Last year, Iowa hired Fran McCaffery to turn their struggling program around. Their previous coach Todd Lickliter was fired after his slow-paced brand of basketball failed to translate into wins. The record wasn't great last season, but Iowa fans are happy with the direction of the program. McCaffery installed a fast, attacking style, played in a lot of close games, had a big upset win over Purdue, and landed a top big man in Adam Woodbury for 2012.
Iowa will have to replace Jarryd Cole, a power forward who averaged about 8 ppg and 6 rpg, and Cully Payne, a point guard who was injured most of last season and decided to transfer. Cole was the emotional leader of the team and the win against Purdue was a good way to cap off his college career. Payne was a starter for most of his freshman season, but he was ably replaced last year and decided to try his luck somewhere else.The Hawkeyes have a lot of talent returning. Chief among them is big man Melsahn Basabe, who was selected as a member of the All-Big Ten Freshman team last season. The 6-foot-7 power forward averaged almost 7 rpg and 11 ppg. Basabe will have to play inside this year without the help of Cole, but, based on his performance last year as a freshman, that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Zach McCabe and Andrew Brommer will need to step up this season to make up for the loss of Cole. Brommer is an inside player who ranked third in rebounding and second in FG% last year. McCabe missed 60 three-pointers while only shooting 29% from outside. He will either need to start knocking them down or quit shooting them altogether.
Bryce Cartwright's solid play at the point last year was surely a major factor in Payne's decision to transfer. Cartwright led the Big Ten in assists with 5.9 per game after transferring from junior college. Fellow starter Matt Gatens led the team in scoring from the off-guard position, while averaging over a steal per game.
Roy Devyn Marble, a 6-foot-5, second-generation Hawkeye, showed some promise last year, and could make a difference this year. Eric May showed that he could score (7.8 ppg) and defend (1.3 steals per game).
As far as newcomers, forward Aaron White might get the most early playing time due to his size. The 6-foot-8 player won the MVP award at the Kentucky/Ohio All Star Game, and is considered a 3-star recruit by Yahoo!. Iowan Guard Josh Oglesby is the highest rated incoming player, but he will have to impress the coaches to see much time ahead of the other guards. Gabe Olaseni is a big man from Great Britain who will probably be used sparingly this year.
Anthony Hubbard, a promising junior college transfer who has served four years in prison, left the Hawkeyes after only being there a month. It could be that he didn't get along with his teammates, or it may be a sign that Iowa's players are developing nicely and Hubbard may have had trouble finding the court.
After being near the bottom of the conference for so long, the new coaching staff has started to turn things around. While their record didn't show it last year, this year will be a different story. An NIT bid would be a good next step for the Hawkeyes on their road back to respectability.