IOWA CITY — Iowa’s men’s basketball schedule could have the team headed in a favorable direction next season.
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery shakes hands with Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan before the start of their Big Ten Conference College Basketball Game Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/ SourceMedia Group News)
The Hawkeyes played a grueling schedule last year that included 12 postseason teams and eight ranked opponents. The Hawkeyes finished 11-20, the second-most losses in school history, but seven losses were by five points or less.
Of the 24 opponents Iowa is slated to play this year, the Hawkeyes compete against 12 postseason teams from last year, including eight NCAA Tournament teams. But seven of those teams lost their leading scorer from last year. The only team that didn’t — Ohio State — lost the Big Ten career in 3-pointers (Jon Diebler) and the school record holder in wins (David Lighty).
Iowa, however, returns 87.1 percent of its scoring from last year and its top three scorers from a year ago. The Hawkeyes play 13 non-conference teams that compiled a 192-225 record. In Big Ten play, Iowa plays four NCAA Tournament teams just once. In fact, the combined Big Ten record of Iowa’s 18 opponents (counting the double plays twice and incoming Big Ten team Nebraska) was 161-159 last year and 370-232 overall.
The Hawkeyes lose just center Jarryd Cole from last year’s team and pick up a play-making combo guard in Anthony Hubbard, a long-range shooter in Josh Oglesby, a versatile front-court player in Aaron White and an athletic post in Gabe Olaseni. If those players can adequately fill Cole’s absence and the returnees make similar strides as last year, it possible Iowa could post the league’s top turnaround.
Here’s a complete look at each of Iowa’s opponents for the 2011-12 season:
BIG TEN DOUBLE-PLAYS
WISCONSIN (25-9, 13-5)
NORTHWESTERN (20-14, 7-11)
PURDUE (26-8, 14-4)
INDIANA (12-20, 3-15)
NEBRASKA (19-13, 7-9 Big 12)
PENN STATE (19-15, 9-9)
MINNESOTA (17-14, 6-12)
BIG TEN SINGLE PLAYS
ILLINOIS (20-14, 9-9)
Iowa's Matt Gatens (5) and Devyn Marble (4) put pressure on Illinois D.J. Richardson (1) during the second half of their Big Ten Conference college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/ SourceMedia Group News)
– Champaign, Ill.
- Recent Action vs. Iowa – The Fighting Illini have beaten Iowa 21 of the last 22 games at Assembly Hall with the Hawkeyes’ only win coming in 1999 against a last-place Illinois team. The Illini’s overall streak of five straight wins ties an all-time series mark against Iowa.
- Who’s Back? – Illinois will look completely different from last year. Only one regular starter, guard D. J. Richardson (8.4 ppg) returns, as does part-time starter Brandon Paul. Paul (9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.1 apg) likely will transition into the Illini’s top offensive threat this year and may thrive in the scoring role previously held by Demetri McCamey. Sophomore center Meyers Leonard started one game and averaged just over 8 minutes a game but should become a starter.
- Who’s Gone? – The Fighting Illini lose McCamey, the all-everything guard who also was benched after run-ins with Coach Bruce Weber. McCamey averaged 14.6 points and 6.1 assists a game last year. Top inside trio of Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale and Bill Cole also leave. Combined, the Illini lose 122 starts among those four. Talented freshman Jereme Richmond, who started six games but was suspended from the NCAA Tournament for violating team rules, left for the NBA.
- Who’s New? — Illinois landed a massive class of six incoming freshmen, including top Chicago recruits (all ranked as Rivals 4-stars) Mike Shaw, Mycheal Henry, Nnanna Eqwu and Tracy Abrams. Illinois also pulled in 3-star players Ibrahima Djimde and Devin Langford.
- Relating to Iowa – The Fighting Illini recently have posed an athletic mismatch for the Hawkeyes. Iowa has won at Assembly Hall only once since 1987 but with the Champaign personnel turnover, it’s possible to at least hang at Illinois this year unlike most seasons.
