Iowa Hawkeye Preview
Date: Thursday, January 5th - 8:00pm - Pinnacle Bank Arena - Lincoln, NE
2015-16 Record: 22-11 (12-6 Big Ten)
2016-17 Record: 9-6 (1-1 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Fran McCaffery (7th year)
The Hawkeyes are coming off a huge season last year. They finished the year with a top 25 finish, tied for third in the conference, and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they were defeated by eventual National Champion Villanova.
Last years team was a very senior heavy squad. Guys that made huge impacts on the court are now gone. Jarrod Uthoff, Anthony Clemmons, and Nebraskan Mike Gesell have all departed and are now replaced by a younger and slightly less experienced squad.
The last few years have been good to McCaffery and the Hawkeyes. They have been contenders in the conference. With that in mind, this year has been a bit of change. They are a talented but young team with four freshman starting. As Nebraska fans know, that can be a hard pill to swallow when you’re looking for change.
They are a team that is heavily dependent on the offensive side of the ball. Their defense is what has gotten them into trouble for most of the season. It hasn’t been hard for decent teams to score well against them. However, they seem to have cleaned some of that up the last few games. Their last win in overtime against a then 11-3 Michigan team was a huge step for the squad.
This season started out fairly well. Winning games against your usual no name opponents. Then came a four game losing streak that started with #17 Virginia and ended with the UNO Mavericks. Yep, Omaha’s third favorite team beat the Hawkeyes. That loss seems to still sting among the fan base. Since then they have picked it up a bit and have gone 6-1 with their lone loss to #15 Purdue.
Leading the team is senior Peter Jok. Jok has been a major player for the Hawkeyes for quite some time and is their main scorer on the court. He is currently averaging 22.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, and 2.3 apg. He will be the main target on the team and Nebraska will have to keep a constant eye on him throughout the night.
Tyler Cook is a freshman forward who has only played 8 games but is averaging 13.1 ppg and 5.3 rpg. His game is raw but is improving as time goes on. Keep this name in the back of your head as you will probably be hearing it a lot in the future.
Cordell Pemsl is another freshman who has done well for the Hawkeyes. While his defense needs some work his shooting definitely doesn’t, hitting 67% from the floor. He is averaging 9.8 ppg and 5.3 rpg.
Due to the lack of experience on this year’s team, expect the Hawkeyes to utilize their bench quite a bit.
Like I stated this is a young Hawkeye team. Something we are not use to seeing from Iowa City. This should bode well for the Huskers. If Nebraska can get out early and play aggressive like they have been then they should win this game. The Hawkeyes’ lack of defense will give the Huskers ample time to get out of the scoring droughts we are so use to seeing. Nebraska’s defense is good enough to keep he Hawkeyes from scoring too much. In the end, it will most likely depend on who has the better defense to win this game.