Here’s what we learned from Iowa’s loss to Notre Dame on Tuesday night
The losing streak continued as Iowa basketball dropped their third straight game. Notre Dame pulled away at the end of the game to hand Iowa its fourth loss of the season, 92-78.
The Hawkeyes are now 3-4 on the year but will have easier opponents in Omaha and Stetson in front of them.
Nonetheless, it was Iowa’s first true road game of the season, which tells a lot about a team. It’s especially true this season now that Tyler Cook is out three weeks with a broken finger. Traveling to an undefeated team for the first true road game of the season is hard enough, let alone also losing one of their only consistent contributors this season.
Even though they suffered their second double-digit loss in three games, Iowa played the Irish tough and didn’t allow them to pull away until the last couple of minutes.
Iowa’s ability to keep the game close comes as somewhat of a surprise. The Hawkeyes only shot 38 percent from the field and Notre Dame out-rebounded them 45-32. Iowa lost two important battles in the game, but they went on enough runs to stay in it until the end.
Here are takeaways from Iowa’s fourth loss of the season.
After scoring 42 points and Iowa still losing to Memphis, it’s hard to say that any amount from Peter Jok will be enough. That being said, Iowa could have gained the momentum and taken a sizable lead over Notre Dame if Jok’s shot was falling.
Jok finished the game shooting a dreadful 4-of-20 from the field and 2-of-11 from three. He still finished with 15 points, six rebounds and two steals, but he also missed his first free-throws of the season.
It’s not all Jok’s fault that Iowa lost, but, especially with Tyler Cook sidelined, Iowa can’t afford him to have any off-nights. That’s a tall task, even for a senior, but the Hawkeyes can’t beat good teams without Jok efficiently scoring 20-25 points.
Besides the fact that he’s been Iowa’s most consistent scorer and go-to player this season, he takes up a lot of shots. Fran McCaffery will always try to get Jok going, even when he struggles for all but the last 1:13 of the first half, because Iowa could have won if Jok’s shot started to fall halfway through the second half.
Although, in hindsight, 20 shots seems like McCaffery and Jok became over aggressive trying to get him going. Jok started to force shots while being double-teamed and missed open jumpers. Notre Dame tried to get him out of his rhythm early, and it worked.
20 shots for a player shooting 20 percent for the field is too much and takes away opportunities from other players. At the same time, Iowa can’t give up on Jok because they’re a much better team when he’s scoring, which is why McCaffery continued to try to spark Jok’s offensive game.
This loss is far from being solely Peter Jok’s fault, but any belief that Iowa could win with a Jok injury or off-night against a good team is out the window.
Jordan Bohannon joined the starting lineup as Iowa’s starting point guard for the first time in his career. He didn’t disappoint as he finished with career-highs in scoring and three-point shooting. Bohannon had 23 points on seven made threes and seven assists with only one turnover.
Christian Williams struggled at the start of the season for Iowa, and his 15 minutes against Notre Dame seems like a more fitting role. That left the door open for Bohannon, and after one game moving him to the starting lineup looks like it might have significantly helped his outside shot.
Coming into the game, Bohannon only made 8-of-27 threes this season (29.6 percent). However, he made seven threes against Notre Dame on 15 attempts and led Iowa in scoring. He came to Iowa because of his outside shooting, and his inability to knock down outside jumpers hurt the Hawkeyes to start the season.
If Iowa adds another reliable outside shooter alongside Peter Jok, they’ll have much better spacing and offensive attack, especially once Tyler Cook returns.
As crazy as it might sound, Bohannon needs a green light on offense, which is what he got as a starter. Early in the season, he seemed hesitant to shoot at times, which shooters can’t have. Against Notre Dame, he found a rhythm and finished the game with 18 shot attempts and 15 three-point attempts.
Those might not be the marks he hits every game, however on a team with few offensive weapons, Iowa needs to make a conscious effort to get him involved because he becomes very dangerous quickly.
Besides, it’s not like he’s a selfish player. He leads the team with 4.6 assists per game and has at least six assists in three of the past four games. Turnovers have been a problem at times, but he’s still a young point guard learning his role. Overall, he sets his teammates up well and isn’t a turnover liability.
Christian Williams simply wasn’t getting the job done, so now it’s Jordan Bohannon’s job to lose.
Dom Uhl lost his starting role to redshirt freshman Isaiah Moss. After slowly creeping into the rotation this season, Moss notched his first career start and didn’t look terrible. He scored five points on 2-of-4 shooting and also added five assists and two rebounds.
Barring an injury or poor play by Moss, Dom Uhl has earned his demotion as Iowa’s new sixth or seventh man. He finished second behind Brady Ellingson in minutes played off the bench against Notre Dame with 16, and that could keep falling if his struggles continue.
Moving a player who struggled at the end of last season and start of this season might only hurt his confidence more. Although, it’s the same role he thrived in early last season and the less responsibility and pressure might help him focus on his game instead of trying to do too much.
That being said, Uhl needs to be the leader of Iowa’s bench. The junior forward is one of the older players on the team and a former starter. He could be the boost Iowa’s bench needs after a slow start to the season. However, scoring two points while shooting 0-of-2 from the field won’t work.
Not to mention his usual good rebounding has decreased significantly over the past five games to just one rebound in 16 minutes against Notre Dame. He didn’t need to be a 20-point scorer, rather keep the Irish off the glass. He ranks fourth on the team with five rebounds per game but offered no presence on the glass for Iowa.
It’s been a rough start for Dom Uhl, but moving him back to the bench might help him. He can’t try to do too much, he just needs to regain his three-point shot and crash the boards. If he does that, he’ll be an effective bench player for the Hawkeyes.