- Outlook? — Unpredictable. Neither Paul, Richardson nor Leonard had a primary role last year and with a talented — yet inexperienced — class coming in, it’s difficult to know how the Illini will mesh on or off the court. Last year was a major disappointment for perhaps the Big Ten’s most athletic team so if the chemistry improves, so could the overall record.
MICHIGAN STATE (19-15, 9-9)
Iowa's Devon Archie blocks a shot by Kalin Lucas of Michigan State during the firts half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Wednesday on February 2, 2011. (Cliff Jette/Sourcemedia Group)
– East Lansing, Mich.
- Recent Action vs. Iowa – Michigan State has beaten Iowa 16 straight times in East Lansing, dating to 1993. Of the last 12 meetings in East Lansing, only two were decided by single digits. Last year the teams split their regular-season meetings with Iowa winning 72-52 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and the Spartans winning 85-66 at Breslin Center. Michigan State won the Big Ten Tournament opener 66-61.
- Who’s Back? – Second-leading scorer Draymond Green scored 12.6 points and grabbed 8.6 rebounds a game last year. He’s a senior this year. Sophomore Keith Appling (6.4 ppg) started 18 games while part-time starters Delvon Roe and Garrick Sherman also return. Post players Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne should see increases in playing time.
- Who’s Gone? – Leading scorer and four-year starter Kalin Lucas exits after averaging 17 points a game. He started all 34 games after tearing his Achilles tendon in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Long-time starting wing/forward Durrell Summers also leaves, while talented backup point guard Korie Lucious transferred to Iowa State.
- Who’s New? – Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo took one of the nation’s top prospects in 6-6 forward Branden Dawson, a 5-star recruit from Gary, Ind. The Spartans also signed 4-star guard Dwaun Anderson and 3-star guard Travis Trice and forward Brandan Kearney.
- Relating to Iowa – Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery earned his first major win as the Hawkeyes’ coach in the 20-point stomping against the Spartans. Michigan State’s players later called it “an embarrassment” and pounded Iowa in East Lansing. Iowa had its chance to beat Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament and led by seven points midway through the second half before losing.
- Outlook? — Michigan State was the nation’s most underachieving team last year after starting with a No. 2 ranking in many polls. The team lacked chemistry, leadership and toughness, a trait usually associated with an Izzo-coached team. Now, with an influx of new talent, the team’s mental approach likely will change and send the Spartans back among the Big Ten’s elite.
MICHIGAN (21-14, 9-9)
Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) puts up a shot over Iowa's Devyn Marble (4) during overtime of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. Michigan won the game in overtime by a score of 75-72. (Brian Ray/SourceMedia Group News)
– Carver-Hawkeye Arena
- Recent Action vs. Iowa – The teams have played to overtime in Iowa City for three consecutive seasons, with Michigan winning the last two. Michigan has won six straight overall in the series.
- Who’s Back? – Michigan had no seniors last season. Sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. was a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and averaged 13.9 points a game. He scored double digits in the Wolverines’ final 16 games, including 30 at Iowa. Sophomore post Jordan Morgan averaged 9.2 points and senior combo guard Zack Novak led the team in rebounding and averaged 8.9 points. Outside shooter Stu Douglass and power forward Evan Smotrycz also come back.
- Who’s Gone? — Darius Morris, one of the league’s up-and-coming stars, bolted for the NBA following his sophomore season. Morris averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds and nearly 7 assists a game. His departure was a surprise to the Wolverines, who were considered among the top Big Ten teams returning this year.
- Who’s New? — Carlton Brundidge, a 4-star guard from Southfield, Mich., could fill Morris’ spot as an all-everything shooting guard. Michigan also signed 3-star recruits Max Bielfeldt (forward) and guard Trey Burke.
- Relating to Iowa — From 2008-2010, the schools played nine times, including three straight seasons to open Big Ten Tournament play. Had Michigan lost to archrival Michigan State in the regular-season finale, the teams would have played again in the Big Ten Tournament.
