After watching last year’s edition of the Gopher basketball team, I know the despair and frustration of watching a helpless basketball team led by a hopeless coach. I know how heartbroken Jay Gatsby felt when thought he had rejected by Daisy. I know the excruciating pain Opheila experienced when Hamlet stabbed Polonius, and I understand the heart-wrenching anguish of King Lear when he was betrayed by his sons. One would think that this intimate understanding with disappoint would lead me to at least be slightly empathetic to the plight of Iowa Hawkeyes fans this year. Well, one would be wrong. Who hates Iowa?
What we know:
The days of Jess Settles, Chris Kingsbury, and Dr. Tom Davis’s famous airball jump pass are long gone, and won’t be back any time soon. New coach Todd Lickliter was able to turn Butler into a sort of mid-western Gonzaga, but Iowa City isn’t a basketball hot-bed like Indianapolis, and Lickliter probably wasn’t expecting this when he signed on to coach an above .500 in conference play team.
Like Michigan, many of Iowa’s struggles have been due to departures. Steve Alford decided that Iowa City wasn’t nearly desolate enough, and headed southwest to New Mexico, and leading scorers and rebounders Adam Haluska and Tyler Smith ran out of eligibility. The cupboard wasn’t left completely bare, but Iowa’s four projected senior starts haven’t been able to contribute because of injuries or that they were never any good to begin with.
Iowa doesn’t have Michigan’s excuse of an overly ambitious non-conference schedule. Even when Tony Freeman’s injury is taken into account, they shouldn’t be this bad. In half their games, the Hawkeyes have failed to score 60+ points, including in bad losses at home against Iowa State and Louisiana Monroe.
Who to watch:
- Justin Johnson is one Iowa senior who has stepped it up, raising his scoring average by 10 while regularly jacking up more than 10 three pointers a game (and missing at least 9 three times. Maybe the days of Chris Kingsbury aren’t completely over?
- Jeff Peterson has the job of filling Tony Freeman’s shoes until he is healthy. He won’t be able to play like a freshman if Iowa hopes to turn this lost season around.
How they’ll do:
Wins: Penn State, Michigan, Northwestern
Losses: Indiana, at Wisconsin, at Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue, at Michigan, at Indiana, at Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin, at Michigan State, at Penn State, Illinois, at Northwestern
Record: 3-15 (10-21 assuming they beat SE Louisiana on December 29
What we don’t know:
Will a healthy Tony Freeman be enough to at least make Iowa look like a team with four senior starters?