A no. 22 national ranking paired with an 11-2 start has set the Iowa basketball team up for a promising second half of the season. As the non-conference portion of its schedule concludes, let’s grade the individual performances of Iowa’s primary contributors so far.
Mike Gesell (sophomore)
After a slow start to the season at 2-guard, Gesell was moved back to point where he has thrived for the Hawkeyes. With so many capable scoring options around him, he has orchestrated the offense to perfection. While fans will probably focus on the two crucial free throws he missed against rival Iowa State, they would be more wise to appreciate his ridiculous 4:1 assist/turnover ratio (4th highest in the nation).
Anthony Clemmons (sophomore)
As the primary ball-handler off of the bench, Clemmons has provided another steadying presence for the Hawkeyes. The backup point guard has also shown that when not getting his teammates involved (3.1apg), he can also be an efficient offensive player. The 6-1 Clemmons is currently shooting 57.6 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from 3.
Devyn Marble (senior)
While he has certainly struggled from a percentage aspect shooting the basketball (free throws especially), Marble has continued to be one of, if not the most valuable player on the Iowa team. While leading the Hawkeyes in scoring the 6-6 senior has racked up plenty of rebounds, assists, and steals as well. Maybe most important of all, Marble has carried the team for stretches in multiple big games so far this year. His ability to hit big shots in big moments has been a vital part of his team’s success, and he has the ability to lift his game to another level when called upon.
Peter Jok (freshman)
The 6-6 Des Moines, Iowa native has come off of the bench and done exactly as head coach Fran McCaffery has instructed him. Shoot the ball. While he has certainly made his fair share of freshman mistakes and “what was he thinking?” types of plays, Jok and his 7.3ppg average have given Iowa another element that opposing teams must account for. If he can continue to raise his shooting percentage as the year progresses, his value to the Hawkeyes will only increase.
Josh Oglesby (junior)
The 6-5 junior played his one and only game of the non-conference schedule this past Sunday. While he did shoot an impressive 4-5 from behind the arc, it’s still too soon to determine his overall impact and success coming off of a foot injury.
Melsahn Basabe (senior)
Though he may not be posting tremendous offensive numbers, Basabe has been more than effective in his current role. Inconsistent early in his career, he is now a very reliable rebounder, shot-blocker, and energetic player each time he takes the floor. He has also developed a consistent mid-range jumper that has aided in opening up driving lanes for teammates to exploit. With Basabe you know what you’re going to get, and his leadership will continue to be important as the season progresses.
Zach McCabe (senior)
McCabe has provided his usual toughness and energy in his fourth and final season while also developing into one of the more dangerous 3pt threats for the Hawkeyes. Although I have never been a great supporter of his, I must admit that he has played to his potential and role better this season than in any of his previous three. If he can continue shooting 41 percent from behind the arc and 78 percent from the line McCabe will finish his career playing his best basketball (and maybe improbably reach the 1,000pt mark).
Aaron White (junior)
On the floor for the fewest minutes in his career due to Iowa’s depth, White is playing more efficient basketball than ever before. The versatile forward currently leads the Big Ten in both field goal and free throw percentage (67.8% and 85.7% respectively). A strong argument can be made that White has been the most impressive Hawkeye player so far this season. If he remains aggressive White has an opportunity for more huge games (see a 25pt, 17reb performance against Iowa State), and potential consideration for 1st team all-conference honors.
Jarrod Uthoff (redshirt-sophomore)
One of the greater unknowns heading into the 2013-14 season, Uthoff has proven himself to be Iowa’s biggest weapon coming off of the bench. The Wisconsin transfer ranks among the top three on the team in points, rebounds, blocks, FG%, FT%, and 3pt%. As Uthoff’s game and confidence continue to evolve he will be one of the more important members of this Hawkeye squad.
Adam Woodbury (sophomore)
Simply put, the 7-1 center has not developed at the rate Hawkeye fans were looking for. Noticeable improvement has been lacking in all of Woodbury’s game besides free throw shooting. If there is one dark spot on this Iowa team’s progression from a year ago it would be this Sioux City, Iowa native.
Gabe Olaseni (junior)
The ultra-athletic junior continues to see his skills and playing time ascend as he is in the midst of by far his best season as a Hawkeye. Olaseni’s energy on both ends of the floor has made his activity hell for opposing big men to try and match, especially since he enters the game fresh off of the bench. He is currently averaging 6.6ppg and probably hasn’t had a single play drawn up for him all year. The relentless effort and shot-blocking ability of Olaseni (1.8bpg) have been just two more of the factors contributing to Iowa’s early season success.
Fran McCaffery has continued the ascension of the Iowa program in 2013-14. The Hawkeyes are two late game breakdowns from being undefeated against an above average non-conference slate. McCaffery has done a fantastic job blending together the numerous players and lineups at his disposal. Iowa is primed to make a run at the upper echelon of the Big Ten standings in large part due to its head coach.