With the specter of November haunting us more and more every day, that can only mean one thing: college basketball is coming, you guys. And with college basketball season about to start, it's time to do all the fun prediction/projection type things that come along every preseason. We already gave our predictions for wins and such, but now it's time to talk playing time.
Let's jump into the exercise, shall we?
First of all, let's start with what we know:
- The starting lineup has four locks: PG: Mike Gesell SG: Peter Jok SF: Jarrod Uthoff C: Adam Woodbury.
- Jarrod Uthoff is likely going average at least 30 minutes per game. Fran's best player every year averages 30-31 minutes per game, and Uthoff averaged about 30 last year.
- Other guys who are in for huge playing time are Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury. Like I said back in May, I think both of these guys could be pushing 30 minutes per game in February and March. It seems like McCaffery's lineups are very fluid and ever-changing, until we get down to the final stretch of the season when he really rides his best players. That means probably 25 minutes or so for them in the non-conference portion of the schedule, and about 30 minutes to finish the season, so I'm going to project them both for 27-28 minutes per game for the year, no matter what Fran is saying about Woodbury playing in the mid-30s per game. I will believe it when I see it.
- Then there is Peter Jok, who no longer has an upperclassman ahead of him this year. And with the departure of not only Josh Oglesby at the shooting guard position, but Aaron White and Gabe Olaseni, Iowa is going to need buckets from Jok this season. So I think his minutes will be similar to Gesell and Woodbury. He should average around 25 in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but in games against competition in which Iowa really needs his scoring ability, he's probably going to be close to 30 minutes per game.
- Anthony Clemmons is likely going to get somewhere around 20 minutes per game between the point guard and the shooting guard position. Sapp has the ability to give Gesell a breather at the point, but he is also an underrated three-point shooter and a great defender. He will be the first guy off the bench, and a potential starter in some cases this year.
Okay, so those are the major knowns on this team -- basically, all of the upperclassmen. Now, let's talk about the uncertainties.
- We don't know who the fifth starter will be, but they will likely be a wing or a big guy and it will probably change from the beginning to the end of the season. Dom Uhl could potentially start at the 3 (moving Uthoff down to the 4) or at the 4 or Dale Jones could step in and start at the 4. Additionally, Fran could slide Jok and Uthoff down a spot and start Clemmons at the 2 position. (He started him there at the beginning of last year.) Outside of when he needed to infuse this program with talent, I feel like I can't remember a time when Fran started a brand new guy from day one, so I feel like Dom Uhl is probably the early favorite here. But I also wouldn't be surprised if Clemmons gets the nod, either. Dale Jones could potentially be the starter, but I don't see that being the case at the beginning of the year.
- Iowa has six incoming recruits this year and one or two them will redshirt. I mean, they have to because there is just not enough playing time to go around. But who will play and who will have to redshirt? Well, Iowa has a logjam in the back court this season, so the best opportunity for early playing time goes to the incoming front court players. That means Dale Jones and Ahmad Wagner are playing for sure. I would imagine that also includes Brandon Hutton, even though he can also play the small forward position. So that leaves the trio of back court players vying for one, maybe two spots in the rotation. Andrew Fleming is probably too good to keep off the court this season. I think Fleming physically doesn't need a year to develop and he can give Iowa some shooting off the bench. And that leaves us with Christian Williams and Isaiah Moss. If this was a year in which Iowa didn't have two senior point guards, I would say that both Williams and Moss would redshirt. But, I almost feel like Fran will have Williams play in order to get him college-level point guard experience for next year when Gesell and Clemmons are gone. Technically, Fleming could be the third-string point guard if necessary, but I would imagine Fran wants Williams to have that experience for next year. So, by process of elimination, that means I think Isaiah Moss is likely our redshirt candidate this season.
- But, wait a minute, where does Brady Ellingson fit into all of this? Iowa seriously has a bevy of guard options this year. I think the non-conference portion of the schedule will be used to determine whether Ellingson or Fleming is the main non-Sapp backup to Peter Jok at shooting guard. Fran's decision will likely come down to who is shooting the ball better and who isn't a liability on the defensive end of the floor.
So, with all of those bullet points out of the way, here are my back-of-the-napkin projections (win shares included!) for this season:
|Player||14-15 MPG||Projected 15-16 MPG||Projected Win Shares/40||Projected Win Shares|
|Jarrod Uthoff- F||30.3||31||0.187||4.6|
|Adam Woodbury- C||20.5||28||0.142||3.2|
|Peter Jok- SG/SF||19.9||25||0.144||2.9|
|Brady Ellingson- SG||4.6||15||0.09||1.1|
|Dom Uhl- F||10||15||0.08||1|
|Ahmad Wagner- F||N/A||10||0.06||0.5|
|Brandon Hutton- F||N/A||8||0.06||0.4|
|Andrew Fleming- G||N/A||5||0.08||0.3|
|Christian Williams- G||N/A||5||0.06||0.2|
|Okey Ukah- F||2.4||2||0.082||0.1|
|Charlie Rose- G||2||<1||0.059||0|
|Isaiah Moss- G/F||N/A||Redshirt||N/A||N/A|
Honestly, that's pretty much the same chart I posted back in May. I went back and scrutinized my projections, but the only thing I saw worth changing was giving Ahmad Wagner a little bit more playing time per game than Brandon Hutton. I'm not saying these are perfect, by any means, but I think they get us close enough for a good estimate of this season.
Overall, if Iowa gets a little bit more production from Gesell, Jok, and Woodbury this season and Uthoff plays at last year's level, this team has 20-win talent. 20 wins may not seem like a whole lot, but you have to take into account these projections are based on them playing in the Big Ten. If this team was playing in the MAC or something the projections would be much higher. And, really, if the above mentioned three don't take a huge step forward, this team is probably like an 18-win team, which is what Kenpom currently has them at.
So, right now, this looks like it could be a baseline 18-win team with the potential for much, much more. I say much, much more because if Jarrod Uthoff has an Aaron White-type of senior year, you could potentially tack on somewhere around 2-3 more wins to their total. And all of this is isn't even with the expectation that Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell live up to their former 4 star recruiting profiles as seniors. If that were to happen, then the sky would be the limit for this team.
Of course, not all of this will happen in unison. I mean, I guess it could, but the odds probably aren't in our favor. Instead, most guys will probably take at least a little step forward from where they were last year, but there is usually a guy or two who really struggles, whether it be due to injury or just being in a funk. The season will have its ups and downs and its moments of in-between, but there really is quite a big of upside to this year's team. In order for them to reach it, though, everyone is going to have to play up to their potential. This should be a fun season, folks.