There's no way to sugarcoat that second half; it simply sucked. The first half wasn't necessarily the prettiest display of offensive basketball we've ever witnessed, but at least the Hawkeyes made a nice run, and with the good defense they were playing, they held a 6 point lead at halftime. That second half, though... I'm not sure if there are any positives to take away from the final 20 minutes of basketball, outside of the fact that Iowa was still only down 6 points with 2:34 left in the game. Take a look at the ugliness for yourself:
5 points. Just 5 measly points scored in the first 10 minutes after the intermission. That's just inexcusable. And it's been inexcusable all five times that it has happened against the five good teams that Iowa has played this season.
I don't know what is going on with the Hawkeyes when they come right out of the locker room at halftime, but they need to figure something out real fast. Big Ten play is almost here.
Four Factors in Review
Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.08, Northern Iowa 0.85
Points Per Possession: Iowa 0.48, Northern Iowa 1.05
Points Per Possession: Iowa 0.76, Northern Iowa 0.96
Northern Iowa slowed down the tempo in this game and made it impossible for the Hawkeyes to get high-percentage looks at the basket in transition. The Hawkeyes had 8 points off of turnovers all game, but none of their points scored were labeled as "fast break points." With only 58 possessions in the game, that meant Iowa was left to execute their half court offense on just about every possession, and unsurprisingly this was a challenge for most of the game. Northern Iowa packed their defense in tight and basically dared the Hawkeyes to shoot the outside shot. Iowa could not hit the outside shot, and with the extra defenders rotating over to help down low, Iowa struggled when they got the ball in the lane.
Now, normally this spot is reserved for me to complain about Iowa's shot selection this season, but I can't do that after this game. Iowa actually made it more of a point to shoot the ball closer to the rim. The only problem? They couldn't make a damn thing from up close.
(Shot charts courtesy of Shot Analytics)
By my count, I classified about 47% of their field goal attempts as coming from near the rim against Northern Iowa. That's a good strategy, considering their season average is about 36% and they are making 63% of those shots. Unfortunately, the execution was lacking. In the first half, Iowa shot 5-13 near the basket, which is not particularly good in itself. However, I would have welcomed a repeat of that in the second half, seeing as they went an amazing 0-11 in the second half. Granted, some of the success they logged down low doesn't show up in the shooting category because they were waved off for drawsing fouls. A lot of the reason for Iowa's increased free throw attempts in the second half was because they were attacking the rim and drawing fouls. Still, Iowa struggled when they got the ball near the basket. Mike Gesell, Peter Jok, Aaron White, and Adam Woodbury were all blanked when it came to shooting near the rim. Add 5-24 from up close to 3-12 from long range, and that's a recipe for offensive disaster.
Northern Iowa, meanwhile, didn't have quite those same issues.
The Panthers didn't shoot the ball all that well in the first half, but the second half saw them put up a 60% eFG% thanks largely to shooting 9/12 from inside the three point line and scoring 16 points in the paint. After being shutout in the first half, Seth Tuttle came to life in the second half and scored 9 points, grabbed 5 defensive rebounds, and blocked 2 shots. And when he wasn't having his way with Iowa down on the block, it was a team effort on the offensive side of the ball for the Panthers. This game came down to who could run their half court offense better, and that team was Northern Iowa.
Oh, and did I mention that I hate how efficient Iowa State and Northern Iowa's offenses are when it comes to their shot-selection? Because I am very jealous, and I hate feeling that jealousy so very, very much.
Advantage: Northern Iowa
Turnovers were a part of the reason why the Hawkeyes had a 6-point lead at halftime. Iowa was actually winning all four factors at halftime, and having only 3 turnovers played a very big part in helping Iowa's early shooting struggles not totally cripple their offense. In the second half, guess what happened? The exact opposite. Surprise! Iowa turned the ball over 10 times or basically once every third time down the court. Couple that with a 12.5% eFG%, and how the Hawkeyes were still only down 6 with only a few minutes left is absolutely astounding.
Advantage: Northern Iowa
This is the one factor that Iowa won in both halves, and overall. Of course, that's mainly because it didn't seem as if Northern Iowa was particularly interested in crashing the offensive boards. Instead, they seemed more worried about getting back in transition and forcing Iowa to run their half court sets. So, essentially, this category didn't mean much of anything for this game since Iowa only had 5 second chance points all night. For Northern Iowa, when you put up an eFG% that's over 50% and you slow a team down that can't run a half court offense to save their lives, offensive rebounding isn't all that important.
Free Throw Rate
In the first half Iowa went to the line 4 times and Northern Iowa went their 2 times. In the second half Iowa visited the charity stripe 14 times on 24 field goal attempts, but Northern Iowa visited 13 times on only 20 field goal attempts. The free throw line could have helped make up for Iowa's poor shooting after halftime. However, it could have only done so if the Panthers weren't also visiting the line at such a high rate, as well.
Advantage: Northern Iowa
Overall: Iowa Won 1 Out of the 4 Factors
The only person who was responsible for a pretty decent amount of Iowa's shot attempts on the night and actually put up a TS% of over 50% was Gabe Olaseni. Aaron White, Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury, Peter Jok, and Jarrod Uthoff all combined for 82% of Iowa's scoring attempts on the night and three of those five finished with a TS% in the 40s, while Jok and Woodbury finished in the 20s. That's bad. That's real, real bad.
Of course, scoring doesn't tell the whole story of the game, so back this week is the game score chart. I switched it up a bit this week, adjusting the game scores for each player so that they represent, as a whole, the amount of points the team scored (only 44 for this game). This basically just gives a player a game score that is more representative of the actual impact the player had for their team. Additionally, this week, I broke it down on a per minute basis, that way we can actually see who influenced the game the most, no matter how many minutes they played.
The player who had the most impact for Iowa was (according to game score per minute) Gabel Olaseni. Before halftime, Gabe was putting in work in the post. He scored 6 points down low in the first half; two after cleaning up on the offensive glass, and one where he made a nice move to seal off his man and get an easy entry pass and layup. Unfortunately, that's about all we saw from him, as he only scored 2 points in the second half.
Even with him being silenced in the second half, he still had the biggest impact on the game for the Hawkeyes during his 22 minutes on the court. His final stat line included 8 points on 3-6 shooting from the floor and 2-2 shooting from the line, and 6 rebounds (4 offensive). Sadly, his final line did not include a block, which means this was the first game all season he was not responsible for swatting an opponent's shot into the first row. Even with that, though, Kenpom still has Gabe as the 13th best shot-blocker in the nation.
After Olaseni, the production falls off for Iowa a bit. And no offense to Olaseni, but the fact that his performance had the biggest impact for Iowa in this game is an indictment on how forgettable this offensive show was. Jarrod Uthoff, Aaron White, and Mike Gesell were the only other guys who had as much of an impact on the game for Iowa, but their games were not as great as we would have all liked. White scored only 9 points on a lousy 2-8 from the floor. He tried to help make up for that by hitting 4-6 from the free throw line, but his unusual inability to finish near the rim hurt Iowa greatly.
He also threw in 7 rebounds (1 offensive), 2 assists and 1 steal, but his off night from the field (when no one else was stepping up) was devastating for this team.
Speaking of devastating, getting only 6 points from Jarrod Uthoff also killed this offense. Uthoff is the only consistent three point threat for this team right now, and he went 0-3 on the night.
For whatever reason his shot chart is missing 2 of his missed threes, but go ahead and just visualize them yourself. Jarrod continued to do other things well, like grabbing 9 rebounds (3 offensive) and blocking 1 shot, but this team needs him to score. Aaron White having an off night is bad enough, but when Uthoff also struggles to score, this team has to play lockdown defense.
Mike Gesell scored 10 points for the Hawkeyes, but it took his usual high volume of scoring attempts to do so.
The good for Mike, was the fact that he hit 2 of his 4 three point attempts, and he was also able to draw some fouls when he drove to the basket. The bad was that he went 0-4 inside the three point line, and that included him continuing to have some issues getting his shot altered when he got to the rim. He only had 3 assists on the night, but with the way the team was shooting on this night, it's amazing he got that many. Overall, I thought he played a decent game. He wasn't the reason Iowa lost this game.
Lastly, I'll wrap this up with a few bullet points.
- Northern Iowa is a damn good basketball team and they simply looked like a team that understood the offensive fundamentals of the game better than Iowa did. Their point guards were able to drive to the basket and finish in traffic, their shooters were able to knock down open threes, and their big men showed off great footwork in the post. All three of those were aspects that Iowa was lacking in Saturday evening. I was really impressed with how well the Panthers played, including their young guys. Outside of the senior Seth Tuttle, this team has some good players who are only juniors in Wes Washpun, Paul Jesperson, and Matt Bohannon. And they've also got some talented younger players in Jeremy Morgan, Bennett Koch (the next Seth Tuttle), and Wyatt Lohaus. This Northern Iowa team will probably give teams fits in March, and they look like they have a nice roster for a few years to come.
- Wes Washpun would have been a nice addition to this roster.
- I was seriously jealous of the post play that Northern Iowa got from their bigs compared to what Iowa got from theirs. I love Woodbury, but he's had two bad games in a row. And this one against Northern Iowa was just dreadful. He was able to draw a couple of fouls in the post, but his 1-9 shooting from the field was awful. He struggled to with his footwork when his back was to the basket, and he couldn't score over smaller players. The Hawkeyes had the right idea to go to the post more, but it won't work when Woodbury shoots like this:
- Besides Woodbury, this game was also more evidence that Gabe still doesn't have much of a post up game. He had a nice game, but you could still see his struggles when he catches the ball with his back to the rim. He would make a little hesitation move and then take an awkward-looking turn around jumper that inspired no confidence in me whatsoever. Outside of the one nice basket where he sealed off his man (and didn't have to make a post move because he got his defender on his back) Olaseni didn't show much of a post up game against Northern Iowa. I'm not bagging on him, I'm just saying that he's clearly at his best cleaning up misses and finishing in transition.
- Both of the previous bullet points make it difficult for Iowa to implement the whole strategy of running their offense through the post. Or, in other words, we can scream all we like about Iowa's shot selection, but until Woodbury is back to early-season form and Iowa's getting out on the break enough for Olaseni (or how about more pick and roll for him?), this offense is going to struggle from just about anywhere on the court.
- Peter Jok showed more signs of attacking the basket against Northern Iowa, which was a positive development. However, he also continued to love those mid-range jumpers.
- Iowa was held dunkless for the second game in a row. Aaron White was also held dunkless for the second game in a row.
|Aaron White Dunk-O-Meter||Freshman||Sophomore||Junior||Senior||Career|
|Field Goals Made||136||140||143||53||472|
- Iowa is averaging 0.98 points per possession with a 41.6% eFG% in December. Yuck.
Tonight, Iowa gets a visit from the North Florida Ospreys. They aren't particularly good, but they aren't Alcorn State, either. They have the 63rd best eFG% in the nation right now, so Iowa could get into some trouble if their offense continues to stall for 75% of the game. The Ospreys already knocked off Purdue this season, so Iowa better not take them lightly.