfer portal. In the debut of this potentially recurring column, we’ll take a look at some things we’d like to see out of Iowa sports before they return in 2021.
Item #1: A strong performance tomorrow out of Iowa against Connecticut
Yeah, I spelled it out. I find that going with “Connecticut” vs. “UConn” reduces some of the aura Geno Auriemma has created around the stalwart in the women’s game. With Iowa playing in their own time window* on the marquee channel - ABC - it’s such a great opportunity for Bluder’s Bunch to showcase what Iowa basketball is all about.
Obviously the talk will begin with Caitlin Clark & Paige Bueckers, but there’s a lot to be stoked about this matchup, even though Iowa is a decided underdog. Can Iowa slice up the Huskies’ press? Are they able to be patient and get Monica Czinano going down low? Will the defense, which gives up the most PPG in the country, give Clark a chance to bring it home with her heroics? We’ll see!
* not only is it genuinely exciting there’s not a single other basketball game at 12:00 CDT, but the hype Clark is getting around the country is absolutely fantastic and fun to see play out.
Item #2: Athleticism for the men’s basketball team
There is probably room to go really deep on who Iowa should target in the transfer portal but from my standpoint, it begins & ends with athleticism. Fran McCaffery has shown that he can construct a top 25 offense out of a variety of different pieces so I trust, perhaps to a dangerous degree, he’ll be able to do the same even if everyone presumed gone - Luka Garza & Jordan Bohannon for sure, Joe Wieskamp almost assuredly - does depart. That looks like, your mileage may vary on the delineation:
PG: Joe Toussaint/Ahron Ulis
Guards: CJ Fredrick/Connor McCaffery/Tony Perkins
Wings: Keegan Murray/Patrick McCaffery/Kris Murray/Payton Sandfort
Bigs: Jack Nunge/Josh Ogundele
(starters in bold in this hypothetical; also not looking forward to misspelling Sandfort’s name a dozen different ways throughout his career)
While I’m of, presumably, a minority opinion who’s willing to see 15 minutes of Keegan at the “5” a night, with Nunge coming off an injury a reliable big is probably priority #1 this offseason. My personal preference would be the newly departed Myles Johnson from Rutgers, coming off averages of 8 points & 8 rebounds in 25 minutes. The
scuttlebutt reply guys, though, insinuates this is as much an academic decision as it is a basketball one and while his efficiency is impressive, it gets decidedly less so when he gets to the charity stripe.
Another guy who fits that mold is Race Thompson out of Indiana at 9 points & 6 boards in 28 minutes. If Iowa is looking to fill the scoring void left by Garza, though, UMass’s Tre Mitchell is by far the most enticing. The 6’9” forward has an inside out game at 18 PPG over 40 games, 7.2 boards, a career 56.6% eFG%, and 1.2 blocks/game. He’ll probably have bluer bloods calling but few can demonstrate the willingness to run their offense through a premier post that Iowa can.
I’m next looking along the wing and there are a number “3 & D” guys who could contribute in a Hawkeye rotation. From the above link, three stick out:
- Myreon Jones (senior, Penn State): 15 PPG, 40% from 3, 30 MPG
- Seth Lundy (junior, Penn State): 10 PPG, 32% from 3 (39% in 2020), 24 MPG
- Al Durham (super senior, Indiana): 11 PPG, 38% from 3, 33 MPG
Without Wieskamp, there’s a role for any of these guys on Iowa’s roster, if Fran pursues it. Their inclusion would grant additional runway for the development of Tony Perkins, specifically.
And yeah, this is a wish list so I fully expect Iowa to pursue none of them.
Item #3: Health & wellness
Spring football is around the corner, Iowa basketball is a MASH unit. Stay healthy and/or get healthy.
And that’s all I got!