Forget the opponent. Okay just try not to dwell on them too much. Thursday night the Iowa basketball team just may have put together its most impressive all-around performance of the Fran McCaffery era.
In what was a complete mismatch on paper, the Hawkeyes did exactly what they were supposed to do by blowing out Maryland-Eastern Shore 109-63. However, it was the way they did it that fans should take away from this game.
All of the best qualities possessed by this Iowa squad were put on display in full force. Depth and versatility paired with the up-tempo style coach McCaffery desires made for a game that quickly got out of hand in Carver Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes shot 51.5 percent as a team from the field, 41.7 percent from three, and continued a growing trend by getting to the free throw line for an absurd 43 attempts. To emphasize Iowa’s depth and just how effective it was tonight, all 14 Hawkeyes scored (7 in double figures), 6 had at least five rebounds, and another 6 accumulated two or more assists. Only one player saw more than 20 minutes of floor time, and that was freshman Peter Jok off the bench with just 24.
In searching for an MVP of tonight’s game choosing just one seems nearly impossible, so I won’t. Instead I’ll mention five.
Junior Aaron White put together his third consecutive impressive performance to start the season. The 6-9 forward scored 22 points on 9-10 shooting from the field in a ridiculous 17 minutes. White constantly beat the opposition down the floor, and was the recipient of the play of the night, an off-the-backboard ally-oop from Devyn Marble.
Next up, Hawkeye fans will be more than happy to say that they got their first glimpse of the 2013-14 season at the real Mike Gesell. The sophomore guard who had struggled with his confidence as of late, calmly knocked down two three pointers and drove coast to coast for another layup within the game’s opening minutes. He also distributed seven assists on the night in another example of uber-efficient play in 17 minutes of action.
Following White and Gesell is a third starter in Melsahn Basabe. While a stat line of 12 points and 7 rebounds may not seem all that impressive, Basabe was a constant source of energy on both ends of the floor. He was extremely aggressive in attacking the basket, accumulating 12 attempts from the free throw line.
Coming off the bench Jarrod Uthoff continued to showcase his all-around ability, posting his first career double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds) in just the third game of his college career. Meanwhile fellow reserve Gabe Olaseni was his usual floor running and shot blocking self. But the biggest source of confidence should come from his obvious development on the offensive end and the conscious effort he made to be aggressive around the hoop.
Any negative takeaways from this game would have to center around Iowa’s inability to keep its opponent off the glass. The Hawkeyes gave up 16 offensive rebounds to a much smaller team, something that will need to be corrected before Iowa gets into the meat of its non-conference schedule.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the continued struggles of sophomore center Adam Woodbury at finishing around the basket. Woodbury needs to work on keeping the ball high to avoid being stripped by smaller players, and also to finish with strength at the rim.
All things considered, this win should be recognized as a point of progress for the Iowa program as a whole. When a complete annihilation of an inferior opponent has become the expectation, fans can know that their team is definitely progressing in its rise back to prominence.
Also, any game in which a team hits the century mark in scoring and can remove all of its major contributors with eight minutes left certainly makes life a little bit easier on the coaching staff.