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Iowa Hawkeyes Basketball: Minutes Breakdown and Lineup Possibilities

Versatility is the name of the game in Iowa City with the Hawkeyes' deep lineup. Wait, correction: basketball is the name of the game. Basketball, what we're looking for. (taps notecards)


One of the more beautiful yet frustrating aspects of basketball is that you can only have five guys on the court at the same time. Great for spacing and gameplay, not so great for teams that have more than five really good players--like, let's say, Iowa. Like, how is Iowa supposed to top those bros with the 8-man alley-oops at the pool if the Hawkeyes only get to use five guys at a time?

These jackasses don't even play college basketball.

So here's a look at how Iowa's going to conform to these stupid "five players at all times" rules the NCAA has foisted upon the Hawkeyes (and everyone else but shhhh).

The Players

Mike Gesell, 6'1" sophomore

Potential positions: 1, 2

Iowa's point guard of the future found himself the off-guard of right about now (the funk soulbrotherBOOYA!) during his freshman season as Iowa worked with both Gesell and fellow point guard Anthony Clemmons on the court at the same time. Gesell eventually settled into his role as the starting point guard, but a crowded landscape at the 1 will limit Gesell's minutes.

Projected minutes per game: 20

Anthony Clemmons, 6'1" sophomore

Potential positions: 1, 2

Breakdown: Clemmons is far better served running the point than as an off-guard. His productivity as a freshman belies that fact: Clemmons shot better than fellow guard Gesell and turned the ball over more often, but in terms of the offense running smoothly Gesell functions better away from the ball and working off screens than Clemmons does.

Projected minutes per game: 12-15

Roy Devyn Marble, 6'6" senior

Potential positions: 1, 2, 3

Breakdown: Iowa's offensive workhorse over the last few seasons, Marble now finds himself in the unfamiliar situation of having a considerable amount of help in scoring this year. He can play three positions comfortably and probably will do exactly that in just about every game, as matchups dictate. Fran has the luxury of being able to sit Marble for extended stretches thanks to depth, but Marble is Iowa's best player and it would be a stunner if he didn't lead the team in minutes.

Projected minutes per game: 30-32

Josh Oglesby, 6'5" junior

Potential positions: 2

Iowa's three-point ace ("ace") took a long step back last year, hampering the Hawkeyes' efforts behind the arc. By all accounts he's an assassin in practice and he's working on getting his gameday yips under control, but even if he starts hitting 3s at a 35-40% clip he's still a specialist at this point, and if his shot's not falling, his utility relative to the rest of the team is greatly diminished. Thus, it's on Oglesby to earn his PT with every 3 he makes.

Projected minutes per game: 0-10

Peter Jok, 6'6" freshman

Potential positions: 2, 3

Breakdown: Only necessity would put Jok at the 2, it seems, but his stroke is good enough that Fran may see some use in going PG-Jok-F-F-C against bigger opponents. His ball-handling could still use some improvement, though, and as such look for the lion's share of minutes to come at the crowded 3 spot. Jok has a bright, bright future in the black and gold, and he may be a 30-minute player by even next season, but for right now don't be surprised if he sees a more situational role.

Projected minutes per game: 10-15

Jarred Uthoff, 6'9" sophomore

Potential positions: 3, 4

Breakdown: Another vaunted newcomer, Uthoff has the game to play inside or outside for the Hawkeyes and may make himself valuable enough that Iowa coaches have to build the lineup around him--which seems easy enough, given Uthoff's versatility. As it stands, Uthoff is in the deepest part of the roster which means more limited minutes than his talent would indicate, but if Iowa has to pare down to an 8- or 9-man rotation (as most teams do over the course of a season) it seems like a foregone conclusion that Uthoff would remain heavily involved.

Projected minutes per game: 20

Aaron White, 6'9" junior

Potential positions: 3, 4

Breakdown: The second half of Iowa's heart and soul along with Marble (Is it racist to assign "heart" to White and "soul" to Marble? Probably a little bit, right?), White can play inside or outside, and he did it well enough to earn his way onto the USA World University Games team in Sochi this offseason. White seems to want the outside part of his game more than have it (his jumper's decent but inconsistent), so in such a loaded lineup, expect to see him sticking to the inside more often this year. Still, he's too good to stay off the floor for very long.

Projected minutes per game: 25-30

Zach McCabe, 6'7" senior

Potential positions: 3, 4

Breakdown: McCabe gets brought in for his outside shooting, some of the best on the team last year, but he's got a nose for defense--often to his own detriment as he loses virtually every 50-50 call. McCabe can hit the boards reasonably well too, and he can punish teams who try to stick a smaller defender on him by going inside and using his decent post game. McCabe is likely the primary victim of minute scarcity, as he just doesn't alter shots well enough to be a necessary component on defense. He should be a fan favorite in his swan song senior year, though, and if he finally starts getting those charge calls, he could be a well-appreciated sparkplug.

