A season of surprise


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa forward Cordell Pemsl bends over covering his face after missing a shot at the the buzzer during a second round National Invitation Tournament men’s basketball game against TCU on Sunday, March 19, 2017. The Horned Frogs defeated the Hawkeyes, 94-92 in OT. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Cordell Pemsl missed the game-tying shot against TCU in in the final seconds of overtime.

His miss, an uncontested shot close to the free-throw line at the buzzer, induced a groan in the Carver-Hawkeye crowd.

Yes, the shot was certainly makeable. Yes, he was open.
But don’t be upset with Pemsl.

Don’t be too hard on anyone on this Iowa team.

Realistically, Iowa shouldn’t have even been in a position to tie or win that game. TCU ball and down 5 with 14 seconds to go, the game should have been over then. But so many things, even before the 14-second mark, had to happen in order for Iowa to get in that position.

The last minute of overtime stands as a microcosm of Iowa’s season.

Against all expectations, this Hawkeye basketball team competed for an NCAA Tournament berth.

Not many confidently predicted this team to finish above .500 in conference play, let alone convincingly dismantle both Iowa State and UNI, throttle Maryland on the road, and pull off an upset in Madison.

The high points often overshadowed the inconsistencies Iowa dealt with as the season wore on.

Iowa’s defense was a weak spot early on. A prime example of that came when Omaha traveled to Iowa City and knocked off the Hawkeyes, scoring 98 points.

But only a few games later, the Hawkeyes held Big 12 champion Iowa State to 64 points and UNI to 46.

The success, given what the Hawkeyes had, or lacked (one senior starter from last season, no big rim protector, question marks at point guard to start the year), should be taken in context.

The Hawkeyes didn’t play like a team whose starting rotation often consisted of three true freshmen, a redshirt freshman, and one senior, especially when it mattered most.

Iowa was streaky.

Going on three- or four-game winning and losing streaks brought out the best and worst in this team, but in almost every loss there was one positive to take away.

After Iowa struggled on the road against Northwestern, it was competitive in every single game from then on in the regular season. This team hung with the likes of top conference units, beating teams it shouldn’t have.

The Hawkeyes played arguably their best competition while Peter Jok struggled with injuries.

As his play declined, the underclassmen stepped up, and at times won games against NCAA Tournament teams.

These games impressed me the most this season, and I’d argue that they held the biggest takeaways of the year.

Next season, Jok will likely be in the NBA. His college eligibility is over.

I thought we’d have to wait until next year to see who would carry the load offensively and defensively for the Hawkeyes without the star senior.

I was wrong.

The future is bright; everyone’s been saying that, but it’s an accurate statement, and Hawkeye faithful should look forward to what’s next.

This Hawkeye squad flashed major potential, competing at an extremely high level, all while having an unproven and inexperienced group.

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