Iowa men’s basketball’s Jordan Bohannon regaining confidence after recent slump

The sixth-year senior said he had been hesitating to shoot over a three-game stretch where he went 7-for-33 from the floor.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon celebrates a 3-point make during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Bohannon shot 3-7 from outside the arc with 11 points. The Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions, 68-51.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Jordan Bohannon grinned as he strolled to his postgame press conference after the Iowa men’s basketball team’s 68-51 win over Penn State on Saturday. The sixth-year guard’s cheerful attitude had as much to do with the Hawkeye win as it did the company he brought with him to the podium.

Booker, Bohannon’s infant nephew, sat on his uncle’s lap in a black Iowa onesie with a gold bib around his neck as the Big Ten Conference’s all-time leader in 3-pointers fielded questions.

“He’s the next sharpshooter at Iowa,” Bohannon joked. “He will be in the 2039 recruiting class.”

The moment offered a stark contrast to the last time Bohannon left the floor.

Bohannon, the Iowa men’s basketball program’s all-time leader in games played (he also boasts the NCAA record), 3-pointers, and assists hung his head while leaving the locker room after Iowa’s two-point loss to Rutgers in New Jersey on Jan. 19.

The Hawkeyes had plenty of time to soak in the loss. Head coach Fran McCaffery’s team didn’t land at the Cedar Rapids airport until around 3 a.m. on Thursday.

Because of the frigid January temperature, Bohannon’s car wouldn’t start when he attempted to leave the airport. After getting a jump from some resourceful team managers, Bohannon finally got back to Iowa City around 4 a.m. The late night gave Bohannon plenty of time to think about his latest performance.

“It was a long night,” Bohannon said. “I played terribly, personally.

“This was probably one of the first times in my career where I doubted myself,” Bohannon added. “For whatever reason, I haven’t been able to find a rhythm. Shots I normally would make my entire career haven’t been falling these past couple games. I wasn’t my normal self.”

The same player who once left his shoes on the floor at Hilton Coliseum after a win over Iowa State and pops transition 3s as if they’re worth extra points had lost some confidence in himself.

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The career 39.6 percent 3-point shooter felt like he was hesitating on shots that he would normally make because of his struggles. Before the Penn State game, the former Linn-Mar High School prep shot a combined 7-for-33 from floor, including 5-for-25 from 3-point range, over Iowa’s previous three games. That included airballs and shots that left Bohannon shaking his head as he watched them clank off the rim. Against Rutgers, the former point guard now turned primarily shooting guard missed nine of his 11 shots, and he didn’t let that thought escape his mind on his return trip to Iowa City.

If a 3-pointer here or there had gone in, Iowa (14-5 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) may have left Newark with a conference win rather than a Big Ten loss.

Assistant coach Kirk Speraw wanted to put that thinking to rest ahead of Iowa’s game against Penn State. Speraw pulled Bohannon into his office before tipoff and played him highlights of his clutch shots and memorable moments from his six-year collegiate career.

“He showed me the cockiness and swagger I played with, and I need to get back to that because that’s myself,” Bohannon said. “I haven’t been myself these past couple games.”

Message received.

“Here we go again” briefly crossed Bohannon’s mind when his first transition 3-point shot of the night went in and out. But then the sharpshooter settled in.

Bohannon scored 11 points and hit three of his seven 3-point attempts in 33 minutes against the Nittany Lions — none bigger than his last one. Just under three minutes into the second half, Bohannon (who finished plus-24 in the +\-, the best of any Hawkeye) was off the mark on a shot from beyond the arc. Iowa point guard Joe Toussaint hustled to secure the offensive rebound, dished the ball back to Bohannon, who buried a 30-footer from the TigerHawk logo to give Iowa a six-point lead in front of a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd. The Nittany Lions never came within three points after that shot.

“Jordan is flying around,” Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry said postgame of Bohannon’s impact. “He takes a lot of energy from guys because you’ve got to chase him around the whole game — chase him around screens.”

Bohannon’s performance was far from a career-best, but the confidence he felt from his coaches and teammates to keep shooting despite recent struggles comforted him.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder wants to embody the same resilience that his team does as a whole.

“We’re a really tough group,” Kris Murray said. “We’re not going to let anyone out-tough us.”

“When people hit us in the mouth, we’ve got to hit them right back,” Bohannon added.

Bohannon threw his first punch back at his recent shooting slump on Saturday, and he’s hoping to throw another one in Iowa’s next game against Purdue on Thursday.

Bohannon’s confidence may not be all the way back — but it’s getting there.

“I want this final year of mine, because this team that we have is really special, to be special,” Bohannon said. “We have what it takes to get it done. I think we have the group that can make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Right now, we just have to keep building things one game at a time.”