Projected minutes per game: 8-10

Melsahn Basabe, 6'7" senior

Potential positions: 4

Breakdown: Basabe is who he is at this point, a slightly undersized high-motor guy who punishes sloppy play on the interior on both sides of the ball. His determination after a pronounced sophomore slump is admirable and has helped shape the tough profile of this team. The days of expecting 15 and 10 from Basabe are over, but that doesn't make him any less integral to the Hawkeyes' succeess.

Projected minutes per game: 15-20

Darius Stokes, 6'7" junior

Potential positions: 4

Breakdown: Stokes is finally on scholarship, and McCaffrey wouldn't have given the ship out if Stokes wasn't going to contribute this year or next. So one would think, anyway. But Stokes seems like a less explosive, disruptive Basabe, and that's not conducive to playing time on this roster.

Projected minutes per game: 0-3

Kyle Meyer, 6'10" freshman

Potential positions: 4, 5

Breakdown: You can't teach 6'10", and Meyer's a heck of an insurance policy if one of the bigs goes down. But it's awfully difficult to see where his minutes come from on a healthy lineup.

Projected minutes per game: 0-3

Adam Woodbury, 7'1" sophomore

Potential positions: 5

Breakdown: Woodbury is arguably the most important player on this team, as he's got size and defensive skills that many opponents just can't neutralize. Woody alters so many shots that Iowa defenders can play up on the ball more often, helping limit open perimeter shots and getting wings and the point out on a break more quickly. If Woodbury's offensive skills have progressed, he could be a monster; as it stands, he's already a middle-class Jeff Withey. That's good.

Projected minutes per game: 20-25

Gabe Olaseni, 6'10" junior

Olaseni is rounding into quite a player, which is very encouraging to see. His shot-blocking skills are as good as they've ever been (which you'd hope from a guy with such impressive raw athleticism) and he's learning to use the backboard--or as Olaseni calls it, Trafalgar Square (he does not call it that)--to make himself a more reliable offensive weapon. And he's got a shockingly reliable jumper from a few spots on the court. This must be how Thunder fans have felt watching Serge Ibaka over the last couple years. Anyway, Olaseni's court time is entirely earned and it helps keep pressure off Woodbury to go 40 minutes without getting into foul trouble.

Projected minutes per game: 15-20

Kyle Denning, 6'1" junior; Okey Ukah, 6'6" junior

Breakdown: These guys are walk-ons and if they're in the game, it's either garbage time or something has gone horribly wrong with the guys in front of them.

Lineup breakdown

PG: Gesell, Clemmons, Marble
SG: Marble, Oglesby, Gesell, Clemmons, Jok
SF: Uthoff, Jok, White, McCabe
PF: White, Basabe, Uthoff, Stokes, Meyer
C: Woodbury, Olaseni, Meyer

So, go ahead and mix and match that lineup however you'd like; there are roughly a million different combinations available (that number is probably way off but we are bad at math), and Iowa can adapt to just about any opponent's strength or weakness--with it. Here are a few examples.

The starters

Gesell, Marble, Uthoff, White, Woodbury

This lineup has enough size on the interior to disrupt most opposing offenses, two capable ball-handlers on the perimeter, decent outside shooting from everyone whose last name doesn't end in "oodbury" and a couple matchup nightmares in Uthoff and White, who can take defenders out of their comfort zones.

Bombs away

Marble, Oglesby, Jok, McCabe, Woodbury

Four of Iowa's best deep threats on the floor at the same time and a giant in the middle to clean up on the offensive glass--plus enough size on defense that the Hawkeyes can't just get worked left and right on the other side of the court.

The elder statesmen

Marble, Oglesby, McCabe, Basabe, Olaseni

A combined 18 years of Iowa careers on the court, a pair of zone-busters and Iowa's best playmaker. Perimeter defense isn't great but the shotblocking is stellar.

Kids these days

Clemmons, Gesell, Jok, Uthoff, Woodbury

All freshmen and sophomores on the court with a specialty in outside shooting and (yet again) length on the interior. Get used to these guys, because most of them will probably be making up Iowa's best lineup in a couple years.


Marble, Jok, Uthoff, White, Woodbury

That's an average height of 6'8.2" on the court, and fully functional on the outside and inside on both offense and defense. Ball-handling is adequate, but the defense is monstrous--especially with White able to D up practically anybody on the floor (and those who he can't, Woodbury can).

Crunch time

Clemmons, Marble, White, Basabe, Woodbury

You can probably cycle in a guy like Uthoff or a 3-point specialist for Woodbury depending on the other team's personnel setup and endgame situation, but in terms of who you want on the floor when it all comes down, this is probably it. Any play you want to run on offense is on the board. Defense has post presence, weakside help, perimeter length and Iowa's best defender at the point. You ride or die with these guys, and I don't think it's looking good for "die."

What lineup are you most looking forward to? Where will the newcomers end up on the totem pole when the lineup gets tightened up? Whos playing time are we dead wrong about? Don't you hate pants?