Iowa likes to run. They do it a lot.
On defensive rebounds or from made baskets, the outlet passes are crisp and the guards skip up the floor to create easy opportunities on the other end. They use it to set their offense, to get to the free throw line or to steal a few baskets that make a difference down the stretch of a game.
On a night where Iowa shot just 2-10 from 3 point range and turned the ball over 14 times, it was the transition game that ultimately failed them in Michigan. Why? The transition game didn’t make the trip.
The whole game, the Hawkeyes were unable to create those point-blank opportunities that have become a staple in Fran McCaffery’s tenure. Michigan took care of the basketball and gave it up just ten times, limiting the amount of running Iowa was able to do.
The Wolverines also took 27 3s in the game, which created long rebounds that surprisingly did not turn into offensive sparks for Iowa. Many of the Michigan misses pinballed between players, giving the Wolverines time to race back up court before Iowa could counter. The hustle by the Wolverines to get back was evidently a point of emphasis in the game plan, as denying Iowa’s transition game neutralizes the best skills of the Hawkeye slashers like Aaron White, Mike Gesell and Jarrod Uthoff who thrive on the break.
Iowa finished their second losing effort in conference play with just two hoops in transition in Ann Arbor. No wonder they were held twenty points below their season point average.
But, this is a good learning experience for what is becoming a battle-tested basketball team. Michigan forced Iowa to play 5 on 5 all night, a mainstay for contests come March. This will not be the last game where an opponent consciously takes away Iowa’s ability to get out and run.
Iowa countered the home team’s efforts by operating through Basabe and Woodbury on the block in the first half, which paid dividends and kept the Hawkeyes within striking distance the entire game. It may not be their absolute strength, but showing an effort to get the ball down low will do nothing but open up the team’s offense, in turn allowing their running game to roar to life when it inevitably sputters again.