Franalysis: Rutgers Embarrasses Iowa in Piscataway

By Matthew Lundeen on January 18, 2018 at 11:00 am
Rutgers' defense stymied Iowa's offense, while Iowa's defense made Rutgers' offense look like the Harlem Globetrotters.
© Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers' defense stymied Iowa's offense, while Iowa's defense made Rutgers' offense look like the Harlem Globetrotters.


Four Factors in Review

  Iowa 1st Half Rutgers 1st Half Iowa 2nd Half Rutgers 2nd Half Iowa Game Rutgers Game
Points Per Possession 0.71 1.12 1.23 1.29 0.96 1.20
Possessions 34 33 67


Iowa 2PT Near Rim 2PT Jumper 3PT FG FT
Attempts 29.5% 39.3% 31.1% N/A
FG% 61.1% 20.8% 42.1% 80.0%
Rutgers 2PT Near Rim 2PT Jumper 3PT FG FT
Attempts 46.3% 24.1% 29.6% N/A
FG% 68.0% 38.5% 43.8% 75.0%

There are a number of damning stats in this game, but perhaps the most damning for the offense was the number of field goal attempts that were classified as two-point jumpers. Nearly 40% of their field goal attempts were considered mid-range jumpers, and Iowa only shot 21% on those field goal attempts. That wasn't because the Hawkeyes were particularly in love with their mid-range game last night, but it was because Rutgers' defense made things even more difficult for an Iowa offense that currently doesn't need much help falling apart. 

If you are looking for another stat that indicates just how much Rutgers' defense bothered Iowa's offense, look no further than average offensive time of possession. Iowa ended the game with an average offensive possession that spanned 17 seconds. That's already a slower than their 15.5 second norm this season and the 16.1 seconds they are used to in conference play. However, that final number of 17 seconds doesn't tell the whole story. Because around the four minute mark in the second half--before Iowa went and scored 18 points in the final four minutes of play--that time of possession number for Iowa was a whopping 19 seconds. So if it felt like a return to Lickliter-ball, that's part of the reason why. The Scarlet Knights took away Iowa's primary and secondary breaks in transition, aggressively denied the post (forcing Tyler Cook to catch the ball 20 feet away from the rim), and made this Hawkeye team settle for long jump shots. Needless to say, this was a successful strategy.

On the other end, Iowa's defense was effective, but, unfortunately, it was effective at generating open looks for the opposing team. No matter which defense Iowa threw at Rutgers, it got shredded on Wednesday night. When Iowa went man, we saw the usual perimeter defensive issues arise, as Isaiah Moss regularly let Corey Sanders beat him off the dribble and the same happened when Jordan Bohannon was asked to guard Geo Baker. Penetration inside the defense led to a number of layups, causing Iowa to switch to a zone early on, but to no avail. The minute Iowa's zone was called upon in the first half, Rutgers proceeded to catch fire from three-point range. That's right, one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the conference and in the nation shot 6-10 from long range in the first half against Iowa. That cooled off in the second half, but they were still able to kill the Hawkeye defense via guard penetration and by dominating in the transition game. Yet again, Iowa's half-court defense was bad enough on its own, but the inability to stop their opponent from running on them made this one a laugher.

Advantage: Rutgers


Team Turnovers Turnover% Steals % of Turnovers Forced by Steals Points Off Turnovers Pts Off Turnovers Per Turnover Forced
Iowa 17 25.5% 3 27.3% 6 0.55
Rutgers 11 16.5% 9 52.9% 24 1.41

Speaking of transition, turnovers played a big part in Rutgers' domination of the transition game. The Hawkeyes coughed up the ball on a quarter of their possessions, gave up 24 points off of 17 turnovers, and got outscored 16-2 on fast break points. 10 of those fast break points were the end result of five of the nine steals that Rutgers had on the evening. So, yet again, Iowa had a turnover problem, and, yet again, it was fueled by an aggressive opposing defense literally taking the ball out of their hands and immediately turning Iowa's empty possessions into points for themselves. 

Turnovers also played a key part in the game-defining run that gave Rutgers the big lead that they would never relinquish. After briefly leading 13-11 in the first half, the Hawkeyes went on one of their patented turnover binges, giving the ball to Rutgers five times in eight possessions over a four minute stretch. They found themselves in a 23-13 hole as a result. And, unlike in the Illinois game, it ended up being a hole in which they were unable to pull themselves out of.

