Wieskamp prepped for first postseason as Hawkeyes take Chicago

Joe Wieskamp will prepare to play in his first Big Ten Tournament as the Hawkeyes look to get back on track.


David Harmantas

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp #10 drives into traffic during a basketball game against Michigan State on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes 82-67.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Joe Wieskamp was named to the Big Ten’s five-player All-Freshman team on Monday for his play throughout the regular season.

This evening, he’ll get his first taste of postseason life in college basketball.

“It’s a new season now,” he said. “That’s just kind of my mindset, and I’m focused on one game at a time.”

Wieskamp averages 11 points and 4.8 rebounds per game and has shown the ability to fill up the bucket in a hurry. However, he’s been prone to roller-coaster performances.

After the best game of his college career in which he scored 24 points on 6-of-6 shooting from 3-point range in a win over Illinois on Jan. 20, he dropped a combined 8 points in the next two games — both losses.

That’s something the whole team has done as well. The Hawkeyes had a stretch of games at the beginning of February in which they were one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, winning four in a row, before becoming one of the coldest in the latter half of the month and March, dropping five of their last six.

While Iowa tries to regain the game it played earlier in the season, the Hawkeyes don’t seem worried about Wieskamp’s transition to the most important part of the season.

Roman Slabach
Iowa Forward Tyler Cook #25 denies a rebound from Nebraskas Forward Tanner Borchardt #20 during a mens basketball game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Nebraska Huskers at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday, March 10, 2019. The Hawkeyes fell in overtime to the Huskers, 93-91.

“Just play ball; Joe is far ahead of where I was as a freshman,” said forward Tyler Cook, who was also named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2016-17. “He’s smart, he’s composed, he knows how to play the game, so there’s not much else I need to say. Just go out there, and play ball, and have fun, and I would say that to the rest of the guys as well.”

After going 4-14 in conference play last season, Iowa toppled Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament and almost beat eventual national runner-up Michigan. The advancement in play in the postseason showed anything is possible in March.

RELATED: Breaking down the men’s Big Ten Tournament

Now, the Hawkeyes will play Illinois in their first game of the tourney today, and that can cause a problem for a team that has slipped up recently.

The Illini have a guard tandem of Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier that has the potential to wreak havoc on the Hawkeye defense.

Dosunmu leads Illinois with 14.1 points per game, and Frazier ranks second at 13.1, helping them become one of the most effective guard tandems in the conference.

In preparation, Iowa faced a different challenge — it was forced to scout both Illinois and Northwestern in their limited practice time before the tournament. The Illini beat the Wildcats in overtime on Wednesday night, 74-69.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said the team’s plan was to split preparation down the middle. Luckily for the Hawkeyes, they have played — and beaten — both teams already this season.

“It’s different, but we’re playing two teams that we’ve already played, so there’s already a certain knowledge you already have,” McCaffery said. “We just try to look and see what are they doing differently later in the season, who’s playing well, and that kind of thing. That’s the way we do it right now.”