Where Do The Men Stand?


About a third of the Iowa Men’s Basketball season has come and gone.  The Hawkeyes are 10-2 and ranked 25th in the latest Associated Press Poll.  That brought a question to my head.  Where do they stand if the season ended today?   Obviously it doesn’t, so we’ll look at things they should improve upon and things that should stay exactly where they are at.

Things that need work:

Closing out ball games.

If the Hawkeyes want to make a deep run in March they are going to have to learn how to close out big games against quality opponents.  There have been two times that Iowa did not do a good job of closing out opponents.  The first one that comes to mind was earlier in the year against Villanova.  They let the Wildcats climb out of a 13 point hole only to go on and win the game in OT.  The next one, the one that stings, the game just last Friday against the Iowa State Cyclones.  A few missed free throws here and there that turned into Cyclone buckets were huge.  In their last 20 chances to win or tie the game when it’s on the line, the Hawkeyes have failed every single time.

Eliminate the slow start.

The Hawkeyes have come out of the locker flat many times this year against quality opponents.  The first couple minutes against Fairleigh Dickinson are a good example of that.  Now, I know FDU isn’t a quality opponent, but even against smaller schools the Hawkeyes have struggled at times.  Most notably is the second half start that allowed Villanova back in the ball game.  Iowa had that big lead and  then, poof, it was gone.  The second half against Notre Dame is another case.  Iowa let ND eliminate a pretty decent lead that swung the game back in favor of the Irish for a while.  Then the second half against Iowa State, the Cyclones erased the 7 point lead Iowa held going into the half not too long after the second half started.  This needs to be fixed if Iowa wants to be elite.

Things that need to stay the same:

Relentlessness on the glass.

Iowa ranks 4th in the nation in rebounding and that’s been a big reason for their 10-2 start.  Their ability to out-rebound teams is almost unmatched across the country.  The addition of Jarrod Uthoff has helped the Hawkeyes immensely, he leads Iowa at about 7 rebounds per game.  Having players like Gabe Olaseni and Zach McCabe coming off the bench help this cause too.  Olaseni’s long arms provide the reach he needs to grab rebounds.  McCabe’s toughness is unmatched on the Hawkeyes and it allows him to force his way in there to clear the glass.

Putting the rock in the basket.

Iowa was pretty bad last year at doing this, especially from behind the arc.  That was a big reason why Iowa wasn’t as good as they could’ve possibly been.  Last year the Hawkeyes shot 41% from the field and just 31% from behind the arc.  This year it’s a whole different story.  The Hawkeyes are up to 47% from the field and 35% from behind the arc.  That’s a big reason why Iowa is 10-2.  It also shows how much more mature the team is this year compared to last.  Besides this past game against the Cyclones, Zach McCabe has been a big reason why Iowa is much better from behind the arc.  After an 0-4 performance against ISU, McCabe is shooting 44% from behind the arc.

If Iowa can fix the things that need some work and maybe even improve upon the things they’ve done well so far, there is no reason why this team can’t be close to the top of the Big Ten.  With the depth and the talent this team possesses, it makes them a scary match up for a lot of teams.