Like most red blooded American's with a stressful day job, I participated in Happy Hour Friday with some co-workers. I knew that Iowa had an exhibition game with D-II powerhouse Augustana, but like most out of town Iowa fans, I figured I'd just follow through Twitter on their way to a nice "shake the cob webs off" victory.
What a grave mistake.
As I'm sure you've seen by now, Iowa didn't shake the cob webs off. They didn't obtain a victory. Instead they lost on a last second heave by Augustana's Daniel Jansen (the Preseason Division II Player of the Year):
Wow! Augustana stuns Iowa in an exhibition hoops game on a buzzer-beater! https://t.co/E29MCBmfAA— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 7, 2015
This is still stunning, BUT nothing to be over dramatic about. Yes it's a loss, but one to a 31-win team that has their aspirations on a national title. And one at that, that Fran McCaffery seemingly scheduled on purpose,
"There's two ways to look at this game," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "You can schedule it or not, OK? We could have found a team that won eight games last year very easily. We scheduled a team that won 31 games. Most teams won't play them, OK? But I felt like we needed a game like this right here. When you look at our schedule, we play next Friday and Sunday. We got Marquette, Iowa State. You look at who we have, Florida State. The tournament in Orlando. We better play somebody good who is going to expose some of our weaknesses as opposed to you win by 25 and you don't really know where your weaknesses are yet."
Boy did he get his wish. There are things here... things that would and could make even the hardest and truest of fans shudder. But like all great coaches, I'm going to watch the tape once, go over what I see and take out a cavalcade of shovels and bury this deep under the Carver Hawkeye floorboards.
Day After Tomorrow Thought #1: I'm still worried about Woody. Augustana went right at him to start the game and tried torching him by using Jansen as the screener in some juicy pick and rolls that warranted open looks. There were a few occasions when Woody seemed to have lost his man who was floating amidst the corners... something that will continue to happen when he's forced to match up with some of the Big Ten's stretch behemoths. He picked up an early foul -- and could've easily gotten another one -- and for the most part got caught in that weird hands-up-while-shuffling-side-to-side position when he was matched up against faster ball handlers on switches. He does this all the time when players are driving on him. He throws his hip at him with his arms half raised thinking it will thwart the attack... it never does.
With that said, he's very good as a screen and roller and showed some decent touch near the hoop when he was fed the ball. There was a set play about half way through the first half where Woody and Andrew Flemming were on the left block and Uthoff and Jok were on the right. Uthoff and Woody shoot up to the elbows. Clemmons, the ball handler, ushers the pass to Woodbury while Flemming fills into the corner leaving a perfect pin opportunity for Jok down low.
Woody is a willing passer and this is a fantastic way to get his opposing big away from the hoop to allow the space for one of Iowa's more opportunistic scorers in Jok a chance for an easy basket. It's plays like these that I find Woody to be extremely impressive and if he can knock down some elbow shots during the season he will continue to lend breathing room for mismatches on McCaffery's "Swiss Army Knife" combo-wings.
Day After Tomorrow Thought #2: Peter Jok looked fantastic. He was so slippery in transition and confident taking the ball to the rack. He honestly looks like an entirely different player. He looks more physically imposing and ready to score. There was a set that my high school coach used to call "Michigan" that Iowa used with Jok on Friday night where he receives a quick pass on the left wing, throws it back to the point and runs through a bevy of staggered screens on his way to the right side for a free look at a three. It's a perfect spread to get him the quick looks he needs to score. He was really impressive when he hooked off screens for quick release jumpers too. I really enjoyed what I saw from him.
Day After Tomorrow Thought #3: Uthoff and Gesell Pick and Pop's are going to be fun to watch, especially if the senior point guard can continue to establish himself as threat to get inside of the paint and wreak havoc around the hoop. And it seems like McCaffery loves the combo when he's looking for easy buckets. Take the Vine below:
McCaffery called that play twice in a row early on in the first half. The first time Uthoff held onto the ball, much to the demise of the coaching staff. The next time down the floor, he pulled the trigger. While it didn't go in, the amount of gravity Gesell pulls in provides Uthoff with a clean look. I'm sure coaches will start cheating over as time goes on to make sure they aren't giving up open three point looks to Iowa's best player, which is fine, as Gesell is a crafty enough ball handler to turn the corner and punish a slower big.
They ran this play a couple of times with Dom Uhl in Uthoff's spot as well. While the shots weren't falling at all Friday night for anyone outside of Peter Jok, this remains a promising look for Iowa's half court offense.
Day After Tomorrow Thought #4: Good gracious the rebounding effort. The Vikings had somewhere between 100 and a bajillion second chance opportunities because nobody on this Iowa team though it wise to box out. Boxing out is all heart. It has nothing to do with skill, which is most concerning.
Day After Tomorrow Thought #5: Mike Gesell looks like he is an all around better player, something the Hawkeyes desperately need. It's not a secret he started off pretty slow last year, but man this kid kept turning my head in the second half, helping relieve the pressure off of Jok. He was an absolute playmaker. If he wasn't scoring he was getting players the ball when they were open (9 assists on the game). I'm smelling a break out.
Day After Tomorrow Thought #6: Where oh where are you Dom Uhl? No seriously, where are you? Two minutes in an exhibition game where the starters logged way more minutes than anyone would believe considering the final score. Not a good sign. Also, the Butch Cassidy hip shot looked really, really suspect.
Day After Tomorrow Thought #7: Dale Jones has some Melsahn Basabe in him which makes me oh so happy.
All in all, this game doesn't count, McCaffery has some tape to watch of the Hawkeyes problems and nobody in the Iowa world will remember this happening if they get through the non-conference schedule unscathed. There were some good things here that the players and staff can build on. With more intensity on the boards and a little more hustle on defense, I'm not even writing about this game. We'll see what happens on Friday against Gardner-Webb.