November 6, 2007

Big Ten Basketball Preview - Iowa

The Hawkeyes are one of 3 Big Ten teams with a new coach. Unfortunate for Todd Lickliter is the fact that his team probably has the least talent of the three. The Hawkeyes did finish the season 9-7, but 3 of their top 4 scorers have left and their top 2 rebounders are gone, leaving this team with some serious holes to fill. Lickliter hopes to instill a new culture in Iowa City that involves, "just trying to do the right thing, treating people the way you want to be treated, wanting to compete, [and] having team success as the ultimate reward for your work.'' This what he refers to as "The Butler Way" (sounds to me like he might meet up with Denny on "The Highroad")

PG - Tony Freeman - the teams leading, returning scorer and best player seems primed to have a big junior season. Freeman is 2nd on the career scorer list at his former high school. 1st is somebody named Isaiah Thomas, so 2nd isn't so bad. He is a very good scorer and a reliable PG to boot. Last season he finished top 10 in the B10 in assists and ast:turnover ratio. If teams want to stop the Hawkeyes it will have to start here.

NOTE - Freeman has a foot injury which is expected to sideline him 4-6 weeks. OUCH

SG - Dan Bohall - sophomore guard who wasn't expected to start for the Hawkeyes but was one of the first five last week in their exhibition opener.

SF- Justin Johnson - played the most min and scored the most points in Iowa's exhibition blowout of DIII Simpson last week. Johnson shot 45.5% from behind the arc last year and should be a big piece of Coach Lickliter's offensive system that always gets open shots for it's shooters.

PF - Kurt Loobey - 6'10" senior who has some talent. Looby averaged only 3.8 ppg / 4.6 rpg but was 4th in the Big Ten in blocked shots. This season should be an opportunity for Loobey to greatly expand his numbers, but we'll see. It is always good to have experience and size in your frontcourt, we'll see how that translates to wins for Iowa.

C - Seth Gorney - started a little more than half of the Hawkeye's games last year. The 7-foot senior should be a nice, big presence in the paint. But man of this size who hasn't started consistently until his 4th year and is coming off a 5.5 ppg / 3.8 rpg season isn't exactly going to set the league on fire. It could be worse for the Hawkeyes but it isn't going to lead to immediate success for Coach Lickliter.

Key Bench - Cyrus Tate - Junior PF gives the Hawkeyes another experienced big man.
Key Bench - David Palmer - I guess the former president and friend of Jack Bauer is ready to contribute to the Hawkeyes this year. Palmer did not play last year as a transfer. He is yet another big body for Iowa and may have the most scoring abilities.
Key Bench - JR Angle - good shooter and good size, but lack of experience makes him an unkown
Key Bench - Jake Kelly - 6'6" SF, freshman who has been impressive to Coach Lickliter and staff.

Prediction - I don't hold out much hope for the Hawkeyes. They are kind of the antithesis of Northwestern. The Hawkeyes have plenty of upperclassmen on their roster but seem to be lacking in talent. They have some big bodies in the paint and they are led by a very good PG in Tony Freeman. The Hawkeye's success will come down to 2 things. 1-how far can Tony Freeman take them. He is going to have to put this team on his back at times and carry them. 2-how will will they defend. Coach Lickliter has a challenging but historically successful defensive system. The current roster is going to have to learn it fast and execute if flawlessly to remain competitive in the B10. Ultimately I see them fighting with Northwestern Penn State to stay out of 11th place.

No comments: