The Mayor vs The Hawkeyes
Ok, I have to get this out of the way, because what I’m about to say sickens me. I like and respect a former Iowa State Cyclone and current Nebraska Cornhusker coach. Ugg. That kinda gave me the “spits”. Now before I get too carried away I’m not talking Georges Niang or Scott “Clap” Frost. Growing up in Iowa everyone knew The Mayor. He was the kid from Ames who won a state title, Mr. Basketball, and then starred for the Cyclones for four years. I couldn’t stand Johnny Orr (Tim Floyd one year) nor Iowa State, but dang, Fred could play. Unfortunately, Fred Hoiberg has had great success against the Hawkeyes. As a player Hoiberg went 3-1 against the Hawkeyes. His one loss against the Hawks was Chris Street’s final year. Hoiberg coached at his alma mater from 2010-2015. I had to double check that. He was only there for 5 seasons; it felt like 10. Maybe it’s because he has been synonymous with Iowa State/Ames for thirty years. Fred Hoiberg and Fran McCaffery first coached head-to-head in 2010; it was Fran’s first year at Iowa. Hoiberg has gone 5-2 against McCaffery. These have been close contests; the Cyclones/Cornhuskers have averaged 79.3 points per game while the Hawkeyes have averaged 78.7. If the Hawks can get out to a quick start, the Hawkeyes should make Fred 8-4 against the good guys. If we let them hand around for a while, it’s a tossup.
The Game Ball, Supplied by the Home Team, Plays a Big Role
Home field/arena advantage is a huge thing in sports, even during the Covid pandemic. One additional aspect of this applies when the Hawkeyes face off against the Cornhuskers. The home team supplies the basketball. In football, teams supply their own balls. Thursday’s game is in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes favor a Nike basketball, while the Cornhuskers play with an Adidas ball. Generally speaking the Nike ball is a little more “tacky” while the Adidas ball has a more slippery feel to it. Last year at Nebraska the Hawks lost to a bad Nebraska team. Iowa was 4-33 from 3 points (12.1%). Most notable of this, Joe Wieskamp was 1-10 from deep and Luka Garza was 0-4. In the same game the Cornhuskers shot 38.5% from three.
Fast forward to Iowa City in the second meeting between the two teams last year and the Hawkeyes shot 39.3% (11-28) and Nebraska was 5-25 (20%). I like the fact our guys are shooting their preferred basketball this Thursday.
Nebraska Is Coming In With a Two-Game Winning Streak
In the history of sport when one team thinks they can compete with another team half the battle is won. It’s the age-old thing where a great team lets a garbage team hang around. Once the inferior team thinks, “We can do this” the better team has their hands full. A great deal of basketball is played between the ears. Nebraska is coming off a 78-74 victory over the Gophers (bye Richie Pitino) and a 72-51 thrashing of Rutgers. The Hawkeyes have a ginormous #5 target on their backs and they will need to play good, fundamental basketball to get the win.
Nebraska has Lat Mayen (6-9, Jr. Forward) who is coming off a 25 point effort against Rutgers. He was 5-7 from deep.
Here’s Mayen again with a nice kiss off the glass.
A 6’9” player that can shoot from range and mid-range like that can be a tough matchup. Keegan Murray would be a logical choice to defend him when the Hawks are in man-to-man.
Feed Garzilla (Not Rocket Science)
In my opinion there should not be many offensive possessions where Luka Garza does not touch the basketball. If you are Joe Wieskamp getting a wide-open three in transition or Jordan Bohannon when he’s on fire, cool. Otherwise, the Big Fella should touch the ball almost every offensive possession. Good things happen when the ball goes into the post. Luka is already atop the Hawkeye Mount Rushmore. #55 will be in the rafters at Carver and our next arena even. For all of the great stellar plays Luka has made this year, this might possibly be my favorite. It is the cerebral, unselfish Luka that will win the National Player of the Year award.
Teams have been digging down and flying guys at Luka. This play is a terrific, fundamental basketball play where he takes a dribble away from traffic, pivots, and fires a diagonal/opposite pass to a wide-open Jordan Bohannon. Put three on the board and run down the other way. Luka continues to get his own points and routinely allows his teammates to get easy looks because of all of the attention he garners. Look for Garza to eat down low and to facilitate three balls for Wiesy, JBo, and CFred. That way we can send Coach Hoiberg back to Nebby with a loss. Go Hawks!