Observations from Iowa’s Cancun Challenge Loss to Wichita State

Posted by KTrahan on November 22nd, 2012

Iowa suffered its first loss of the season on Wednesday, falling 75-63 to Wichita State in the finale of the Cancun Challenge. The Hawkeyes shot just 26.1 percent in the loss. Here are a few observations from the game.

Iowa Had Serious Struggles Shooting in Cancun Wednesday

Frontcourt play. Iowa made just four of 31 shots from inside the arc and could get absolutely nothing going inside. Even crazier, the Hawkeyes made seven threes and just one two-pointer in the first half, but still led 35-33 at halftime. However, Wichita State’s dominance in the frontcourt was too much for Iowa to overcome in the second half and the Hawkeyes didn’t have the physicality to keep up. Iowa has a lot of height, but it doesn’t have a seasoned big man to outmuscle other teams inside. Wichita State big man Ehimen Orukpe had five blocks and kept the Hawkeyes out of the paint. Iowa also didn’t get much out of center Adam Woodbury, who was clearly over-matched by Orukpe. The Hawkeyes must find a way to get points in the paint this year in the Big Ten.

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Iowa Uses a Different Formula to Beat Gardner-Webb

Posted by KTrahan on November 19th, 2012

A nine-point win over Gardner-Webb is hardly something to be proud of, but the way Iowa took down the Runnin’ Bulldogs sure is cause for celebration in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes trailed 38-18 at halftime and were down by as many as 23 points at one point in the first half, before storming back to outscore Gardner-Webb 47-18 in the second half to escape with a 65-56 win on Saturday. Last year, this is a game Iowa surely would have lost. The Hawkeyes had a brutal non-conference season, which included a 16-point loss to Campbell. Iowa struggled with its defense last year, which hurt its resume and kept it off the NCAA Tournament bubble, but the Hawkeyes figure to be an NCAA Tournament contender this year, so this was the kind of game they couldn’t lose. They knew that, and they didn’t.

Fran McCaffery’s Group Appears to be Buying Into Defense This Year (credit: AP)

Perhaps the most encouraging part of Iowa’s win was how the Hawkeyes came back. We always knew they could score, but the question was whether they could stop anyone after last year’s abysmal defensive display. We got our answer over the weekend, as defense and the subsequent transition offense led Iowa’s comeback. “I think we buy into the defensive end a little bit more,” Iowa sophomore Aaron White said. “When you give up 18 points in the second half, that’s the difference. Last year we would have just tried to put 60 on them in the second half.”

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Big Ten M5: 11.05.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 5th, 2012

  1. Exhibition games don’t mean much in the grand scheme of the season, but you get a good first look at the freshmen. Michigan State’s Gary Harris is arguably the most interesting freshman in the conference and will be scrutinized especially as Branden Dawson tries to get back to 100% after an ACL injury. After two exhibition games, Harris has impressed Tom Izzo on the offensive end of the court. He looked really good off the dribble in the game against Northwood and scored 14 points. However, he admits that he needs to be more effective on defense specifically against the pick-and-roll. Izzo will demand Harris’ improvement on defense but his offensive production will help the Spartans during the non-conference season.
  2. Speaking of freshmen in the league, Purdue has a couple of good guards who are expected to contribute immediately. Even though Ronnie Johnson and Rapheal Davis were not ranked in the top 30 by Rivals coming out of high school, both of them have the talent to be very good players in the league. Each of the freshman guards scored 16 points in Purdue’s exhibition win over Newberry with Davis scoring all of his points in the second half. Ronnie Johnson may be the primary point guard in the rotation after the departure of Lewis Jackson but Davis will play a significant role off the bench. Guard Terone Johnson (9.1 PPG last season) will carry the offensive load for the Boilermakers; he scored 18 points in the exhibition.
  3. As Matt Painter tries to incorporate new talent into the rotation, Bo Ryan has to figure out how to replace Josh Gasser at the point guard position. Every guard on the roster will need to help out with Gasser’s loss and the latest scrimmage in Madison has obviously led to more scrutiny of the guards. Redshirt freshman George Marshall has been impressive and appears to be the frontrunner to replace Gasser. Traevon Jackson‘s jumpers were a good sign and Ben Brust showed why his minutes will increase this season — Brust averaged 7.3 PPG in 21 MPG last season and is expected to play a key role in the backcourt. Ryan once again praised Frank Kaminsky, a forward who has a good jumper for a big guy which fits perfectly in the Ryan’s offensive system.
  4. The Iowa Hawkeyes are considered a sleeper in the Big Ten mainly due to their underclassmen such as Aaron White (11.1 PPG) and Adam Woodbury. Junior wing Roy Devyn Marble (11.5 PPG) will be their primary scorer offensively, but Fran McCaffery believes that Eric May, the only senior with a scholarship on the roster, needs to be effective for Iowa to meet their lofty expectations this season. May averaged 4.3 PPG in 14.7 PPG last year but wants to be a lock-down defender for the Hawkeyes during his final season. May is supposed to be in “great shape” according to the coaches and Iowa will definitely need somebody to set the tempo on the defensive end after losing Matt Gatens to graduation. They will push the tempo and play a fast brand of basketball but if they are not able to defend, McCaffery’s team will fall short of making the NCAA Tournament.
  5. Speaking of former Big Ten seniors, Illinois’ Mike Davis was drafted as the fifth overall player in the NBA Development League over the weekend. Davis had a solid career at Illinois as he averaged at least 11 PPG from his sophomore season on. He was not highly recruited out of high school but former Illini coach Bruce Weber appreciated his work ethic and intensity. Davis also averaged eight rebounds per game during the final three seasons, and he has the size (6’9″) to continue to play professional basketball at some level for a few years. He might not make the NBA but he can certainly work his way out of the Development League and possibly play in Europe for a few seasons.
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Big Ten Team Previews: Iowa Hawkeyes

