Iowa 85, Western Illinois 62
There was a lot to like in Iowa's victory tonight. Number one in my book is the performance from the free throw line. The Hawks set a school record for most FT attempts without a miss by going 20-20. Given the team's woes at the line from Alford-coached teams and throughout the exhibition season, this was a nice surprise.
Iowa had a well-balanced scoring attack with six players hitting double figures in points. Pierre Pierce again led the way with 16, although I'll be the last to compliment him on his performance. He certainly lived up to his inclusion on the Big Ten Wonk's All Head Case Team, coughing the ball up five times and unnecessarily forcing a lot of drives and shots. I say unnecessary because he too often feels like he needs to take on the three or four defenders while other scoring options wait for the ball. He ended the night shooting 6-15.
Oh right, I was talking about how there was a lot to like tonight. Hawk fans were no doubt excited to see Adam Haluska play his share of minutes and contribute 14 points in his much-heralded debut. He scored his first Hawkeye point on a free throw and later added two three-pointers. The other double figure scorers were Erek Hansen, Greg Brunner, Doug Thomas, and Jeff Horner.
- The Beast (some call him Doug Thomas) had a monster game. He opened up with one of the most vicious dunks I have ever seen. He came up with a loose ball in the frontcourt, and looked to be sealed by two WIU defenders. He looked in the direction of a teammate, as if to pass, then put the ball on the floor, slicing through the WIU players and brutally attacked the unsuspecting basket. I swear his shoes almost rose up to the bottom of the backboard. For an encore, the Beast threw home two more alley-oop dunks. He finished the game 4-4 from the field and 6-6 from the line to score 14, and grabbed 9 rebounds in 21 minutes. How many more dominant games before he starts? I might not know the inner-workings of roster construction, but my intuition tells me that you start your five best players. The Beast has clearly outplayed Hansen up to this point. I'm all for increasing Doug's playing time.
- Hansen was decent, but I can't help but expect more than 2 rebounds from a 6'11" player. His highlight: he caught a pass at the top of the key, noticed he was unchallenged, and calmly knocked down the trey. Hansen scored 13 (including 4-4 at the stripe) and picked up a couple blocks.
- The fans around me seemed really eager for Haluska to get off to a good start, and I think most fans felt the same way. His conditioning might be a little behind due to his injury (he was breathing a lot harder than the other guys at the first TV timeout), but Adam showed glimpses of the talent we all hope he'll showcase. He was very active without the ball and his jumpshot looked smooth. He was able to put the ball on the floor on a few occasions and get past his defender. One deficiency I noticed: he seemed like he lost the guy he was guarding at least a couple times.
- Jeff Horner is a guy Iowans have no trouble cheering. He's an in-stater (Mason City, where he took the torch from former Hawk PG Dean Oliver), has a nice jumper, is unselfish, and busts ass. The guy was all over the court tonight picking up loose balls and tallied 7 steals tonight. He also found open teammates to the tune of 6 assists and contributed 10 points of his own.
- Greg Brunner, another in-state guy, played well again. He scored twice early, and finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds.
- This was the first game where Carlton Reed had little impact. In fact, he only played 8 minutes. Hard to put up big numbers in that time.
- One surprise tonight: Iowa was outrebounded 32-31. Hmmm, time to start a center who can rebound? I'll probably keep hinting at this until it actually happens.
I read somewhere that Western Illinois's new players compose "a recruiting class that was ranked in the top 25 in the nation by several scouting services," with no mention of the scouting services. Athlon Sports claims "the Leathernecks had a great recruiting year" without going into any detail. It's hard to project how good WIU will be tonight - the team has 10 new players and none of tonight's starters were with the team a year ago.
All five projected starters for Western Illinois in tonight’s game are new to
the program, including Florida International transfer Eulis Baez, and two of the
Leathernecks’ scoring leaders from a year ago, Will Lewis and T.J. Gray, will
fill reserve roles.
