Thoughts, Observations, Notes from Hawkeyes Hoops Win Against UMKC
IOWA CITY, Iowa – There’s a saying that it’s a lot better to learn lessons in a win than in a loss. Iowa can use it following Thursday night’s 77-63, season-opening win against UMKC.
The Hawkeyes struggled in shaking a team it was heavily favored to beat. The Kangaroos lost their first game of the season, 76-45, at Loyola-Chicago Tuesday night. They were within nine of Iowa with less than six minutes to play before the home team closed it out.
The Hawkeyes came into the season wanting to play better defense. They were the worst in the Big Ten at it last year. They certainly looked much better Thursday night in that regard.
“It was kind of funny. We kind of joked around about it in the locker room. This is kind of the first time that offense has been our problem for a little bit. Our offense was a little stagnant and our defense really held us in there,” back-up center Ryan Kriener said.
Iowa allowed fewer than the 63 points scored by UMKC just two times last season. It didn’t happen at all in its final 30 games.
Hawkeye coach Fran McCaffery did a nice job of mixing up his defenses. He employed man-to-man, multiple zones and some full-court pressure.
“I thought their zone bothered us. Second game of the year, we haven’t had much zone work and their zone was very effective with their length,” UMKC coach Kareem Richardson said.
The night was not without its heated moments. McCaffery laid into his team on several occasions in the second half. When the Kangaroos opened the second half on a 7-1 run, the coach removed all of his starters and replaced them with second-teamers.
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“There was a stretch there where we were playing with no swag at all, and that’s one of those things I pointed out,” McCaffery said. “We’ve got to attack, move and play like we’re supposed to win the game.”
McCaffery felt his team settled for three-pointers in the first half. It shot 17 before the intermission with only eight attempts coming from inside the arc.
“I felt like we had an advantage in the post and I wanted to try to exploit that,” he said.
The Hawkeyes did a better job of that in the second half. For the game, they shot 38 free throw attempts to just 12 by UMKC.
-It seems like Tyler Cook has played too unselfishly at times during Sunday’s exhibition game and the opener. He took only two shots in the first half Thursday and isn’t punishing people around the rim as has been his trademark through two seasons. He did hand out a team-best five assists.
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Granted, UMKC was doubling him, but Iowa needs to find a way to free him up inside.
-Junior guard Maishe Dailey showed again that he can be a valuable member of this team. He scored six first-half points with the offense faltering and finished with 11 points. He also defended UMKC’s slashing and cutting very well.
-Connor McCaffery, Fran’s son, looked more relaxed and in control Thursday than he was when he turned the ball over four times in the exhibition game. He handed out three assists without a turnover against UMKC in 19:43 minutes.
-After missing two weeks with a bone bruise, point guard Jordan Bohannon started Thursday. He scored 12 points, handed out three assists and turned it over four times in 24:42 minutes.
-Freshman Joe Wieskamp helped Dailey save Iowa in the first half. While everyone else was misfiring from behind the arc, he was knocking them down. He sank 4 of 5 from deep in the first half and finished with 15 points in his college debut.
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“It’s what we expected,” Fran McCaffery said. “The game comes easy to him. If he’s open, he shoots. If there is space, he drives it. If he’s covered, he moves it on. He plays both ends of the floor.”
-Starting shooting guard Isaiah Moss experienced a tough night. He scored just three points in 14:59 minutes, and gave up minutes to Dailey and Connor McCaffery.
-Iowa turned the ball over 16 times with only 15 assists.
“We’ve got to clean that up,” Wieskamp said. “Our team goal is to keep it under 10, so we have to take care of the ball better and make the most of each possession.”
-Cook and Kriener shared game-high rebounding honors with eight apiece.
-Iowa announced before the game that second-year forward Jack Nunge will be red shirting this season. He joined true freshman guard C.J. Fredrick in that designation.
The Hawkeyes boast plenty of depth this season, which is why the moves make sense. It also creates some more balance in the classes.
“After discussing with my family and coaching staff I have decided to redshirt this season,” Nunge said in a university press release. “This decision is not related to an injury, but rather I would like to take the opportunity to use this year to grow my skillset and get stronger. We have an incredibly deep team and I look forward to helping make my teammates and myself better in practice this season.”