Bad news, guys. A few hours ago Adam, Pat and Ross were caught spray painting a crude Go Iowa Awesome logo onto the field at Camp Randall Stadium*. They are currently sitting in a Madison jail cell. So I’m writing the men’s basketball recap for tonight, my first ever.
*This isn’t true.
The Iowa men’s basketball season officially began tonight with an easy win against the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars by a score of 87-60. A big question this season is how the team will replace Tyler Cook’s offensive production and what the plan is going to be on offense, now that our primary focal point over the last couple seasons is no longer here. Well, the plan was on full display tonight, right from the opening tip: get the ball to Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp and let them eat. Garza and Wieskamp scored the first 13 points for Iowa tonight. It wasn’t until the 12:30 mark in the first half when a Hawkeye other than Garza or Wieskamp managed to score (a pair of free throws by Ryan Kriener). Garza then scored our next six points, giving the Garza/Wieskamp combo 19 of our first 21 points. I have a feeling that we are going to be seeing a lot of that game plan this season.
Despite Garza and Wieskamp’s prowess in the early going, Iowa struggled to put the Cougars away. The Cougars did not back down and showed impressive energy and aggression and the game was an uncomfortably close 26-22 at the 4 minute mark of the first half. Would this be an opening night face plant for a team with a lot to prove this season? No. No, it wouldn’t.
Jordan Bohannon hit a three to push the lead to 29-22 and the Iowa offense suddenly got hot with 12 points during the last four minutes of the first half. The Hawkeye offense carried its newfound rhythm into the second half and SIU-E had no answers. From the four minute mark of the first half to the end of the game, Iowa outscored the Cougars 61-38. 61 points in 24 minutes is, well, good. Really, really good. In the second half, both teams seemed to find their footing a bit more on offense but SIU-E could not keep up with Iowa’s efficiency. Within three minutes of the start of the second half, the lead was up to 17 points. By the 14 minute mark, the lead was up to 20 and from there it was just a question of how big the final margin of victory would be. Pat yourself on the back if you had 27.
The hero of the day for Iowa was Garza, who finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots in a mere 26 minutes of action. The peacock has taken flight. SIUE’s undersized front line had no way of stopping him tonight and we did what smart teams do: exploit the mismatch. Also in double figures was Joe Wieskamp, who scored 16 points on 5/10 shooting (3 of 7 from deep) and 3/3 at the free-throw line. A nice efficient day of scoring for Joe, picking up right where he left off last season.
In spite of this being the Garza-Wieskamp show for much of the first half, Iowa showed off its depth in this game (10 Hawkeyes had 15 or more minutes of playing time) and got offense from several places. Jordan Bohannon’s three point shot seemed to wake up Iowa’s offense (he finished with 9 points and 4 assists), also with 9 points were Joe Toussaint (who went 2/3 from three point range) and Ryan Kriener, who shook off a rough start to finish with 9 points and 5 boards in 15 minutes of action. One question mark for the team heading into this season is what Connor McCaffery and Joe Toussaint’s three point shooting is going to be like. For one night, at least, they both looked confident and competent shooting the ball (Connor went 1/2 from three point range).
One other thing that’s encouraging about our offensive explosion is that we accomplished it without particularly hot three point shooting. Rather, we made 60% of our two point attempts, limited turnovers, rebounded 37% of our misses and, most of all, attempted 32 free throws. The most efficient place to score on the basketball court is the free-throw line. Last year’s team was great at getting to the line and, if we can keep that up this year, we should have the makings of a very good offense. This team should be good on offense this season, the statistical projections think that we will be very good offensively. The big question for Iowa will be on the defensive end of the floor, where significant improvement is needed to take the team to the next level. Tonight, the Hawkeye defense put up a good stat line by blocking 4 shots, forcing 18 turnovers and holding SIUE to 42% shooting. This is encouraging, although SIUE isn’t exactly Kentucky and we will just have to wait and see how our defense fares against stronger competition. We won’t have to wait long.
Alright, I'm off to break the other GIA writers out of jail. Go Hawks!
Here’s some highlights: