The 2013-14 Iowa men’s basketball season is in the books, and after mirroring its conference record from a year ago, expectations remain high for next year’s campaign. Here we’ll take an extremely premature look at the schedule, projected starting lineup, position changes we’d like to see, and a few other goodies.
By Ben Ross
Iowa center Adam Woodbury lays the ball up against Tennese at University of Dayton Arena on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 in Dayton, OH.. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)
Iowa’s full slate of games hasn’t been released yet, but you know the Hawkeyes schedule is going to include Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska, which is good all of a sudden. Rutgers and Maryland join the conference next year, for some reason, but neither school is anywhere near its past years of glory on the hardwood.
We do know that Iowa will compete as a host team in the 2K sports classic, alongside Texas, Syracuse, and the University of California. The other 8 teams haven’t been announced yet, but Arizona and Duke played in this preseason throwdown, so you know its big. The championship rounds are held at Madison Square Garden.
When its all said and done, Iowa will most likely end with at least a top-40 schedule in terms of difficulty, which, as Iowa fans know by now, will really help the squads RPI.
Iowa went 9-9 in the Big Ten this year (9-10 if you count the Big Ten Tournament) which is the same it went last year. The Hawkeyes declined rather than improved as the season went on, and you just can’t do that for any sport. The conference isn’t getting any worse talent-wise (it never does) but next year will be a good chance for Iowa to assert some dominance as Michigan and Michigan State graduate some of their best players.
Unlike last season where Iowa had just one meaningful departure in Eric May’s graduation, the Hawkeyes have three heavy contributors leaving this year in Zach McCabe, Melsahn Basabe, and leading scorer and all-Big Ten selection Devyn Marble. Darius Stokes leaves too.
Marble and Basabe were regular starters, while McCabe provided good energy off the bench at times. McCabe holds the record for most consecutive games played in Iowa history, so Fran McCaffery’s squad will lose that kind of consistency. It’s going to be weird seeing a lineup without Marble in it, and Iowa is going to have to find someone to take over the scoring role that he held all of last season, essentially putting the team on his back a times.
Projected Starting Lineup
G — Mike Gesell
G — Josh Oglesby
F — Aaron White
F — Jarrod Uthoff
C — Adam Woodbury
To Iowa’s benefit, it still has three starters returning which could be worse. Jarrod Uthoff will fill in for Basabe mostly because Iowa has very little options at forward after White and Uthoff. (Maybe we see a lot of backup center Gabe Olaseni on the floor at the same time as Woodbury)?
Oglesby is the natural guy to fill in for Marble, even though the two have pretty different playing styles. Peter Jok could give Oglesby a run for his money at the starting guard spot, as Jok is more of a pure scorer, and showed a whole lot of promise in Iowa’s final game of the season against Tennessee.
Iowa also has the No. 1 Junior College point guard coming in to the program in Trey Richardson. If he’s as good as advertised, Iowa will need to find a way to plug him into the rotation. Which sort of leaves Anthony Clemmons as the odd man out…
This lineup isn’t anything to groan about, though. Uthoff, Woodbury, and Jok, showed some great things down the stretch of the season, and if Woody can morph into the all-world center he was projected to be in high school, then that’s all the better for Iowa. This lineup calls for better ball distribution and better fundamentals with a superstar like Marble out of the mix, and that’s why Iowa brought McCaffery into the program, to play strong, fundamentally sound basketball and stalwart defense.
It’s likely Clemmons files to transfer from Iowa. His minutes diminished greatly this year, following a season where he started a handful of games. He just lacks a lot of intangibles, and Peter Jok is showing everyday that he deserves to play over Clemmons. Clemmons could be a solid guard option at a smaller school, where it’s believed he may move on for greener pastures.
There’s also been talk of reserve forward Kyle Meyer leaving the program, but I’m not so sure how true that is. McCaffery used a scholarship on Meyer, which means he saw something in him to prove he can play. Also, if Meyer left, that really wouldn’t leave any other scholarship forwards on the roster other than White and Uthoff, which isn’t good.
Iowa does have a forward coming through next years class in Dominique Uhl, but little can be said of incoming high school players, and its unlikely he sees a whole lot of playing time unless McCaffery saw something in the three-star prospect no one else could.