INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans fights for rebound position against Melsahn Basabe #1 of the Iowa Hawkeyes during the first round of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 10, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Michigan State won 66-61. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
With Fran McCaffery's hire last year, Iowa Hawkeye fans seem to be excited about what the future may hold. I interviewed Black Heart Gold Pants's Adam Jacobi to discuss the program's past season and take a look to see how the fan base feels about the situation at Iowa right now.
BT Powerhouse: This was Coach Fran McCaffery's first season. Does the fan base have a good feeling about what he has done and what he can do to the Iowa program to restore it to former glory?
BHGP: The fanbase is currently riding Franwaves and vibing with the new program. There's obviously not a lot of talent there, but Fran seems to be at least more interested in recruiting than Lickliter ever was: Lickliter openly disdained AAU recruiting, while McCaffery hired a former shoe camp director as an assistant coach. Say what you will about the ethics and legitimacy of shoe camps and AAU tournaments, but it's impossible to compete in big-conference basketball without playing that game.
BT Powerhouse: How long do you think it will take for Fran McCaffery to get the Iowa program back to a winning season and an NCAA Tournament berth.
BHGP: There's a world of difference between a winning season and an NCAA berth. Iowa could top .500 next year and still be 3 years away from making the tourney. Iowa has already improved considerably from last year, but they're at least two years away from a berth.
BT Powerhouse: What was your most surprising moment this season? What was your most disappointing?
BHGP: When Iowa beat Michigan State by 20 after doubling them up for most of the game, that was pretty surprising. I laughed throughout basically the whole game, because what the hell, seriously? As far as disappointments go, Iowa lost by 5 to OSU, by 3 to Wisconsin (in OT), and by 5 to MSU in the tournament after having a chance at a game-winning shot. It's disappointing because you see them come so far and so close to breaking through, and they don't have what it takes to get over the hump yet.
BT Powerhouse: How did the team perform compared to your expectations?
BHGP: They did what they were supposed to. 11-20 sounded about right before the season, and they at least kept most games closer than they did last year. 2011-2012 should be about making a move in the W-L column, but at least they showed this year that they're capable of hanging with pretty much anybody.
BT Powerhouse: You have two incoming recruits this year, Josh Oglesby and Aaron White.. do you think these players will have an immediate impact on the team or do you think they will assume the roles of the freshman benchwarmers?
BHGP: That's impossible to tell at this point. Iowa needs size, but White and Oglesby both need to put some weight on, and there's no telling if they're skilled enough to give Iowa 5-10 minutes a night in Big Ten play.
BT Powerhouse: Who was the most surprising player this season?
BHGP: Melsahn Basabe was a breath of fresh air for this program.
BT Powerhouse: Melsahn Basabe was a breath of fresh air for this program this year. How do you think he will fair next season after a great freshman season?
BHGP: I JUST SAID THAT JEEZ. He needs to work on his footwork on the inside and make himself a viable post option, and he's clearly trying to develop a mid-range jumper, but he also benefited from teams not having an entire off-season to scout him. He's not under the radar anymore, and if he doesn't improve over the off-season he'll have a difficult year coming his way.
BT Powerhouse: With Jarryd Cole graduating, who do you think will step up and replace him?
BHGP: Andrew Brommer, amazingly. Brommer went from "most inept player in Big Ten by far" to "solid contributor" in just one coaching change, and he's got the size and athleticism to grab 8-10 rebounds a night and chip in 5-10 points. Maybe he's better served off the bench so he can be an "energy" guy, but there really aren't many other candidates here. He still commits silly fouls, like trying to defend layups than inevitably turn into and-one's--it's like chasing a flush, NOT WORTH THE RISK--but considering the step forward he made this year, he could turn into a 25-30 minute contributor with just a little more improvement. It's really weird to see that in print, describing Andrew Brommer. Seriously, he was so, so bad. Just the year prior, I saw him box out a defender... in the middle of a possession. If you must commit a moving screen 20 feet away from the ball, do it con gusto, I suppose.
BT Powerhouse: What are you looking forward to most about next year?
BHGP: More wins, fewer blowout losses, one last year of Bryce Cartwright.