MBB: VanLaere's Thoughts on the Exhibition Win

November 7, 2011

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Hawkeye Nation

By Justin VanLaere

Hawkeye fans got their first glimpse of the 2011-12 edition of the Iowa Men’s Basketball team yesterday afternoon.  It wasn’t the prettiest of performances by any stretch of the imagination, however it did show the amount of versatility Coach McCaffery has with this year’s squad.  As Brendan Stiles pointed out, Iowa used 13 different lineups in the first half alone.  Iowa’s opponent, Northwest Missouri State, was a very competent opponent.  The Bearcats brought in a senior center, a slashing wing, and a lightning quick point guard to test the Hawkeyes… and test they did.  Now don’t get me wrong, NWMS isn’t going to win the DII Championship, they will have a tough enough time competing in the MIAA again this year.  That said, the skill sets brought into Carver really tested Iowa in areas they needed to work on, so the exhibition did what it was supposed to do.

Some Hawkeye fans will look at the 20 point win as a sign of bad things to come. You have to keep it in perspective when it comes to these exhibition games.  Arizona lost to DII Seattle Pacific.  Minnesota was down 5 points at the half to Augustana College and had to rally in the 2nd half to win.  Michigan only scored 47 points against Wayne State in their exhibition game (they lead by just 4 points with 12 minutes to go).  I think you get my point.  Exhibition games are meant to be used to work out the kinks a la NFL preseason games.

Onto the game itself.  I really didn’t appreciate how the officials controlled the tempo of the game.  Sure, there was sloppy play, but there were a number of ticky tack fouls called throughout the game that really should have been allowed.  It really took the rhythm out of the game; the refs should have swallowed their whistles a bit.

If you missed it, you can read the Live Chat we had during the game HERE.

Overall, Iowa looked very sloppy at times on both ends of the court.  They have a lot of things to iron out before the conference schedule starts.  Their non-conference is set up perfectly to allow them to do just that.

Areas of Concern

  • Defensive Rebounding.  Iowa, especially in the first half, really failed to get a body on the NWMS players.   Several Hawkeyes were fading and leaking back to the offensive side of the court.  While I realize there are certain players that won’t be crashing the board in order to set up the fast break, there were bigs and wings floating too often.  The amount of offensive rebounds surrendered will not cut it in B1G play.
  • Interior Defense.  Iowa’s bigs were consistently schooled in the first half of the game.  NWMS went backdoor on the Hawkeyes a couple times, and several times the bigs for Iowa looked lost.  Either the communication was poor or some of the players just missed assignments.  Wide open lanes and wide open opponent bigs are never a good thing.
  • Intensity.  Sure it was an exhibition game, but it was a chance to get on the court and have some fun.  There were several players who looked like they didn’t want to be out on the court and/or weren’t taking the game too seriously.  This isn’t to say all the guys played this way, but there were some and it was little concerning even for an exhibition game.  I don’t expect this to be an issue down the road, especially considering how Coach McCaffery addressed some of those players.

Areas to Applaud

  • Iowa’s Versatility.  I was really impressed with the different lineups that Iowa put on the court.  We saw true freshman, Aaron White, at the 5.  Devyn Marble at the 1.  There was even a period of time when Iowa had both Gatens and Oglesby on the court at once.
  • Fran’s Counting on the Freshmen.  Now this could be considered an area of concern purely on the fact that Iowa will have some inexperience on the court.  However, I think it speaks volumes of the recruiting job the staff has done.  Iowa has the most senior backcourt in the B1G, yet they will need help from Josh Oglesby at the 2.  With the injury to Andrew Brommer, Fran has given White some time at the center position.  Olaseni didn’t get much PT, but Fran has been happy with his play in practice.  Overall, getting these three guys playing time will help strengthen and deepen the team.  Even more help is on the way next year, which is something to get excited about.
  • Depth.  This sort of ties the first two points, but it’s valid.  While Iowa is very thin at PG, the Hawks have many more players who they can throw onto the court and be ok with them contributing.  The same couldn’t be said last year.  This will allow Iowa to press more, to run more, and to hopefully win more.

Player Evaluations

Matt Gatens – It was a typical Matt Gatens night.  Scored the most points, hit some treys, made all of the FTs he put up, played some solid D, logged the most minutes and played hard.  Matt’s shot looks good as it ever has.  He scored a couple times on the low block during a few inbounds plays, as he was able to post up his smaller defender.  I’m not sure he will get away with that in the B1G, but you always take what you can get.  He got caught deep a couple times, something Iowa fans are used to seeing.  It will be interesting to see if Matt gets the senior calls this year, especially those going to the hoop.

