Iowa men’s basketball set to take on Seton Hall

The Hawkeyes visit the Pirates in New Jersey on Wednesday night in each team’s first game against a Power-5 opponent this season.


Gabby Drees

Iowa men’s basketball head coach Fran McCaffery responds to a question during day one of Big Ten Media Days at Target Center in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. This year marks the first year of the Target Center hosting Big Ten Media Days. “Well, they [Kris and Keegan Murray]… they’re [playing] dramatically different, different games,” McCaffery said. “And I would like to see them be treated as such.”

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s basketball team is prepared to take on Seton Hall at Prudential Center in New Jersey on Wednesday night. The two teams match up as a part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual series of early-season contests between Big Ten and Big East schools that began in 2015.

The Hawkeyes enter Wednesday’s competition undefeated at 2-0 on the year. They previously took down Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina A&T at home.

The Pirates stand at an identical 2-0 with wins over Monmouth and Saint Peters.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said the Pirates present a unique challenge for his team defensively.

“They’re well-coached, and they have a really good collection of athletes, drivers, shooters, and power guys,” McCaffery said at a Monday zoom press conference. “There’s a lot of versatility. That’s what the Gavitt Games is supposed to be all about: opportunities in November to play quality opponents on television, create interest early in the season, and prepare us for conference games.”

A pair of seniors lead Seton Hall in scoring. 6-foot-2 guard Al-Amir Dawes and 6-foot-10 forward Tyrese Samuel each put up 11.5 points per game. Dawes has yet to start a game, instead coming off the bench in each of the Pirates’ first two competitions.

Seton Hall defense smothering opponents

 The Pirates’ defense has held opponents to just 15 percent shooting from behind the arc through two games. It also forced six shot clock violations in its last game against St. Peter’s.

McCaffery credited new Seton Hall head coach Shaheen Holloway with creating an identity of hustle in the program, which he said extends from Holloway’s Elite Eight run at St. Peter’s last March.

“They’re going to put pressure on the ball,” McCaffery said. “They’re going to extend, so we’ve got to take care of the ball and move it. That typifies the competitive instincts they have, that have been instilled by coach Holloway.”

McCaffery’s history with Seton Hall

Before signing a contract at Iowa in March 2008, McCaffery nearly headed to Seton Hall instead after a successful five-year stint at Siena — in nearby Loudonville, New York.

“We were very close, we had some preliminary discussion,” McCaffery said. “When [athletic director Gary Barta] called and offered me the position, we were getting ready to head down to Seton Hall to further those discussions. [Instead], I accepted the Iowa position.”

Nimmers to redshirt

Iowa Freshman guard Amarion Nimmers will officially redshirt after missing the Hawkeyes’ first two games of the season with a wrist injury. Nimmers joined the Hawkeyes as a preferred walk-on from Rock Island, Illinois.

“His wrist is fine, but he’s going to redshirt,” McCaffery said in a presser Monday morning. “It makes no sense for a walk-on to play his first year. You want to maintain that eligibility on the back end, give him a year to get adjusted and learn the system, and enable him to take advantage of his five years.”

McCaffery cited success stories of walk-on players at Iowa taking similar paths, mentioning Austin Ash, Kyle Denning, Riley Till, and Nicholas Baer.

“When he’s 22, he’ll be a pretty good player, and he’ll have options,” McCaffery said of Nimmers. “It’s part of my responsibility to make sure he has options.”