From QC Times
Iowa starts its season Friday night with a game at home against Western Illinois. The Leathernecks finished last in the Mid-Continent Conference with a 1-15 record last year, en route to a 3-25 season. Despite winning only one game in the conference and returning only five players from that team, their conference preseason poll has them improving to seventh in the nine-team league. Other publications pick them at either eighth or ninth.
WIU played two exhibition games, beating Saint Ambrose 107-66 and SIU-Edwardsville 71-64. They used their up-tempo style to force 25 turnovers in the first game and 22 against SIU-E.
Players to watch include Eulis Baez, Will Lewis, T.J. Gray, and David Jackson.
Baez is a 6'8" transfer from Florida International. He averaged 12.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game there as a junior. He managed to grab 14 rebounds, dish out 7 assists, and score 19 points in 27 minutes against Saint Ambrose.
Lewis is a senior who averaged 9.9 points and 4.7 rebounds last year. The 6'6" forward scored 17 and 21 points in the two exhibitions.
The 5'9" Gray was a member of the conference All-Freshmen Team a year ago after averaging 10.0 points a game and 3.1 assists. He is the Leathernecks' leading returning scorer.
Jackson, a freshman, averaged over 23 pts/game for his Memphis high school. The 6'4" guard was nominated to play in the McDonald's All-America game.
Western Illinois fits into the schedule in a good spot. The game should allow Iowa to get its opening game jitters out of the way against an easily beatable opponent. It will also give the Hawkeyes practice against a fast-paced team, which will hopefully help prepare them for the athletic and up-tempo attack of Louisville next week.
Learning From His Mistakes
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino felt Iowa was able to catch his team off-guard last season by playing two games before meeting his squad, which had played none. He can't make that excuse this year. Pitino scheduled a game against a D-II team in Hawaii for this Saturday, two days before playing Iowa. His team will fly out on Thursday, while most of the other teams in the Maui Invitational will make the trip on Saturday. Read about it here.
Just in Case You Cared...
Hawkeye Hoops passed 1,000 viewers today! That's an exciting little milestone for me, since it means that there might actually be a few people reading what I've been posting. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you continue to check back for Hawkeye and Big Ten basketball news throughout the season.
Wednesday Press Conference
Check out Hawkeye Nation's transcript of today's press conference with Coach Alford.
Looks like Erek Hansen's starting spot is safe for now - Alford says starting Adam Haluska in place of Mike Henderson is the only lineup change that would occur, if any. For those who haven't been keeping up, that means the starters for Friday will be:
C Erek Hansen 6'11"
F Greg Brunner 6'7"
G Pierre Pierce 6'4"
G Jeff Horner 6'3"
G Mike Henderson 6'2"/ Adam Haluska 6'5"
Alford once again sang the praises of freshman guard Carlton Reed, saying "He's got a lot of savvy and poise for a young player. And it just hasn't been the two exhibition games. He's practiced that way. He's had probably two or three poor practices sinec we started."
More stats you didn't even realize you wanted to know - today's tables take a look which returning Big Ten players were best at accumulating steals and blocks in 2003-04. Enjoy.
|Pat Ewing Jr.||Ind||331||33||3.99|
|Pat Ewing Jr.||Ind||331||17||2.05|
|Roger Powell Jr||Ill||856||14||0.65|
- Mike Henderson probably shouldn't be listed since he played so few minutes last year, but hey, what good is a table on a Hawkeye blog if there are no Hawkeyes in it?
- Mike Wilkinson (Wisconsin) and Paul Davis (Michigan State) have been listed in all four tables (points, rebounds, steals, blocks) I've made the last few days. I guess that's why they're All Big Ten.
- Wow, Erek Hansen. He should have no trouble leading the conference in blocks if he swats shots anywhere near as often as he did last year.
- Damn you Blogger. Damn you.
