The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Last season’s defensive struggles loom in men’s hoops exhibition

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep
Iowa forward Dom Uhl and guard Connor McCaffery cover William Jewell guard Bryon Harp during a men’s basketball exhibition game between Iowa and William Jewell College in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cardinals, 105-81. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Exhibition games aren’t meant to be pretty.

The Iowa men’s basketball team was able to come away with a victory on Oct. 27 against William Jewell in Carver-Hawkeye, but there is a lingering issue that remains: defense.

Last season, the Hawkeyes were 123rdrd in defensive efficiency in the nation, according to KenPom.

On Oct. 27, Iowa gave up 81 points and looked lost numerous times on defense, especially in transition.

“This was a hard team to guard,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “Especially when they took the big man out and decided to go small, we had five guys out on the perimeter just driving and kick. As the game went on, a lot of our guys did a much better job defensively, moving their feet, getting their hands up.”

McCaffery’s trademark full-court pressure was effective, but there were still signs of rust, normal for the first game of the season.

“This was a really good test for us,” McCaffery said. “They are really well-coached and a very talented group in terms of speed and quickness.”

Fouls were a trend; the Cardinals were in the double bonus both halves, though the refs were blowing their whistles on nearly every glimpse of contact.

Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery were solid at the top of the 1-2-2 press, which gave William Jewell guards problems all night.

“We played together in 7thth grade in Las Vegas, so we go back quite a bit,” Bohannon said. “Getting flashbacks of playing together in Vegas, but we just know where each other is going to be on the floor, and it showed tonight.”

With the recent news of guard Christian Williams transferring, the McCafferys are still determining whether Connor will redshirt this year.

“I’m not sure yet,” Connor McCaffery said. “I have to talk to [baseball coach Rick] Heller and my dad a little more, but I’m going to make a decision, hopefully, in these next two weeks.”

A key stat in this game for the Hawkeyes was their blocks.

Iowa was 152ndnd in the nation last year in blocks, but the squad was able to use its size to its advantage and reject nine attempts on the night.

There were moments when the guards got beat on the perimeter, but the big men down low were able to meet the Cardinls at the rim and take the scoring opportunity away.

When the Hawkeyes start to play tougher opponents during the regular season, it’s going to be vital that the backcourt doesn’t rely solely on the frontcourt if they get beat on the bounce.

Iowa allowed 46 points in the first half, but improved on that stat in the second half, giving up 35 points and getting after it on the defensive end, which led to easy offense.

“We communicated better,” Bohannon said. “It was something we keyed in on at halftime. We did a pretty good job moving on after the first half.”

McCaffery and the team made it known at media day that they need to improve on their defense to reach their full potential.

The defensive performance in the first half was not an ideal way to start the season, but the outcome of the second half showed this team has potential to be a solid defensive group.

Despite all the negative things to come out of this game, Fran McCaffery believes a lot of positive came out of this contest, and he liked what he saw from his squad.

“This was a really good situation for us to grow as a team,” he said.

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