Iowa basketball team does balancing act overseas

All sorts of go-to guys in England and France

Mike Hlas
Published: August 21 2013 | 3:25 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 7:22 pm in
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I hate to be part of a hype machine, any hype machine. In the summer of 2010, the Gazette put out a soft-cover book called "If the Stars Align." It was about the Iowa football team.

The stars didn't align.

But the more time passes, the more I'm convinced Iowa's 2013-14 men's basketball team will be dynamic.

The Hawkeyes' recent 6-game trip to England and France only added to that suspicion. Having covered one of those foreign trips, I realize the competiton varies wildly from game to game. Sometimes it's skilled professionals. Sometimes it's a team that would labor to be .500 in an NCAA Division III conference.

But Iowa played six games in eight days across four different venues. Beyond getting over jet lag, there was travel from London to Paris, travel from Paris to the south of France, shuttling in and out of hotels -- the kind of stuff that is very tiring in itself, let alone adding all those games into the mix.

My wife and I made almost the exact same vacation trip several years ago. Flew to London, took the Chunnel to Paris, took a train to the south of France. Fantastic experience. But it can be hard work, too. And neither of us ran up and down a basketball court for 90 minutes on six different occasions. Which was a good thing for the sport.

Because of a glitch from the Copper Box Arena in London for the second of Iowa's two games there against the not-so-good London Lions, complete statistics weren't available. But point totals were available from that game for most of the Hawkeyes, and complete boxscores were for the other five. So, here are the scoring-averages that are known:

Aaron White  13.6 points per game

Peter Jok  13.3

Melsahn Basabe  12.6

Devyn Marble  11.2

Josh Oglesby  10.7

Gabe Olaseni  9.7

Adam Woodbury  6.3

I don't know if Zach McCabe, Jarrod Uthoff or Anthony Clemmons played in that second London game. McCabe averaged 8.8 points in the other five games, Uthoff 7.0, and Clemmons 4.6. Clemmons averaged 4.6 assists in the five games for which I have his stats.

That's balance. That's almost Wallenda-like balance. Which is a very good sign for the season to come.

Here are things that jumped out at me:

Oglesby, besides averaging double-figures, made 17 three-pointers in six games.

Of the five games with box scores available, Marble averaged a team-high 5.5 assists. Obviously, he had to play more point guard than he might normally have since Mike Gesell couldn't play on the trip due to a broken hand. But Marble clearly sacrificed some scoring for setting up teammates. If he's fine doing that during the season -- and he'll still be counted on to be a scorer -- I think he'll be the most-important player on the team.

I don't know how many minutes he played in the second game in London (he did have a team-high 18 points that game), but freshman Jok led the team in minutes played over the other five. Olaseni had the second-most, and I know he had a lot of minutes in both London games, so he and Jok probably were 1-2 or 2-1 in total minutes. Woodbury averaged 3.6 fouls, so maybe Olaseni got more minutes than planned because of Woodbury getting in foul-trouble.

Whatever the case, Olaseni clearly showed up. In the five games with complete stats, he totalled 13 blocked shots. Uthoff had six.

Basabe played ball. Like Marble and White, he didn't play in the trip's opener. But he did a nice job of scoring, and he averaged a team-high 8.5 rebounds (no one else topped 6.0) in the four games for which statistics were available.

Six players averaged at least one steal per game.

McCabe averaged 2.4 assists, the most of any non-guard.

With Gesell, it's an 11-player rotation. Who has an 11-player rotation? Does someone fall by the wayside? Not necessarily, especially since Oglesby seemed to make a statement with his play.

"I think we can go 11," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said before the team left Iowa City. He said with that many players, he can "ratchet up the defense" and run his guys hard.

The last time Iowa had a regular 11-player rotation was in 1986-87. Those were really good players, and that team played full-court pressure for 40 minutes. The Hawkeyes went 30-5 that season.

Am I suggesting such a thing will happen this season? I most certainly am not. Like I said, I hate being a cog in a hype machine.

But I'm thinking "dynamic."

 
 

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