In the weeks leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing its preview series breaking down each Big Ten team. These will come in a set of series previewing the overall team, the team’s backcourt, wings, and big men, and the team’s schedule. Each post will take a look at its top in-depth and give predictions on the upcoming season.
You know the 2016-17 Iowa preseason story by now. Fran McCaffery graduated four starting seniors who left behind a bevy of minutes without clear cut replacements. Iowa is extremely young, but McCaffery has stocked piled a plethora of athletic projects that should be able to produce some exciting basketball — at the least.
Those young players are going to have to step up and play like seasoned vets, Peter Jok (ever heard of him?) is going to have to consistently be great, returning stretch big man Dale Jones is going to have to be leaned on a ton once he’s back to 100%, the exciting recruiting class that includes the likes of Tyler “Batman” Cook and Jordan Bohannon will need to play big minutes and guys like Isaiah Moss, Dom Uhl and Nicholas Baer are going to have to fill in the necessary gaps.
Even though Iowa is transitioning into the future, it doesn’t mean all is lost. If Iowa hopes to stay above the Big Ten median and make a push for the NCAA Tournament, their interestingly multi-faced backcourt is going to have to be consistently good.
BTPowerhouse Preview - Iowa Backcourt:
Departures: Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons
Additions: Jordan Bohannon and probably, technically Isaiah Moss (redshirt Freshman)
Top Player: Peter Jok
Losing Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons is as rough as it gets for any college basketball team. But when you lose Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons and replace them with a green 6’5” sophomore, a true freshman and (probably, technically redshirt freshman) well, things could get turbulent.
It’s no wonder then that McCaffery is already hinting at Jok handling some of those “bring the ball up” duties:
“Well I think what you'll see is Pete sometimes bringing the ball down. You'll see him have the ball on top. You'll see him have the ball in different situations maybe than what he did last year, as opposed to being a traditional point guard and getting us into our offense. When we have him on the floor, we want to get him buckets and create opportunities for him to have space. He's going to have to diversify his game in some ways because he's going to see tight coverage in a lot of ways, whether it's double teaming, rotating personnel, or physicality. I mean, whatever you want to point to, he's going to see it all, so the critical thing for him is going to be keeping the ball moving and the thing for us is going to be getting him open.”
This isn’t much of a surprise. Jok is going to field a majority of the offensive burden this season and I’m glad that McCaffery and Co. are willing to do anything and everything to get the ball in his hands early in their offensive sets.
This also means that the eventual starting rotation could be rather exciting...
What Will the Starting Rotation Look Like?
I’ve thought a lot about what the starting rotation/crunch time lineups COULD look like this season. When you look back at last year, Iowa was extremely successful with Gesell, Clemmons and Jok running around the perimeter and McCaffery has shown that he’s perfectly fine running out small ball lineups.
That’s not changing this season — as the entire roster is basically one giant 6’7” hybrid.
One possible lineup that has personally made my heart flutter is some super, interchangeable backcourt that features Bohannon, Williams and Jok running around with some mixture of Dom Uhl, Nicholas Baer, Dale Jones, Adhmad Wagner and Tyler Cook down low.
And I’m not the only one that has thought this through:
“I do, for a lot of reasons. Christian is a really good defensive player, so we might need him to go shut down a 2, especially if Pete is in foul trouble. I'd like to play him with Pete kind of like we did last year with three guards. Christian is a really good offensive rebounder, so we could turn him loose because you don't send your point guard to the glass. You can, but that's rare, and it's difficult, and it takes a lot of adjustment. So I think Christian and Jordan together would be really good, especially with the way that Jordan shoots the three.”
The thing with Iowa this year is that there are a legit ten to twelve guys that can play (and will probably deserve to play) as of this writing. Obviously, McCaffery is going to have to find his core of eight or nine guys before the Big Ten season, but the sheer fact that I haven’t even mentioned anything about Isaiah Moss (outside of saying that he’s probably, technically a point guard) as well as Maishe Dailey proves how deep this roster could eventually be.
While young and seemingly in a transition or rebuild or changeover or whatever other word you want to use for it, this team (and unit) is going to get out and run in ways we haven’t seen under McCaffery. It’s going to be exciting no matter who steps up (and in) as the entire “backcourt” is built with players of similar molds. They’re athletic, long and ready to test the physical conditioning of their opponents.