New faces abound

Iowas+Maishe+Dailey%2C+Jordan+Bohannon%2C+Tyler+Cook%2C+Ryan+Kriener%2C+Cordell+Pemsl%2C+and+Riley+Till+pose+for+a+photo+during+mens+basketball+media+day+in+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Wednesday%2C+October+5%2C+2016.+The+Hawkeyes+will+play+their+first+regular+season+game+on+Friday%2C+November+11%2C+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+at+8%3A30+p.m.+against+Kennesaw+State.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FJoseph+Cress%29

Iowa’s Maishe Dailey, Jordan Bohannon, Tyler Cook, Ryan Kriener, Cordell Pemsl, and Riley Till pose for a photo during men’s basketball media day in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday, October 5, 2016. The Hawkeyes will play their first regular season game on Friday, November 11, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 8:30 p.m. against Kennesaw State. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

By Blake Dowson

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Graduation hit the Iowa basketball team with a gut punch last season.

Jarrod Uthoff, Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons, and Adam Woodbury — all starters for numerous years at Iowa, all gone.

But with the roster he has employed this season, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery doesn’t need to lose a ton of sleep at night worrying about who is going to start the game sitting next to him on the bench and who’s going to be on the floor.

“It’s almost irrelevant who starts, because we can go beyond 10 [players],” McCaffery said. “Whether we will or not remains to be seen. To be fair to everybody and actually get 10 into a game is hard. I think we have numerous players who can be effective and will be ready to play.”

For the sake of argument, though, and that Iowa will have to develop some sort of starting five by the time its first scrimmage roles around on Oct. 30, let’s try to piece together who those five will be.

Point Guard

One day, freshman Jordan Bohannon will run plays with the starting unit, the next day, it will be sophomore Christian Williams.

“Christian and Jordan both bring different things to the position that both benefit our team,” McCaffery said. “They’ve been going at each other, sometimes they play together. I look at collective stats over a three-week period of time, both of their assist-to-turnover ratios have been really good.”

This spot is the trickiest one to predict, but Williams still seems like the safe bet, at least early in the season, because he has some time under his belt.

Shooting Guard

This one is the no-brainer. Peter Jok is the lone returning starter on the team and is primed for a huge year scoring the ball.

Sports Illustrated predicted him to lead all Power 5 players in scoring this season, and numerous writers have pegged him to lead the Big Ten.

“I’m not really worried about that,” Jok said. “End of the day, it’s just how I play. I’m focused on myself right now, getting ready for the season … I just look at being a leader, being in a different role than I have been the past few years.”

Small Forward

The two forward positions and center (or more realistically for this season, the three forward positions) will all blend together, but Nicholas Baer fits as the best No. 3 right now.

Baer was a spark off the bench last season, and some players are best fit for a role like that, but McCaffery said Baer might force himself into the starting lineup.

“I kind of look at him like [Anthony] Clemmons. Last year … I did not want to start Anthony Clemmons,” McCaffery said. “I wanted to bring him off the bench, and he, to his credit, earned his starting position … that’s where Nicholas [Baer] is right now.”

Power Forward

If he is healthy, the power forward position seems to be Dale Jones’ to lose.

The problem is that he just recently got healthy from a serious knee injury that cost him all of last season, and he is dealing with a bad ankle, McCaffery said.

Jones can rebound, shoot the 3-ball, guard numerous positions, and handle the ball a little bit — all pluses in his head coach’s book.

Center

It’s going to be the Tyler Cook show. He’s the real deal.

The most impressive part of his game may be between his ears, too. Hearing him talk basketball, he seems mature beyond his years.

“Defense is all about effort,” Cook said. “Defense shouldn’t be too much of a transition for anybody. I think we’re all doing a pretty good job of that.”

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