- Outlook? — The Wolverines came out of nowhere to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament last year, rolling Tennessee in the first round and nearly upsetting top-seed Duke in the second round. Had Morris stayed, Michigan would have threatened Ohio State and Michigan State for Big Ten supremacy this year. It still might, depending on whether Brundidge can replace Morris. Hardaway Jr. could be the league’s best scoring threat this year and if Morgan improves, Michigan will be dangerous.
OHIO STATE (34-3, 16-2)
Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, left, shoots over Iowa forward Andrew Brommer during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
– Carver-Hawkeye Arena
- Recent Action vs. Iowa – The Buckeyes have won a series-record six straight against the Hawkeyes. Three of those wins came in Iowa City but all were tight games until Ohio State pulled away late.
- Who’s Back?– Consensus All-American sophomore forward Jared Sullinger returns, which surprised most people who expected him to turn pro. Sullinger, who was the national freshman of the year, had 18 double-doubles last year and averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds a game. Aaron Craft started only once but was a key player as the team’s primary point guard. He had nearly 7 points and 5 assists a game and led the Big Ten in steals. Slashing senior scoring guard William Buford and sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas also return.
- Who’s Gone? — The Buckeyes lost excellent senior role players from last year’s squad. Guard David Lighty was a multi-faceted scoring threat, tough defender and the winningest player in Buckeye history (129 wins). Shooting guard Jon Diebler put up the most 3-pointers (374) in Big Ten history. Center Dallas Lauderdale was one of the most feared post defenders in college basketball.
- Who’s New?– Ohio State’s recruiting class should soften the Buckeyes’ losses, although maybe not immediately. Ohio State signed four 4-star recruits in center Amir Williams, forwards Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross and point guard Shannon Scott. Forward Trey McDonald was a 3-star recruit. Ross, however, is ineligible to play this year, a big loss for the Buckeyes.
- Relating to Iowa? – Iowa scrapped against then No. 2-ranked Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in a five-point loss last year. Iowa freshman Melsahn Basabe (22 points, 13 rebounds) battled Sullinger (24 points, 12 rebounds) to a draw that game.
- Outlook? – The Buckeyes once again look like the class of the Big Ten, although the senior losses will hurt a bit. Sullinger might be the nation’s best player while Thomas likely will step up from reserve to key contributor. Craft was one of the league’s top point guards and Buford is among the most versatile. If the Buckeyes receive valuable production from their freshmen, watch out.
NON-CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN (with dates)
Nov. 11 vs. Chicago State (H)
- Chicago State was 6-26 last year and lost its best player in Carl Montgomery, who averaged 17.3 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. This is the first game of the Dale Howard Classic, a four-game exempt series honoring Iowa’s long-time booster. It’s also held the night before Iowa’s home football finale, so Hawkeyeland hopes the football crowd checks out Iowa’s basketball season opener. Iowa is 3-0 historically against Chicago State with the last meeting in 1997. Iowa has lost its last two season openers.
Nov. 14 vs. North Carolina A&T (H)
- This is the second game in the Dale Howard Classic and features a team Iowa never has played. North Carolina A&T was 15-17 last year and lost its leading scorer in Thomas Coleman, who averaged 17 points a game.
Nov. 17 vs. Northern Illinois (H)
- This regular-season game pits Iowa against a school without its top scorer from last year in Xavier Silas, who put up 22 points a night. Northern Illinois has a new coach and has never beaten Iowa in five tries. The Huskies were 9-21 last year.
Nov. 20 vs. Creighton (Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines)
Creighton forward Doug McDermott (3) drives past Iowa State forward Calvin Godfrey during the second half Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa State won 91-88. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
On paper this is Iowa’s first serious test, and it’s held at a neutral site. The Blue Jays were 23-16 and advanced to the CBI Tournament finals last year. Creighton boasts power forward Doug McDermott, the Missouri Valley Conference freshman of the year. McDermott —like Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe —was invited to try out for the U.S. 19-and-under team. McDermott was one of three freshmen since 2003 — Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony were the other two — with at least 525 points, 270 rebounds and 40 3-pointers in a season.