Bryce Cartwright – Foul trouble in the first half cut into his playing time, but he looked the part.  Picking up from an All-Big Team campaign last year, Iowa will be fine at the point as long as Bryce can stay out of foul trouble and stay healthy.  He hit a couple nice mid-range jumpers, as well as a three ball.  Unfortunately, he forced a trey on the possession following his first three he hit, though.  Overall, average night.  Nothing really stood out either way.

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Eric May – Eric really is an odd player, and I don’t mean that to be rude.  He is just very tough to figure out and evaluate.  There are times he looks great and there are times he completely disappears.  In this game, his shot was not falling, but he did a lot of the little things throughout (forced a jump ball at one point).  Played some tough defense, hit a nice turnaround jumper, and also got out in transition (albeit a missed dunk).  His ball handling still isn’t where it needs to be from a true wing player, so it’s tough to see him as competent slasher.  He’s  going to likely get his points on treys, dunks, and mid-range jumpers.  I did think his passing was much improved over last season.

Melsahn Basabe – Really disappointed in Basabe’s performance, as I am sure he was too.  Really never got into the flow of the game.  Looked like he was just going through the motions at times.  As I’ve stated before, I think there is a good chance that Mel has a bit of a sophomore slump this season.  I say that solely on the fact that people know who he is and they will start to key on him, especially if Iowa cannot find a viable option at the center position.  This game certainly didn’t change my mind on that front.  There’s a lot of talent with Mel, Iowa just needs to get it out of him every moment he is on the court.

Devon Archie – Really plays hard, even if the skills don’t necessarily compliment the drive.  Had a couple of really good looks down low on the offensive end, but had a couple lapses on the D end.  Some things still don’t look like they naturally come to him.  Archie can be valuable to this team off the bench, but I think you will see Brommer in the starting lineup once he is healthy enough to play.  Devon has put on some more muscle, which will compliment his athleticism very well.  He just needs to put it all together.  Really, really like his attitude and his drive on the court.

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Zach McCabe – You can tell he’s stronger than last year.  He did not get pushed off the block as much as he did last year.  It looks like Zach has found a home at the PF spot for Iowa.  Finished at the hole a couple times in the game.  Another guy that plays really hard, as well.  Expect Zach to be the first or second player off the bench this season.

Aaron White – While he made a lot of freshman mistakes, White did a lot of good things on the court.  He came in with McCabe as the first subs off the bench replacing not a 3 or 4, but Archie at center.  Interesting move and lineup for McCaffery.  Even more interesting is seeing White at the point on the 1-2-1-1 / 1-2-2 press (I couldn’t tell which press it was because the back two guys were always in different positions).  Aaron had a really nice baseline dunk, and several other baseline takes.  He passes the ball very well for his size.  Very long player that can play pretty much any of the spots on the floor expect point.  He airballed the first three he put up, but responded later in the game by splashing one in.  Aaron was blocked several times going baselines, but he also blocked a few shots on the other end.  He looked lost a couple times on defense, as well.

Devyn Marble – Besides Cartwright, he is going to be the only other true slasher on the team.  Doesn’t have exceptional handles, but he is serviceable with the ball.  It will be nice to see how much time Marble can log at the wing instead of the PG spot, as he is much better suited there.  He didn’t look very comfortable in the game, but he did have a couple nice takes.  He did stay in the game at one point when Cartwright was playing point (he was playing the 3 while Josh O played the 2).  Best part of Marble’s game is that he can get to the lane and get to the bucket, that will be big this year for Iowa.

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Josh Oglesby – Received a lot of playing time in the first half.  His release was a lot slower than I recall.  He hit the first trey he put up, and missed one later.  Average ball handler, but he did get caught picking up his dribble on several occasions.  Nothing extraordinary out of Josh in this game, but showed his range.

Gabe Olaseni -Limited playing time during the game.  Got caught on a pump fake by NWMS big and committed the foul, something he will need to work on this year.  Really not enough face time to make a good assessment of what Iowa fans might see.  Long, lean, athletic, everything that has been advertised.  Hopefully he can learn the system quick enough to contribute, especially if Brommer does not heal from his injury.  He’ll need to be a fast learner considering he has only a few years of organized basketball under his belt.  The tools are there, though.

Branden Stubbs – I still think Stubbs can play some spot minutes for Iowa.  I’m not sure the PG spot is the place for him, though.  He is competent in that area, but is forced to bring the ball up with his back to the basket to protect the ball.  Some of the other B1G PGs will be all over him.  That said, I still like his shot, can hit the deep ball (made one in this game).  He was the first walk-on to get into the ballgame for Iowa.

Darius Stokes – Stokes came in during the last minute of action.  Didn’t see much, but he is definitely stronger than last year.  I was surprised to see how much he had bulked up.  Could give valuable minutes down the road in his career at Iowa, but I don’t see it happening this season.

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