Advantage: Rutgers

Offensive Rebounding

Team Off. Rebounds Available Off. Rebounds Off. Rebound% 2nd Chance Points 2nd Chance Pts/Off. Rebound
Iowa 15 37 40.5% 13 0.87
Rutgers 9 29 31.0% 14 1.56

The Hawkeyes actually did a good job on the glass against a good rebounding team in Rutgers. They came away with 41% of their misses and held Rutgers under their season average of 33%.

Unfortunately, when you look at the quality of the rebound possessions, things weren't nearly as good for the Hawkeyes as they were in the quantity aspect. The Scarlet Knights managed to outscore the Hawkeyes 14-13 in second chance points, despite the fact that Iowa had six more offensive rebounds on the night. Winning the second chance points battle could have helped Iowa close the gap a little in this one, but instead this category became a non-factor since Rutgers was extremely efficient with the second chance opportunities they did have. 

Advantage: Push

Free Throws

Team FT Made FT Attempted FT% FT Rate (FTA/FGA)
Iowa 8 10 80.0% 16.4%
Rutgers 15 20 75.0% 37.0%

Did you know that a number of Rutgers' big men have fouling issues? Well, you wouldn't really know it from watching this game because Iowa rarely got the ball inside to test them, which is why the Hawkeyes only got to the free throw line ten times. They did make their free ones when they got there, but the volume simply wasn't there to make a meaningful impact on the outcome of this game. 

Advantage: Rutgers

Overall: Iowa Won 0 of 4 Factors


The player chart is a bit misleading here. Jordan Bohannon being Iowa's best player isn't misleading, of course. His 23 points--mostly from his 5-9 shooting from deep-- were the only reason Iowa didn't lose by more than 16. But the high ratings for Luka Garza and Nicholas Baer are inflated. Not to take anything away from them, but they scored a chunk of their points in that garbage time barrage in the final four minutes of play. Before that, Garza had a number of jump shots that looked awkward and uncomfortable leaving his hand (and, surprise, they didn't fall) and never found a post-up game against Rutgers. And Nicholas Baer was basically invisible before hitting two threes at the tail end of the game.  

Cordell Pemsl rated out high, but his stat line of six points (2-3 shooting) and six rebounds (two offensive) in 17 minutes was hardly enough to keep this struggling offense afloat, especially when Tyler Cook needed 15 field goal attempts to score 10 points. And, speaking of Iowa's star player, his off night was a product of Rutgers' game plan of denying him the ball in the post. Too often Cook caught the ball 20 feet away from the rim rather than in the post, and instead of seeing him break his defender down off the dribble (like we have seen him do quite a few times this year), he settled for a two-point jumper on seven of his 15 field goal attempts. Whether that was a product of Rutgers' defense making him too uncomfortable to drive or Cook being overconfident in his jumper, it obviously worked because he made just one of those shots. And when Cook did get the ball in the paint, he simply couldn't get the job done, shooting just 4-8 from closer range. And if you need any more damning stats, Cook finished the game with zero dunks for the second time in three games.

Tyler Cook Dunk-o-meter Games Dunks Dunks Per Game Made field goals Dunk Rate Estimated Season Total
Sophomore Year Tyler Cook 20 37 1.9 108 34.3% 57 (31 Games)
Sophomore Year Aaron White 38 56 1.5 140 40.0% 56
Tyler Cook Career 47 85 1.8 236 36.0% N/A
Aaron White Career 140 201 1.4 590 34.1% N/A

In the end, this game saw more of the same from Iowa: a clunky and inconsistent offense that has a massive turnover problem paired with a defense that can't stop dribble penetration in man-to-man, gives up too many wide open threes in zone, and which also can't limit transition baskets. All of this is, again, a function of roster construction and player development.

This roster simply has too many forwards and not enough guards. They have nobody who can consistently penetrate the opponent's defense when they are on offense, and they can't guard the perimeter when they are on defense. And, essentially, the only players that this team can really rely on right now are all sophomores and freshmen. I can't stress enough how important the developmental failure of Dom Uhl, Brady Ellingson, Ahmad Wagner, and Isaiah Moss has been this season. On top of that, the inconsistent play of Nicholas Baer has also hampered Iowa. It has left this squad to rely almost solely on Tyler Cook and Jordan Bohannon, and two guys just aren't enough to win in the Big Ten. And until that changes, it's going to be hard for Iowa to make it out of the basement of the conference.

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