- Iowa is 14-10 historically against Creighton, and this game also is part of the Dale Howard Classic. Nebraska originally was slated as the opponent for this game (with a proposed 2012 return trip to Omaha) but Creighton filled in when the Cornhuskers jumped to the Big Ten. Blue Jays Coach Greg McDermott formerly led Northern Iowa and Iowa State. The teams’ last meeting was March 15, 2001 in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa won that game 69-56, its last NCAA Tournament win.
Nov. 23 vs. Campbell (H)
- In the Dale Howard Classic finale, Iowa faces a team it never has played. The Camels were 12-19 last year and their most impressive win was a 61-54 upset of Auburn. Campbell returns leading scorer Eric Griffin.
Nov. 26 vs. IPFW (H)
- The Mastadons posted a winning record last year at 18-12 and were competitive in the Summit League. Iowa and IPFW played four common opponents, and the results were comparable. Both teams lost to South Dakota State (IPFW lost three times) and Xavier and pounded SIU-Edwardsville. IPFW also lost to Purdue, while Iowa split with the Boilermakers. Tony Jasick is the team’s new head coach, replacing former Indiana alum Dane Fife, who now is an assistant at Michigan State. The teams never have played.
Nov. 29 vs. Clemson (H)
- Iowa’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge opponent is the Hawkeyes’ only non-conference opponent to advance to the NCAA Tournament last year. Clemson Coach Brad Brownell was interviewed by Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta and Associate Athletics Director Fred Mims during the team’s coaching search in 2010. The Tigers (22-12 last year) lost their top three scorers and incoming freshman Devin Coleman was recruited heavily by Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery last summer. The Hawkeyes have dropped their last five in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, although two of the last three were decided in the final second. Iowa is 2-0 against Clemson.
Dec. 3 vs. Brown (H)
- The Bears finished 11-17 overall and 4-10 in Ivy League play last year. Sophomore guard Sean McGonagill was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year last year. Iowa owns a 1-0 series advantage.
Dec. 6 at Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls)
- Northern Iowa generally poses a threat to Iowa in Cedar Falls, where the Panthers have won four of the last five in the series. UNI blasted Iowa 67-50 two years ago, but the Hawkeyes countered last year in Iowa City with a 51-39 win. The Panthers, which advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament quarterfinals, finished with their third straight 20-win season last year. UNI does lose big-game guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe and tough post player Lucas O’Rear. Some of the better UNI players to return are Jake Koch, Johnny Moran and Antonio James. Iowa is 33-8 historically against UNI.
Dec. 9 at Iowa State (Ames)
Iowa's Melsahn Basabe (1) blocks a shot by Iowa State's Diante Garrett (10) during the first half Friday, Dec. 10, 2010 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/SourceMedia Group News)
The premium in-state game is held at Hilton Coliseum next year. Iowa State will look completely different with transfers Chris Allen (Michigan State), Chris Babb (Penn State) and Royce White (Minnesota) combining with shooter Scott Christopherson. Iowa historically struggles in Ames, losing four straight at Hilton. The Cyclones ended their own three-game losing streak at Carver-Hawkeye Arena last year in an electric 76-73 game. This likely will be the Hawkeyes’ toughest non-conference game. Iowa leads the series 42-22.
Dec. 17 vs. Drake (H)
- Drake has slid since its historic 2007-08 NCAA Tournament season and finished 13-18 last year. Iowa has won two straight in the series, including 59-52 last year, after dropping three straight. The Bulldogs return talented sophomore Rayvonte Rice, who scored 13.8 points a game last year. Iowa owns a 55-10 series advantage.
Dec. 19 vs. Central Arkansas (H)
- Central Arkansas has yet to post a winning record since moving to Division I in 2006 and was 5-24 last year. Former Arkansas All-American and NBA 12-year veteran Corliss Williamson is in his second year as coach. The teams never have played.
Dec. 22 vs. Boise State (H)
- The Hawkeyes wrap up non-conference play against Boise State, which finished second in the Western Athletic Conference last year. Boise State was 22-13 and competed in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Broncos lose leading scorer La’Shard Anderson, who averaged 15.1 points, and leading rebounder Daequon Montreal.