Around the Big Ten ‘09: Iowa

Dylan Burkhardt

Previously: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

And we made it. All 10 Big Ten teams besides Michigan previewed before we even get to exhibition games. Scott Miller, of the Daily Iowan, graciously agreed to take time away from an exciting football season to talk Hawkeye hoops. Now that we are done with the rest of the conference, I want to take the time to thank all the writers who contributed. I’ll put together a summary post reviewing all the previews (and their wonderful optimism) later this wekk.

By my eyes, Iowa looks like they are headed to a dreadful season. Are there any reasons for optimism?

Not too many by my estimation. Head coach Todd Lickliter seems to like his returning nucleus of Matt Gatens, Jarryd Cole, Anthony Tucker, Devan Bawinkel, and Aaron Fuller, but beyond that, the team lacks a lot of depth. When you lose your leading scorer, assist man, and rebounder to either transfer or graduation, it’s never a good sign for the next year.

Jake Kelly is one of the many players who left the Iowa program this off-season

Can you go over the transfers and graduations from last year’s team?

It was confusing for me, too. Jake Kelly (leading scorer), Jeff Peterson (leading assist man), Jermain Davis, and David Palmer all transferred from the program a few weeks after the team’s embarrassing performance in the Big Ten Tournament. Cyrus Tate (leading rebounder) graduated, along with J.R. Angle, who was a non-factor during his career in Iowa City.

How about incoming freshmen?

The transfers forced Lickliter to pick up a few last-minute prospects in the recruiting process. Point guard Cully Payne committed to the Hawkeyes in early April, giving the team a viable replacement for Peterson, who transferred to Arkansas. In-state prospects Eric May and Brennan Cougill give the Hawkeyes another perimeter threat (May) and a much-needed big on the inside (Cougill). The last signing was from Devon Archie, a 6-9 junior-college prospect who could see minutes early in the rotation up front.

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Anthony Tucker

Anthony Tucker’s freshmen  year wasn’t very smooth, but he definitely demonstrated his talent. What kind of role is he expected to play this year?

All indications are that the coaches are planning on Tucker having a big impact this year. Last season, he displayed his 3-point shooting, but faltered off the court with academics and some disciplinary issues. If the Hawkeyes have any chance of getting out of the Big Ten’s basement, they need a big year from Tucker. His versatility on the perimeter (he can play point and shooting guard) gives Lickliter a lot of flexibility in his lineups.

Matt Gatens

Is Matt Gatens the best shooter in the Big Ten?

I think he his, but then again, I thought he was the best freshman in the Big Ten last year. He’s almost automatic from the free throw line, and if he gets an open look, it’s as good as in. I would love to see what he could do with some true talent around him, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen — at least this year.

Starting lineup?

If I had to guess: PG Tucker, SG Gatens, SF Fuller, PF Cole, C Cougill, with Bawinkel, May, and Payne being the first three off the bench. The Hawkeyes’ biggest problem right now is inside. They simply don’t have the size to compete with the Michigan State’s of the world. But Lickliter’s system is predicated on outside shooting, and he looks to have that area covered with Gatens, Tucker, May, and Bawinkel.

aaron-fullerAaron Fuller, a former Michigan recruit, will look to take on an bigger role this year

Besides Tucker and Gatens, who else is waiting in the wings to become a major contributor?

Fuller supposedly had a really good summer, adding a lot of bulk to his frame. I would look for him to breakout this year, if he was able to improve his outside shot. Defensively, he shouldn’t get pushed around as much as he did last year.

Any non-conference games or tournaments of note?

They play Texas in the CBE Classic in Kansas City, which has the makings of a 30-point game. What I find interesting is that three of their marquee home games — Purdue (Dec. 29), Minnesota (Jan. 2), and Michigan State (Jan. 9) — are all over winter break, when many students will be back home. That’s not very smart for a program with fledgling student support after back-to-back lackluster years.

Most feared player in the Big Ten?

I would have to say Manny Harris. I know he didn’t play great against Iowa in the regular season, but his performance against the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten tournament was spectacular. At 6-5, he’s a real matchup problem. The Gatens-Harris matchup will be something to watch in the year’s contest.

Predicted record (conference and overall)

I’ll say 13-18 (5-13). They could lose all three in-state rival games (at Iowa State, at Northern Iowa, and home against Drake), and the conference slate isn’t looking favorable, either.

Any last words?

It’s going to be a long season in Iowa City, but as long as the football team keeps winning, the basketball team’s struggles will continued to get buried.

  • Alexander

    Really don’t see 5 conference wins on their schedule.

  • Me neither Alexander.

  • Giddings

    Iowa City is not the easiest place to play. With streaky shooters like Bawinkel and Gatens they are bound to have some hot nights at Carver Hawkeye… maybe not 5 but I could see 3 or 4.

  • Yeah.. Assembly Hall is a tough place to play, it got IU one conference win last year.

    A couple tweets from Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman who was at Michigan practice today…
    Just left Ann Arbor – key will be freshman point guard Darius Morris – talented, can run a team; doesnt need to shoot it

    John Beilein has three terrific shooters in Novak, Douglass and freshman Matt Vogrich – Manny Harris is better from deep than people think

  • Big Weekend!

    I am pumped for this weekend! We need to make sure that our Maize Rage and co. make Trey and Evan feel very welcome at the football game this weekend. I saw clips of WVU’s Midnight Madness and they had their big recruit on campus. Signs and chants were going like crazy to make the recruits feel wanted. I sure hope that our students know of the importance of Trey on campus this weekend! When coach is driving him around State street before the game, I hope that our students know to yell, chant, and make his experience great! Go Blue!

  • I figured Evan was as good as locked up. Are we worried about him at all? Or is it just good to have a good showing while he is in town?

  • maxwell’s demon

    Thanks for assembling all of this Dylan. Are you giving an in conference prediction for Michigan?

    Would like to point out that by totaling all the predictions from our other 10 schools, Michigan will have to win -2 games in order for them to come true. In other words: somebody’s gonna be disappointed.

    I think the Northwestern 9-9 prediction is definitely overly optimistic, but I also look towards Wisconsin as maybe not living up to their predicted 10-8. Also not sold on Iowa winning more than a game or 2.

  • Dave

    glad to see that twitter about dmo……very much excited to see what he and llp have to offer this squad this year………trey knows how much he is needed here we have been talkng about him for 1 year plus now on an almost daily basis………..every little bit helps though