1. Will freshman center Adam Woodbury live up to fan expectations?
A: Probably not right away, at least statistically. Woodbury is a fabulous talent at 7-foot-1. He can run the floor, defend, pass and score inside. What he’ll provide most fans won’t see in a box score. Opponents won’t attack the rim if Woodbury’s in the lane. On offense, Woodbury will allow Iowa to space the floor because opponents will have to account for him on every possession.
What Coach Fran McCaffery says: “He’s a guy that runs the floor, really defends, rebounds, and he’s going to have some scoring nights where he’s really good and some where he’s not as evolved. But you can still run your offense through him because of his ability to pass and catch, and he’s very comfortable in that role.”
2. Can junior guard Devyn Marble earn an all-Big Ten recognition?
A: Without a doubt. Marble is 6-foot-7, can handle the ball, drive, shoot and distribute. He also will score and all-Big Ten voters like statistics when comparing players.
What Fran says: “We’re going to go to him. He’s going to have the green light. A lot of nights he’s going to take more shots than anybody else, and he’s going to make them.”
3. Will Iowa replace Matt Gatens’ scoring with one person or by committee?
A: Gatens was terrific outside shooter, especially late last year. Iowa’s perimeter shots will fall primarily to Marble, sophomore Josh Oglesby and forward Zach McCabe.
What Fran says: “Anytime you have a guy that made them when he did, that’s two different things: making a 3 and making a 3 when they’re in your face and it’s 67-66 and there’s 1:10 to go. He drilled them in those situations. Somebody’s got to be that guy. I got plenty of guys that can make 3s.”
4. Can Iowa win with freshman point guards?
A: That’s the unknown variable. Mike Gesell is talented, intelligent, athletic and a likely four-year starter. He’s also a freshman in the country’s best basketball league. Likewise, Anthony Clemmons is a tough, hard-nosed, quick defender and a good distributor but he’s also inexperienced. We might not know this answer until mid-February.
What Fran says: “If they play like freshmen, then we won’t be as effective … I think those kids are smart and tough enough to be really good, but we got to wait and see.”
5. Will Iowa earn their first NCAA bid since 2006?
A: It’s going to take at least nine Big Ten wins or 21 overall to get there. If Iowa can survive the first seven league games no worse than 2-5, the Hawkeyes have a chance.
What Fran says: “I think any time you talk about the ceiling at this time of the year, it’s going to be a function of health. If we stay healthy and make the cuts I think we can make, I think we can be playing for a while.”