Someone has got to be to blame for Iowa basketball’s lackluster performance. Iowa basketball has once again fallen short to start the season, currently posting an overall record of 10-9, and a Big 10 Conference record of just 1-5. While the Hawkeyes notched their first win in conference play on January 11th against Illinois, the Fighting Illini took the Hawkeyes into overtime, and led by 12 points at one point during the game.
The Hawkeyes will square off against fellow Big 10 bottom-dweller the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Thursday night, with both teams looking to capture just their second conference victory of the season. While the Hawkeyes possess far more talent than Rutgers, the Hawkeyes have struggled thus far on the road this season, posting just a 1-4 record. Rutgers, on the other hand, who have played a whopping 16 home games, have managed an 11-5 mark defending their home court.
Iowa basketball’s poor performance could be contributed to lack of experience. The Hawkeyes only have two seniors on the roster in Charlie Rose and Dom Uhl, neither who are major contributors. Most the of the on-court leadership comes from sophomores Tyler Cook and Jordan Bohannon, both who appear much more raw and undeveloped than many expected this season. Junior forward Nicholas Baer, who has emerged as the spiritual leader of the team over the last several seasons with his hustle and energy, has under performed mightily. As seen over and over in college basketball, many times good leadership and cohesiveness as a unit beats talent. The Hawkeyes simply do not have a guy or core group that can get the team back on track when the rails come off.
Many Iowa City residents have also pointed the finger at head coach Fran McCaffery. McCaffery has done a great job in recruiting since he took the job at Iowa in 2011, but has struggled to develop players and translate raw talent into on-court performance. In his eighth seasons at Iowa, McCaffery has posted a .572 winning percentage and led the Hawkeyes to three NCAA tournament appearances, underwhelming the Iowa fan base as a result.
The 2017-2018 season has been a perfect example of McCaffery’s inability to develop talent, exemplified by the performance of four-star freshman center/forwards in Luka Garza and Jack Nunge. Both standing about seven feet tall, the thought of the “Twin Towers” paired with scorers like Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook seemed to be a match made in heaven for Hawkeye fans. It has been anything but so. Both freshman look disoriented on defense and simply out of place on offense, tending to only perform well when matched up against lesser skilled front courts.
Whether the problem has been coaching or leadership, the Hawkeyes hopes appear to be very slim for capturing an NCAA tournament berth. Barring a miracle, it looks to be another disappointing season for fans in Iowa City.