Well, I like to think of this year’s Iowa team as the college version of Kobe Bryant‘s last season in the NBA. A supremely talented shooter playing with a talented group of young guys, hoarding field goal attempts en route to a high scoring average.
Let’s be honest. Just like in Kobe’s last season, the 2016-17 Iowa basketball team was expected to have a down year. There was no realistic hope of an NCAA Tournament appearance, just like there was no chance at the 2015-16 Los Angeles Lakers making the playoffs.
The situation put head coach Fran McCaffery in a tough spot. In college basketball, its uncommon to bench your superstar just to get young guys minutes. Leaving Iowa smack dab in the middle of contending and rebuilding.
Don’t get me wrong, Peter Jok is a great scorer, but he was holding the rest of the team back with his 15.9 shots per game.
Throughout the year, the Hawkeye rotation has consisted of four freshman, four sophomores, one junior and one senior (Peter Jok).
When it came out that Jok would be sidelined with a back injury, it opened up the offense for Iowa’s young team.
In the two games sans Jok, the youngsters averaged 84 points per game, while allowing only 67.5 points per game on defense. What’s most impressive about Iowa’s play, is that they have won with a balanced attack.
The Hawkeyes have played unselfish, allowing them to get great shots instead of isolation shots for Jok.
Leading the way for Iowa in Jok’s absence has been freshman Jordan Bohannon. In their two wins, Bohannon has made nine three-pointers while averaging 14.5 points per game. As the starting point guard, Bohannon is leading the Hawkeyes in assists with 4.7 per game.
He has been an excellent facilitator throughout the year and looks to be a guy Fran McCaffery can build around.
In addition, freshman big men Cordell Pemsl and Tyler Cook have averaged double-figures in Iowa’s back-to-back wins. In 23 games, Pemsl has shown to be very efficient in the paint. He currently leads the entire Big Ten in field goal percentage, shooting 63.2 percent.
Going forward, the Hawkeyes can expect to earn an NIT berth when the season ends. However, if this talented freshman class sticks around, they will be regulars in the NCAA Tournament for years to come.