Big Ten Season Wrap-Up: Iowa

Posted by jnowak on May 22nd, 2012

Let’s not be fooled by the Matt Gatens Show we all witnessed ¬†at the end of the season. (Though, give credit where credit is due — he was fantastic.) This is a talented young club that is on the rise and has the potential to give some conference teams fits in the near future, given their fast-paced style of basketball in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten. But as good as this team was on the offensive end (third in the conference) it was even more dismal on the defensive end (last place). That discrepancy must improve for Iowa to have a shot at becoming a contender in the conference. Let’s take a look back at the year that was:

Matt Gatens was one of the Big Ten's best players down the stretch. (Andy Lyons, Getty Images)

  • In a nutshell: Fran McCaffery‘s run-and-gun style of offense is really starting to take shape in Iowa City, where the Hawkeyes averaged 73 PPG, third only behind Ohio State and Indiana. It helped that the Hawkeyes led the conference in steals, but the wins didn’t add up in spite of the offense due to the dismal defense (allowing 72.5 PPG). Gatens, who worked his way onto the All-Big Ten Third Team thanks to his team-best 15.7 PPG and late-season spurt, did all he could. He got some help from promising sophomores Melsahn Basabe and Roy Devyn Marble, who are sure to be key pieces in the future.
  • Overachievement: The Big Ten had absolutely no shortage of impact freshmen (see Trey Burke, Cody Zeller, Branden Dawson, et al) but Aaron White was a somewhat unexpected yet consistent force for Iowa. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a newcomer and, in a few more years, could definitely show Big Ten Player of the Year-type talent. He was rated by Rivals as just a three-star recruit out of high school, but showed his big-game mettle by scoring 47 points in Iowa’s two NIT games.
  • Underachievement: Iowa certainly wasn’t billed as an elite defensive team heading into the conference season, but it’s impossible to compete for a title in the Big Ten if you can’t defend. The Hawkeyes’ offense was great, but the defense was bad enough to leave any high-scoring offensive performance in doubt. Three opponents (Central Arkansas, Indiana, and Oregon) scored more than 100 points against Iowa this season, and Michigan State put up 95 in a 34-point blowout.
  • Defining moment: The Michigan State blowout was one thing (and that loss to Central Arkansas is pitiful) but those losses to Oregon and Indiana, in which Iowa averaged 93 points, are really hard to stomach. No Big Ten team should be scoring in the 90s and lose. Those contests were a perfect example of how potent a team’s offense can be, but if the defense still stinks, losses will still pile up.
  • Final grade: The Hawkeyes offense would get an A, and the defense would get an F, so that’s got to leave the overall team grade somewhere in the middle, right? There were some outstanding individual performances from this club, which is definitely on the rise and should be noted in the future. But if the defense doesn’t improve, none of it will matter. Overall grade: C
jnowak (138 Posts)


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