Kriener, Pemsl bring “Bad Boys” attitude to Iowa City

Cordell Pemsl and Ryan Kriener have always been a physical combination in the paint. Now, they're bringing the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" attitude to Carver-Hawkeye.

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Kriener, Pemsl bring “Bad Boys” attitude to Iowa City

Iowa forward Ryan Kriener drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Michigan men's basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, February 1, 2019.

Iowa forward Ryan Kriener drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Michigan men's basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, February 1, 2019.

Lily Smith

Iowa forward Ryan Kriener drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Michigan men's basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, February 1, 2019.

Lily Smith

Lily Smith

Iowa forward Ryan Kriener drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Michigan men's basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, February 1, 2019.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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When the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Finals in the 1989-90 season, they did so with a long list of physical and defense-oriented players, including Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, and Isiah Thomas.

Iowa’s lineup obviously doesn’t feature any NBA champions, but it does boast the post combination of Ryan Kriener and Cordell Pemsl.

The 6-8, 230-pound Pemsl redshirted last season after undergoing surgery to remove hardware around his knee from a previous surgery, so the Hawkeyes didn’t possess the physical defense he brings nearly so often.

Now healthy entering the 2019-20 season, Pemsl and Kriener — 6-9, 255 pounds — are trying to bring the Pistons’ “Bad Boys” attitude to the Hawkeyes.

“[Kriener’s] a guy who I felt like is one of those players who doesn’t really want to take anything from anybody and is willing to sacrifice his body for the team,” Pemsl said. “I consider myself a guy that is able to go out there and do the same thing. So, to play side-by-side, and to motivate each other, and bring that energy that just sparks energy in the rest of the team, so I’m glad to be playing with him again.”

In his two games last season, Pemsl averaged 4.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game on 66.7 percent shooting, including an 8-point, 6-board performance against Iowa State in 16 minutes.

The rivalry game against the Cyclones also brought out Pemsl’s fiery side.

He did the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet, such as taking charges and forcing shot-clock violations with stellar defense, but he also started a skirmish with Iowa State’s Michael Jacobson in the first half, resulting in a technical fouls for both.

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Kriener has played through pain and battled with black eyes, creating a lane of players who won’t back down.

Pemsl’s return will give Iowa even more depth in the frontcourt, and it will also take some of the pressure off Kriener.

“It’s pretty great,” Kriener said. “Now I don’t have to be the only one beating up guys out there, so he can help me a little bit.”

Pemsl and Kriener will also be joined by some other big bodies in the post – Luka Garza and Jack Nunge.

Garza ranked second on the team last season with 13.1 points on 53.1 percent shooting from the floor. He, along with sophomore Joe Wieskamp, will be leaned at to lead an offense that has been severely affected by departures and injuries.

Nunge hasn’t seen the floor since the 2017-18 season after taking a year to redshirt last season. When he did play, though, he was effective when he stayed consistent.

The 6-11 forward averaged 5.7 points and 2.8 rebounds a game, including a career-high 17 against Grambling on Nov. 16, 2017, and 16 against Iowa State on Dec. 7, 2017.

After taking a year to work on his game and build muscle mass, Nunge could play an important role down low.

And maybe Pemsl and Kriener will rub off on them.

“We’ll get Luka and Jack on that [Bad Boys attitude] this year, too, I guess,” Kriener said.