The Iowa men’s basketball season unofficially started with Media Day on Wednesday, and almost immediately impressions were being formed about the players, the coach, the style of play, the upcoming season and seemingly everything but the color of coach Fran McCaffery’s ties. Speculation has spread like wildfire over how the team and players will perform, what their roles will be and what will be expected in terms of wins and losses. Here are five things you might not know about the Hawks and the upcoming season:
Shooter’s I – Last season the Hawks had a number of players with field-goal percentages in the high 30s and low 40s. Take heart, Hawkeye fans, it has to get better because there’s virtually no way it can get worse. Chief culprits last season were guards Devyn Marble and Mike Gesell, who took the most shots of anyone on the team and converted about 40 percent of them. Marble figures to shoot a higher percentage by moving to point guard where he will be more of a scorer and less of a shooter. Gesell will backup Marble at point and get fewer opportunities by default. McCaffery said if he can get his team to improve just a few percentage points overall then that will have a big impact on the offense.
Big man complex – Iowa’s big men in the middle, Adam Woodbury and Gabe Olaseni, are bigger and stronger. Woodbury has added 20 pounds of muscle and said he will be more aggressive in attacking the basket this season. Look for him to get more offensive putbacks and scoring in the paint. Olaseni has an NBA body and also is looking to score more in addition to rebounding and blocking shots.
Just Joshin’ – Josh Oglesby can shoot. No, really, he can. Almost everyone on the team thinks Oglesby can be a great shooter – everyone except Oglesby, who shot 27.4 percent last season. I had a higher scoring percentage in high school than Oglesby did, and I played soccer. To help him, the team has brought in a specialist to help Oglesby relax and prepare better mentally. If Oglesby can push his percentage to at least 40, the Hawkeyes can score more and have another weapon in their arsenal.
Two Utes – Speculation has run wild about freshman Peter Jok and transfer Jarrod Uthoff. McCaffery said Jok will certainly get his chance to play, but like most pure shooters Jok has been slow to pick up the defensive intensity his coach is looking for. If Jok’s not in the game it’s likely because of his defense, not his shooting. Uthoff is somewhat of a tweener, possessing skills of both guard and forward. At question, however, is his physical development and maturity. Not having played college competition for two years, how quickly he adjusts will determine how effective he will be this season.
Rotation, rotation, rotation – You might want to look away for this one. McCaffery indicated that he has multiple options at nearly every position and that his team could go nine or 10 deep this season. That could be good and bad. Fans were up in arms last season as the Hawkeyes lost close games because it appeared at times their best players weren’t on the floor during crunch time. Winning just a couple of those games would have put them into the NCAA tournament. Most good teams have 2-3 core players who step up in the clutch. Playing so many players doesn’t lead to the development of two or three go-to guys that are needed to help close out tough Big 10 games on the road.