Iowa‘s Jarrod Uthoff with the layup against Tennessee in first half action of First Four games of the NCAA Basketball Championship at UD Arena on March 19, 2014. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.
Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.
I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.
NOTE TO READERS: I want to salute the fans at some point in this series. Here’s my idea: Email me a photo of your favorite piece of UD memorabilia (firstname.lastname@example.org). It could be a ticket stub, a T-shirt, a poster, a newspaper page, a photo of you at a game, etc. And write a paragraph or two or more about the story behind it: where you got it, what it means to you, why it’s special, etc. Also tell me how long you’ve been a fan, how and why you started rooting for the Flyers. I will include the story and the text in a blog entry. The best photo and entry wins an 8×10 print of Vee Sanford’s shot against OSU or Jordan Sibert’s shot against Boise. Your choice.
No. 39: The Iowa game
I’m not to the point in this list where I’m listing games like Southeast Missouri, William & Mary and North Florida, but we’re getting there. Fifty three is a big number.
I suppose I could list all the little things I’m looking forward to: the walk down the tunnel from the media room to the court; chatting with the longtime security guards who always man the same spots along the way; picking from the best pop selection in Division I basketball in the media room (the true secret behind UD’ success); etc. One thing I never get to do because I’m always working at halftime is watching the halftime entertainment. Otherwise, frisbee dogs would make the list.
In a continuing look at some of the opponents UD will see this season, let’s examine Iowa, the first-round opponent in Orlando on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26.
Last year: 22-12, 12-6 Big Ten, 60 RPI; beat Davidson in NCAA tournament and lost to Gonzaga.
Coach: Fran McCaffery, sixth season.
Series history: Iowa leads 2-0. Iowa won 61-54 in 1979 at UD Arena and 84-75 in the 2012 NIT at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That NIT game was the last game of Archie Miller’s first season.
Summary: Since four straight losing seasons from 2007-08 to 2010-11, Iowa has rebounded with win totals of 18, 25, 20 and 22. It last reached the Sweet 16 since 1999, the last of 13 seasons for coach Tom Davis. It has not won a Big Ten regular-season title since 1979. It won the Big Ten tournament in 2001 and 2006 under Steve Alford.
This year’s team: The Hawkeyes return four starters: forward Jarrod Uthoff (12.4 points per game); point guard Mike Gesell (7.4), shooting guard Peter Jok (7.0); and 7-1 center Adam Woodbury (6.6). They lost their leading scorer, forward Aaron White (16.4), and third-leading scorer, Gabriel Olaseni (8.1). White led the team in scoring four years in a row.
Iowa has five freshmen on the roster and two redshirt freshmen. It also has junior forward Dale Jones, a junior college transfer.
One of the freshmen is Wayne grad Ahmad Wagner, a 6-7 forward who was a teammate of Dayton freshman Xeyrius Williams a season ago. Wagner’s bio on Iowa’s website lists his AAU coach as Logan Brogden. That’s Jordan Sibert’s brother. He’s an assistant coach at Tiffin University.
Here’s a good summary of Iowa heading into the season from TheGazette.com:
“It’s going to be interesting to see how everything unfolds because we’ve got a lot of different kinds of pieces,” McCaffery said. “Obviously we’re going to be a little bit different, we’re not going to be as big. It puts more pressure on Woodbury and Uthoff, in particular. But others are going to have to step up. We’ve got a lot of options, but I think we have more versatility. We’ve got a lot of different guys who can make 3s. That’s going to be important, too. If you’re not as big, you’ve got to make 3s. Then you’ve got to take care of the ball.”
Another preseason story on the Hawkeyes from BTPowerhouse.com sees them as a likely top-30 team:
If Iowa wants to stay among the top of the Big Ten they’re going to need to have a consistently big effort from their seniors Adam Woodbury and Jarrod Uthoff. But the bus doesn’t stop there. From among the young but talented roster depth, another player or two is going to have to provide some offensive relief. It’s fair to say by now that we know what we are going to get on the defensive end from a McCaffery coached team. Long, athletic, scrappy and more than likely a Top-30 unit as a whole. That’s a constant at this point. But offensively, consistency is key and will be the deciding factor on if Iowa can be a sleeping conference contender or just another middle-tiered team.