Iowa basketball has rebounded from a 4-6 start to the season, winning their last five contests in dominant fashion. The turnaround has come in large part to an offensive explosion, with the Hawkeyes putting up over 90 points in four of the five victories.
While the Hawkeyes success has come against some lower level opponents, it is important for the young team to build confidence as they head into Big 10 play. Although only one of the five teams the Hawkeyes beat over the five game win streak comes from a power conference (Colorado Buffaloes), Iowa has managed to dominate their mid major opponents. Iowa’s average margin of victory in those four games was an impressive 27 points.
Coach Fran McCaffery runs a 10 man rotation, with the Iowa bench providing over half of their scoring production on the season. Iowa’s depth has provided coach McCaffery with the ability to go to the hot hand when in need of offensive production, and provide favorable matchups for the Hawkeyes defensively.
The Hawkeyes top performer over the win streak has been freshman center/forward Luka Garza. Garza has been a monster on both ends of the floor, averaging 16 points and 7.2 rebounds over his last five while shooting over 64%. Garza’s hot streak came to a head on Friday night when he posted 25 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocks. Garza also made all eight of his shots en route to a 98-75 pounding of the Northern Illinois Huskies.
Sophomore guard Jordan Bohannon has been a bit inconsistent over the course of the season, evident in the Hawkeyes last five games. Bohannon managed five or less points in three of the five games, while scoring 15 points in the other two games. Bohannon has had an interesting season shooting the ball, as his three point percentage (43.5%) ranks higher than his overall shooting percentage (42.2%). While Bohannon is mostly called upon to hit threes, especially in clutch situations, when he cools off it can be problematic for the Hawkeyes to find consistent production elsewhere from beyond the arc.
The rock for Iowa, however, has been sophomore forward Tyler Cook. Cook leads the Hawkeyes in points and field goal percentage, and ranks second on the team in rebounds and minutes played. Cook is also largely considered to one of Iowa’s best defenders, as he usually guards the opponent’s best post player.
Coach Fran McCaffery seems to have this Hawkeye team on the right track as they enter Big 10 play on January 2nd against the Michigan Wolverines. Iowa appears to be growing into a more cohesive unit on both ends of the floor, which will be vital it they want to compete in conference play going forward.