Posted by KTrahan on October 16th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Big Ten microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Where we left off: Last time we saw Iowa, the Hawkeyes were getting run over for 108 points by Oregon in the second round of the NIT. Of course, it was an accomplishment for the program to even get back to the NIT after a promising season, and now, with a number of stars back, Iowa is looking to take the next step to the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Fran McCaffery has done a good job of turning the team around, and now, in year three, expectations are high. Clearly McCaffery has his team on the right track, but is this the year Iowa finally makes it back to the NCAA Tournament? There is a lot of inexperience on parts of the court, but enough talent is certainly there for the Hawkeyes to make a run.

Fran McCaffery Has His Team on the Right Track (credit: AP)

Positives: Iowa’s biggest strength this winter will be its depth, and in fact, that could represent the most difficult part of McCaffery’s job. The Hawkeyes may have a hard time finding playing time for everyone with so much returning experience and new talent. Junior guard Roy Devyn Marble and sophomore forward Aaron White are locks to start, and they’ll likely be joined by junior forward Melsahn Basabe and freshman point guard Mike Gesell, but after that, the distribution of minutes gets foggy. Junior forward Zach McCabe will likely see considerable minutes, as will freshman center Adam Woodbury, but sophomore center Gabe Olaseni, who McCaffery calls the team’s most improved player, will also be slated for some time. In the backcourt, sophomore shooting specialist Josh Oglesby, freshman point guard Anthony Clemmons and senior Eric May will all push for playing time. There are a lot of different looks that this team can show, and while it might be difficult to figure out playing time, that’s a very good problem to have.

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Big Ten Weekly Five: 09.28.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on September 28th, 2012

  1. Illinois head coach John Groce could have pulled off one of the best recruiting months of Illini basketball if top 30 recruit Demetrius Jackson would have chosen to play college basketball in Champaign. But instead, one of the best point guards of his class decided to play for Notre Dame instead of Illinois. Illini fans were already excited when Kendrick Nunn, a 6’2″ shooting guard and top 75 recruit, committed earlier in September, but they eagerly waited for Jackson’s decision on September 27. The combination of Jackson and Nunn would have set Illinois back on track to competing for Big Ten titles and beyond. Malcolm Hill, a 6’5″ wing and a top 100 recruit, will join Nunn next year as Groce continues to impress the Orange Krush with his recruiting prowess. Tracy Abrams (4.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG) and Joseph Bertrand (6.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG) will most likely be back next season to star in the uptempo, guard-oriented offense that Groce plans to implement at Illinois.
  2. Continuing with the recruiting theme, Tom Izzo‘s recent interview with the Detroit Free Press touches on several topics about his recruiting philosophy. Never hesitant to be candid about this opinion, Izzo discussed his view on the “one-and-done” type of recruits. Izzo says, “I never shied away from getting the one-and-done guy but I don’t think I want too many of them.” He also praised John Calipari for his coaching job with last year’s group of freshmen but Izzo prefers to be around a group of veterans. Over the years, several great four-year players have passed through Izzo’s system such as Mateen Cleaves, Kalin Lucas and most recently, Draymond Green. Michigan State is one of several teams that are chasing one of the best high school prospects of 2013, Jabari Parker, a forward from Chicago. Even though Izzo doesn’t consistently recruit top 10 classes, he is among the best in the business in terms of player development because his players consistently improve their game over their time in East Lansing.
  3. Speaking of highly recruited players, Hawkeye fans have to be excited about their freshmen class for the upcoming season. Fran McCafferey landed a top 25 recruiting class last season and the freshmen will be under the spotlight this season trying to prove their preseason hype on the court. Adam Woodbury, a 7’1″ center and a top 50 recruit, hopes to provide a much-needed presence in the paint in addition to returning senior forward Melsahn Basabe who averaged 4.8 RPG during the 2011-12 season. Another top 100 recruit, Mike Gesell, should be part of the rotation because he is a true point guard. Both of the freshmen ought to pick up McCafferey’s uptempo offense  (65.8 possessions per game) fairly quickly but don’t necessarily need presume any major offensive responsibilities during their first season. Returning wings Roy Devyn Marble (11.5 PPG) and Zach McCabe (7.8 PPG) will carry the primary scoring responsibilities during this season.
  4. Midnight Madness has become an annual television event on the ESPN family of networks. Marquee programs such as Michigan State and Kentucky are on TV and tens of thousands of fans show up for the first main event of the hoops season. Tom Crean and his Indiana Hoosiers will hold a closed practice on October 12 that will be aired on ESPNU as part of the Midnight Madness festivities. Former interim coach and current ESPN basketball analyst Dan Dakich will be in Bloomington for the event and Crean will also wear a microphone during the practice. The Hoosiers will also be one of the most televised teams this season as they are scheduled to appear 12 times on ESPN and three times on CBS this year.
  5. Do you prefer computers to determine the preseason rankings? Or would you rather have coaches and media vote for their Top 25 based on their knowledge of the teams? If you prefer the latter, you probably won’t agree with Dan Hanner of UM Hoops who ranks Michigan outside of the Top 25 for the upcoming season. Most of the publications already released have Michigan listed as a top 10 team but nobody else believes that they belong outside of the top 25, especially with three key returning players – Tim Hardaway, Jr., Jordan Morgan and Trey Burke — on the roster. Hanner cites the departure of two seniors, Zach Novak and Stu Douglass, as one of the main reasons for Michigan’s drop in his rankings. Novak’s 41% shooting from beyond the arc along with Douglass’ versatility to play point guard will be missed, but it may not linger throughout the season. Losing seniors will always hurt a young team but John Beilein has the non-conference season to figure out how to incorporate star freshmen Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III into his rotation. As long as Burke and Hardaway take on the challenge of guiding the younger players, Beilein’s crew should be ready to compete for the Big Ten conference title and a trip to the Final Four.
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Who’s Got Next? Recruiting Scandals, Updated Player Interests and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 10th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Each week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com. 

