Iowa Basketball: Takeaways From Emerald Coast Classic

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Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

A look at what we learned from Iowa’s 0-2 Emerald Coast Classic

After losing to the Virginia Cavaliers by 33 points on Friday night, Iowa basketball had a chance to rebound and take third place in the Emerald Coast Classic. The Memphis Tigers proved to be too much for them, though, and won 100-92.

The Hawkeyes hung tough against Memphis in the first half. The Tigers held a slim 54-51 lead at halftime, however Iowa couldn’t come up with enough defensive stops down the stretch to complete a comeback. That being said, the game never seemed out of reach, rather the Hawkeyes were unable to go on a run.

Despite Iowa finishing last in the Emerald Coast Classic, it was a great learning experience for their young team. It’s evident that Iowa is still trying to find an identity, but playing against good competition like Virginia and Memphis is how teams find one.

It’s still early in the season and Iowa is 3-3, but this is the first legitimate chance we had to look at the new-look Hawkeyes. Therefore, even though it’s not the results everyone was hoping for, we and Iowa learned a lot about them.

It’s only been six games so there is plenty of time for this young team to turn their season around and get on a winning streak.

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Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa’s Youth is Showing

3-3 is not where Iowa wanted to be through six games, but don’t give up on this young team. They haven’t been consistent this season, but it’s expected when a team is trying to replace four senior starters from a year ago. Although, as much as Peter Jok and the rest of Iowa don’t want to use youth as an excuse, it’s a viable one.

Virginia’s experience helped them jump out to 27-11 lead halfway through the first half. It was Iowa’s first ranked opponent of the season and the level of play caught them by surprise. Credit to Virginia, who is a very good team, but Iowa looked outmatched and outsmarted from the get-go.

Against Memphis, the Hawkeyes had chances to string together a couple of runs late in the game. Instead, they allowed Memphis to work the offensive glass, played poor defense down the stretch and looked unfocused at times in the second half.

These concerns aren’t new, however they’re exemplified against good opponents. The Hawkeyes carelessness with the ball led to 18 turnovers and easy baskets down the stretch for Memphis. Iowa never had a chance down the stretch because of Memphis’ second chance and transition points.

Allowing 100 points to Memphis and simply looking disinterested at times is never good to see. Iowa won’t win many games against good teams this season if their defense doesn’t pick up. Their lack of defense isn’t all youth, but it’s evident that the speed of the game gets to Iowa’s younger players at times.

That being said, this season is all a learning process for the Hawkeyes. Teams play early season tournaments to test their team and see how they stack up against other teams.

The Hawkeyes will learn how to play down the stretch and put more focus on defense and rebounding, rather than their offense which has been the strong part of their game.

Iowa will get better as the season goes on, but for now, their youth is costing them down the stretch and forcing Jok to score 42 points just to stay close.

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Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Not Running Offense Through Tyler Cook

Peter Jok is the star of the team and the offense should run through him. That being said, Tyler Cook is easily Iowa’s second best option on offense and is a nightmare to guard in the paint. Even though Iowa is a three-point shooting team, the Hawkeyes need to get Cook involved on almost every offensive possession.

Iowa made a solid 11-of-23 threes against Memphis to keep them in the game, however the Hawkeyes only made 6-of-23 against Virginia. The Cavaliers are one of the best defensive teams in the nation, but Iowa also helped them by forcing threes instead of looking inside for Cook.

Virginia made Cook a point of emphasis and made it difficult for Iowa to get him the ball early, but Iowa completely went away from him later in the game. He attempted just six shots, which is hard for any player to make an impact or find rhythm on offense.

Cook doesn’t need to shoot every time, but it helps open up shooters. Teams know there is a chance they need to send help defense on Cook because of his strength and post moves down low. Therefore, Cook usually has an advantage in one-on-one situations, especially in the paint, or he can dish it out to an open shooter if the defense collapses.

Not to mention Cook is Iowa’s only reliable scorer outside of Jok this season. Iowa struggled and only scored 41 points against Virginia, yet scored 92 against Memphis when Cook scored 17 points. Virginia is obviously the superior defensive team, but the Hawkeyes looked scared to force the ball inside against the Cavaliers.

The Hawkeyes will win games if their bench and role players give them consistent scoring, but they won’t beat good teams if Cook isn’t involved. There is no reason he should take fewer shots than Jordan Bohannon or Dom Uhl in any game.

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Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa’s a Poor Rebounding Team

Rebounding is one of the most important facets of the game. It creates extra opportunities on offense or can ruin chances, as Iowa witnessed against Memphis, when teams don’t keep their opponents off the offensive glass. Simply put, it’s hard to win games when you lose the rebounding battle.

Virginia only out-rebounded Iowa 36-34, but their 48.3 percent shooting proved to be too much for the Hawkeyes. Against Memphis, Iowa grabbed one more rebound than the Tigers, 32-31, however, one rebound doesn’t make a big difference when allowing 13 offensive boards.

Along with their 18 turnovers, Iowa’s lack of rebounding on the defensive glass proved to be deadly. Too many times down the stretch Iowa gave up an easy offensive rebound. Memphis would simply reach over and grab it out of Iowa’s hand, which resulted in second chance points.

In fact, Memphis scored 12 second chance points in the second half, and they only failed to score once off of an offensive rebound in the second half.

It’s easy to point fingers at one player or another, but the Hawkeyes as a team need to make a conscious effort to be better on the glass. The Hawkeyes are a smaller team, however Tyler Cook and Dom Uhl should still eat up defensive rebounds.

Iowa’s poor rebounding isn’t all size, though. A lot of it is Iowa getting out-hustled for the board. In that case, Iowa is already quickly learning that 50-50 balls and hustle plays can make the difference in close games.

Iowa hasn’t been terrible on the glass this season, but they fail to grab meaningful rebounds and 50-50 balls. If they can crash the boards harder and keep teams off the offensive glass, they’ll have a huge advantage, especially when considering their lack of height.

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