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

Iowa men’s basketball’s Even Brauns, Ben Krikke talk adjusting to Hawkeye offense, finding a “healthy” environment

The pair of transfers look to fill the void in the Iowa front court following the departures of Filip Rebraca and Kris Murray.
Isabella Tisdale
Iowa forward Ben Krikke dunks a basketball during the 2023 Men’s Basketball media day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday Oct. 2, 2023. Krikke is a recent transfer from Valparaiso University where he averaged 19.4 points per game.

While Iowa men’s basketball fans may be more focused on the four freshmen on the team, the Hawkeyes’ two transfer additions fill key roles in the frontcourt.

After the departures of starting center Filip Rebraca and backup Josh Ogundele, the Hawkeyes were lacking in size until the arrivals of Even Brauns and Ben Krikke in Iowa City. 

Brauns, listed as the only center on Iowa’s roster, stands at 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds. The senior spent his previous three years at Belmont, where he started 29 of 30 games for the Bruins his junior season. In that campaign, the Iowa City native registered four doubles-doubles while shooting a team-best 58 percent from the floor. 

Brauns said at the team’s media day on Monday that he prides himself in being a physical center but also one who can put the ball in the basket with his go-to lefty hook shot in the post. 

As for his defense, Brauns is just as hands-on in the post, saying his objective is to take away space and make his opponent uncomfortable down low. 

Second-year Josh Dix described Brauns as one of the most athletic centers he has played with in his career, adding the center is starting to comprehend his role on the offense within the flow of the game. 

Brauns explained how he would oftentimes patrol the paint in the Hawkeyes’ four-man perimeter but maintained that he feels comfortable playing along the arc, whether that’s with the ball or setting screens for his teammates. 

A product of Iowa City West High School, Brauns has grown up a Hawkeye fan. Upon his transfer announcement on May 8, he said was “beyond excited” to be in the Black and Gold. Now in Iowa City alongside former high school teammate Patrick McCaffery, Brauns has taken note of the Hawkeyes’ unique, “healthy” culture. 

“There’s a lot of encouragement, a lot of understanding, but also a lot of expectations that come with that,” Brauns said, citing winning tournament games as one of those goals. 

As for the style of Iowa basketball, Brauns deemed the offense as “free-flowing,” and a “non-stressful way to play basketball.” 

“Honestly, I think guys are encouraged to rather make a play rather than not make play,” he continued. “There’s no holding back from the coaches. There’s no telling guys, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that.’ You’re almost pushed to expand your game, to be uncomfortable a little bit, but in a healthy way.” 

According to Brauns, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery rarely tells a player he took a bad shot, adding the shot must be “really terrible” for the coach to say anything. 

Fran McCaffery had a lot to say about Krikke during his press conference on Monday. 

A transfer from Valparaiso, Krikke told reporters he was hesitant whether or not to take a fifth year or play professionally, but once the Beacons’ head coach Matt Lottich was fired in March, jumping into the transfer portal was an easy choice. After meeting with Hawkeye assistant coach Matt Gaines, Krikke “pulled the trigger on committing pretty quickly.” 

Calling the Valparaiso transfer “very athletic” with an “unbelievable motor,” Fran McCaffery said the All-Missouri Valley Conference first-teamer will have a short learning curve because of his experience in a motion offense.

When asked about the Iowa offense, Krikke, who averaged 19.4 points per game last season, said the Hawkeyes run at a more up-tempo pace than the Beacons but maintained that the adjustment is nothing more than “running harder.” 

“It’s a bit more emphasis on spreading the floor, reading and reacting, and playing the motion game,” he said. “I’ve played in [motion] systems before, maybe not in college, but I’ve played in that before, so nothing too crazy.” 

Ultimately, Brauns and Krikke will be playing in a system that not only emphasizes speed but also a balanced scoring attack. Fran McCaffery said this Iowa team has one of the deeper rosters he’s seen in recent years, and the pair of transfers are cognizant of such. 

“I love it. It’s good to have other options,” Krikke said. “I mean sometimes it was easy for teams last year to zone in on and send double and triple [teams], but it’ll be tough for teams to do now with the level of shooting we have, the amount of talent, so I’m happy about that.”

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.