If the Iowa Hawkeyes continue to play defense like they did Thursday night against Seton Hall, it could be a long season in Iowa City. Iowa gave up 91 points, allowing Seton Hall to shoot 50% from the field and 47% from three. The Pirates carved up the Hawkeyes defense, who looked lacked communication and at times looked confused on what defensive sets they were in.
Iowa wasn't able to contain dribble penetration all night, with Seton Hall's three man tandem of Desi Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington and freshman Myles Powell leading the charge, combining for 71 points. That group executed their one-on-one matchups against Hawkeyes defenders all night.
Along with allowing easy dribble penetration, Iowa looked confused and sloppy on their pick and roll defense. The defensive grouping of Peter Jok and Tyler Cook was a disaster. Jok especially struggled, looking tired at times, letting his man get into the lane with ease. It seemed like whoever Jok was guarding got to the basket which led to kick outs for open shots or simple line drives to the bucket.
Even with another offseason under his belt, Jok is still too inconsistent on the defensive end. Throughout the game when head coach Fran McCaffery switched defensive sets, Jok often struggled getting into a defensive stance in the 2-3 zone, or in the soft 1-2-2 pressure.
As much of a liability Jok was on the defensive end, he made up for it on the offensive end, he posted 30 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Adding more firepower was freshman highlight machine Tyler Cook, who excelled in his first true test of the season squaring off against Seton Hall's Angel Delgado. Cook scored 24 points and held Delgado to just 9 points. Cook even added a nasty spin move for a dunk midway through the second half, showing why he was rated by many as a Top-50 player during his senior year of high school.
There were plenty of positives to take away from Cook's performance, but he left unfinished business, only grabbing two rebounds on the night and going 5-12 at the free throw line. Cook also struggled to protect the paint and provided little help defense when Iowa get beat off the bounce.
McCaffery has to be satisfied with Cook's intensity and confidence early on this season, but Cook brings growing pains on the defensive end. He will be a work in progress, just like fellow freshman teammates Jordan Bohannon and Cordell Pemsl. Not only are the freshmen having trouble on defense, but McCaffery is still tinkering on whether to press, play man-to-man or play more 2-3 zone as well.
Another question for McCaffery is who will step-up as Iowa's third scoring option? Against Seton Hall no other player besides Cook and Jok scored more than 8 points. I'd like to think Dom Uhl is capable of providing some needed production. Uhl is now a junior who played meaningful minutes on last year's tournament team. The 6-9 junior averaged 6 points per game last season and replaces last year's top scorer Jarrod Uthoff.
Uhl is no where near the shooter Uthoff was, but he has a similar type of game, with his long frame and ability to put it on the floor. A lot depends on Uhl's confidence because of the Hawkeyes youth and inconsistent play bound to happen throughout the year. They need someone to depend on and I think Uhl is that guy to give them a combination of solid defense, points and rebounds on a nightly basis. In order to do that Uhl will have to play more aggressive. He's too talented to play timid like he did against Seton Hall.
UT Rio Grande Valley vs Iowa
Iowa will look to bounce back at home against UT Rio Grande Valley (0-3). This game shouldn't be a problem for Iowa. Look for Iowa to push the pace and at least score 90 points. This is a game for McCaffery to experiment with different defensive sets and rotations to find out what works best. It's also a great game to get their confidence back because they will need to be ready to go when they face their toughest opponent of their non-conference slate against Virginia on November 25th.