Introduction

From another recruiting scandal to new developments on an old recruiting scandal, this week has been full of news and headlines in the high school basketball world and also includes the best class of 2012 guard in the country de-committing. There have been several updates as well on top prospects from sophomores to seniors regarding their favorite schools and numerous guys have continued to step up their performances throughout the AAU circuit.  Let’s take a deeper look…

What We Learned 

Rodney Purvis (#7) is considering Duke, Kentucky, Louisville and North Carolina State after de-committing.

Louisville Loses Purvis. In a somewhat expected move, the best Class of 2012 guard in the country, shooting guard Rodney Purvis (#7), backed out of his commitment to Louisville after assistant coach Tim Fuller left to take a job at Missouri. However, Louisville has brought in a new assistant coach, Kevin Keatts, who has coached many guys from Purvis’ AAU team and has done well recruiting in the Raleigh area, Purvis’ hometown. Before he chose the Cardinals, Purvis considered Duke, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Xavier, among others, but has already come out with a new list featuring Duke and Kentucky (again), Louisville (still), and North Carolina State. North Carolina and Missouri are also expected to jump in because Purvis is an RTP native and has obvious ties with the Tigers since their new assistant coach is the reason he chose the Cardinals orginally. Purvis said he’ll be looking for a stable coaching situation and a strong relationship with a staff going forward (to see the rest of Purvis’ comments, check out the “What They’re Saying” section below) and that he hasn’t ruled out Louisville. Another thing to note is that he hasn’t yet talked to new NC State head coach Mark Gottfried

High School Powerhouse Oak Hill Adds Elite Shooting Guard. In a surprising move, Class of 2012 shooting guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (#32) will be transferring from North Central High School (IN) to powerhouse Oak Hill Academy (VA) for his senior season. Smith-Rivera will be joining an already talented squad that has junior wings Jordan Adams (#50) and Damien Wilson as well as center A.J. Hammons (#48). The news was confirmed Saturday night by his mother, Kelana Rivera, but shocked North Central head coach Doug Mitchell (see the “What They’re Saying” section below). Smith-Rivera was a three-year starter and played a key role in North Central’s 2010 state championship. He committed to Xavier last year but later de-committed and told us that Texas, Baylor, UCLA and Georgetown are his favorites right now. He also hasn’t made any public statements about this transfer but Rivera cited playing for Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith and the good opportunity to prepare for college as to why he’s doing so.

Tony Wroten, Jr., Involved In Academic Scandal. Just one week after the Kevin Ware and UCF recruiting scandal, the Seattle Times discovered that the Garfield High School (WA) athletic director in 2010, Jim Valiere, had given Class of 2011 point guard Tony Wroten Jr. (#14 – Washington) and another star athlete passing grades in a Spanish class that never existed. Wroten, Jr., and the other student, Valentino Coleman, told an investigator that Valiere did little more than occasionally quiz them in the hallway last year. The UW commitment needed the class since it requires two years of foreign language credits to enroll. Now you would think that after an investigation discovered this incident, the Athletic Director would try to keep his hands clean, but right after this he created a tiny three-person remedial Spanish class taught by a substitute teachers specifically for Wroten, Jr. This class was district-approved but keep in mind that Garfield High School is already overcrowded and is cutting teachers due to the economy like everyone else. Despite all of this controversy and scandal, if Wroten, Jr., passes his final semester of Spanish this school year, the situation will not affect his UW eligibility, school officials said.

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