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2016-17 Iowa Hawkeye Basketball: Can Fran rebuild?

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Iowa lost 4 key contributors to graduation, can McCaffery sustain some success with a young team?

Iowa v Gonzaga Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Vitals

Coach: Fran McCaffery (7th year)

2015-16 Record: 22–11 (12-6), KP #22

Key Departures: Mike Gesell (PG), Anthony Clemmons (PG), Jarrod Uthoff (F), Adam Woodbury (C)

Additions: Jordan Bohannon (G, FR); Maishe Dailey (G, FR); Isaiah Moss (G, RS FR); Dale Jones (F, RS JR/SR); Cordell Pemsl (F, FR); Tyler Cook (F, FR); Ryan Kriener (F, FR)

The Lineup

Expected Starting Lineup:
G Christian Williams (SO), G Peter Jok (SR), F Nicholas Baer (RS SO), F Dominique Uhl (JR), F Tyler Cook (FR)

Key Bench Players:

G Brady Ellingson (RS SO), G Jordan Bohannon (FR), F Dale Jones (RS JR), F Ahmad Wagner (SO)

This is a very young team, overall. Peter Jok is the only returning starter, and the only SR on the team. He’s going to be caring a GIANT chunk of the scoring this season, and will push for first team All Conference. Otherwise it’s a bunch of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Dominique Uhl has a lot of physical tools, but disappeared a bunch last year, and has been in Fran’s doghouse before. Baer is a former walk-on who is a tweener and hustle guy, but gets pushed around a bit. Christian Williams will be taking over PG duties after playing almost none last year. Tyler Cook is a stud recruit, but counting on a freshman to be the #2 scorer is asking a lot. Ellingson is a sharpshooter who couldn’t shoot last year, but is the only guy with any experience. Dale Jones only played in 6 games last year before tearing the same ACL for a 2nd time. WI fans will know Bohannon’s older brother, apparently Jordan is the best of the 3, but we’ll see. Ahamad Wagner showed some flashes last year, but he’s going to be asked to step up in a big way. There’s also a trio of freshman in (G) Maishe Dailey, (F) Ryan Kriener, (F) Cordell Pemsl that might RS, but there’s been no official word.

Kenpom Projections:

AdjO: 107.6 (39th)

AdjD: 94.6 (62th)

AdjT: 71.3 (139th)

Overall: +13.04 (55th)

The Schedule

Non Conference

The Hawkeyes have a non-con schedule that should help their RPI, which is quite a change from the last few years. Against the likes of Seton Hall, UVA, (fuck) Notre Dame, ISU, and UNI; they win any 3 of those, and that’s a damn good resume come bubble time.

The biggest game of the non-con schedule comes on November 25 in Florida against #7 Virginia. The Wahoos will obviously be favored in this one as Iowa will be looking to turn a few heads and earn a "quality win" in the eyes of the selection committee. It wouldn’t be quite the same as going into Chapel Hill and knocking off UNC (go to hell Roy), but there’s nothing wrong with beating a top-10 team early in the season.

The ISU game should also be quite entertaining. This is an intense rivalry, and while both teams are rebuilding a bit this year, both teams play entertaining styles. Usually makes for a fun game.

Conference

Overall, this is a pretty manageable confernce slate. However, they’ll need to build up the wins early. Fran McCaffery has had a couple of teams fall apart down the stretch (including last season) over the years, if the new faces aren’t all on the same page by February, things could once again get ugly. Though, hopefully, this time it’s just a function of the schedule. Iowa finishes out the regular season with a stretch goes @ Michigan State, vs Illinois, vs Indiana, @ Maryland, @ Wisconsin before coming home to close out against Penn State.

If the Hawkeyes make the NCAA Tournament the last 3 weeks of the season are going to be critical for seeding. Hopefully Iowa is on the right side of the bubble heading into February, or we could be looking at the NIT.

Still, though, this is a very young team, and marks the first time Fran has had to really rebuild the roster. Recruiting is getting better, and if missing the bubble is now the low water mark, that is an accomplishment of it’s own.

The Rebuild

Fran McCaffery’s teams have all been built around experience and leadership. Each year seems to have a clear-cut leader to build a team around such as Matt Gatens, Devyn Marble, Aaron White or Jarrod Uthoff.

This year it’s expected to be Peter Jok’s team. Peter had a breakout season last year and has the most experience of anybody returning, he’s the only senior on the roster. On paper Iowa has a lot of talent, if not a whole lot of experience. The balance is tilted towards underclassmen and if you’ll excuse the cliché, Iowa is going to need some guys to step up.

Nicholas Baer was a surprise success as a freshman last year, and Tyler Cook comes into this season surrounded by hype from the coaching staff. Fran’s got his work cut out for him in what looks to be a rebuilding year, but the pieces are there for the future.

Creighton’s Thoughts

I have Iowa finishing at an admittedly pessimistic 14-17 (7-11). Maybe it’s just my self-loathing as an Iowa football fan bleeding into basketball season, but I think the lack of experience is going to be apparent against teams that Iowa can’t beat on talent alone.

Iowa’s got some talent, but not one-and-done type talent. Experience has always been important in building a basketball team at Iowa. I think the young team will lose most of the games they should, plus probably a few they shouldn’t. Neither a top-5 or a bottom-5 finish in conference would surprise me, but ultimately I expect the inexperience to get to them. The future looks bright, but the present is too unknown for me to get my hopes up.

Stew’s Thoughts

I’m a bit more optimistic, overall. Fran has raised the floor for the program. Only in McCaffery’s first year did they have a losing record. Jok is a star, and could manage over 20 ppg. There’s a lot of young, intriguing pieces. Losing Uthoff, Gesell, and Woodbury, I think Fran is moving a bit more towards what his ideal team makeup is, with lots of guys who can play many positions, getting up and down the floor in transition. There are going to be some rough patches with the young team, and the tourney is far from a guarantee, but I do think they can be around the bubble come tourney time. Really excited to see a new core of players get started with the program.

OTE Predictions:

These look very bubblicious.

OTE Predictions
Iowa Hawkeyes
B1G
Overall
Writer W L W L
Aaron Y 5 13 14 17
babaoreally 10 8 20 11
Candystripes 10 8 21 10
Creighton M 7 11 14 17
DJ Carver 11 7 19 11
Graham F 9 9 20 11
Jesse C 9 9 20 11
MNW 10 8 20 11
StewMonkey 10 8 19 12
Thump 5 13 13 18
Average 8.6 9.4 18 12.9
High 11 7 21 10
Low 5 13 13 18