Another post similar to yesterday, but this time we're looking at the Big Ten's best returning rebounders (based on rate, not totals).
|Pat Ewing Jr.||Ind||331||102||12.33|
|Roger Powell Jr||Ill||856||160||7.48|
- Can Pat Ewing Jr. get some playing time? He led all conference returners in rebounds and steals (by a wide margin), and he was near the top in blocks as well (again, all these stats are measured per 40/minutes). I'll admit that I didn't get to see him play last year, so feel free to tell me that he doesn't deserve more than 12 minutes a game.
* * * Update * * *
File this under "Exhibition games don't really matter, but. . ."
- Through Indiana's first two games, Pat Ewing Jr. has 18 rebounds in 37 minutes (or 19.46 reb/40 min). Not too shabby. He also scored 30 points in that time, for a crazy 32.43 pts/40 min.
Less Than A Week Until Maui...
In the comments to one of my earlier posts I noted that I thought Iowa might have a disadvantage in the Maui Invitational due to their schedule prior to the tournament. Iowa plays Western Illinois this Friday, flies to Hawaii on Saturday, then starts a three-games-in-three-days tourney on Monday. That seemed like a really quick turnaround to me, but most of the tournament's other teams will be in a similar situation.
Friday, November 19
Stanford vs. San Francisco (Oakland, CA)
North Carolina vs. Santa Clara (Oakland, CA)
Western Illinois at Iowa
Texas State at Texas
Saturday, November 20
Louisville at BYU Hawaii (Laie, HA)
BYU and Tennessee will have no regular season games under their belts when the tournament starts.
Chaminade opened their season last night with a win over Winona State, 67-64.
* * * Update * * *
I guess the Hawks aren't the only Iowa basketball program making a trip to Hawaii this season. I was scanning Chaminade's schedule and saw that Waldorf College from Forest City is making a trip out there to play the Silverswords on December 19.
Iowa doesn't play again until Friday, and I have a pretty busy week, so posting might be a little light for the next few days. Right now I'm thinking I'll run a few tables of the top returning players in the conference for various statistics. If that doesn't make you tremble with excitement, drop back at the end of the week for some talk about the season opener against Western Illinois.
A while back I posted some tables that listed the league's leading returners in points, rebounds, and assists. Today I want to take a closer look at points scoring and see who scored at the highest rate. Rather than just points per game, though, I want to rank players by their points per 40 minutes of playing time. This enables a more direct comparison by comparing what players score given equal amounts of playing time. Of course other factors will affect a player's scoring rate, like the tempo his team plays and the other players on the court, but this at least gives us a rough idea of how well guys can put up points.
Points per 40 minutes is simple to calculate. Divide points by minutes played, and multiply the result by 40.
In the interest of saving a little time, I'm not making the outlined tables like I did last time. Sorry if it gets a little sloppy.
2003-04 Big Ten Leaders (Among Returners), Pts/40 min
Rank, Player, Team, Minutes, Points, Pts/40 min
1. Paul Davis...............MSU....847...474...22.38
2. Bracey Wright...........Ind...1111...536...19.30
3. Pierre Pierce.......Iowa...1000...468...18.72
4. Lester Abram.........Mich....913...405...17.74
5. Roger Powell Jr.......... Ill...856...371...17.34
6. Chris Hill.................MSU...971...415...17.10
7. Deron Williams..........Ill...1017...420...16.52
8. Tony Stockman......OSU...972...393...16.17
9. Nick Smith...................Ill...552...223...16.16
1. I'm looking for a good year from Ohio State's Terence Dials. He didn't rank very high on the points per game list because he only played 26.8 minutes a game last year, but he finished well on this list. OSU lost last year's starting center Velimir Radinovic, so Dials should see an increase in his minutes, and should therefore score more points. Dials is also the fifth-best Big Ten returner in rebounds per 40 min (check back for that tomorrow).
2. Illinois leads the list with five out of the 20 spots. Michigan State has four players listed, and Ohio State has three.
Iowa 85, Laval 77
Iowa got another exhibition win today, but this one didn't come too easily. Laval kept within striking distance for most of the game. Carlton Reed hit a three at the buzzer to give Iowa a 44-33 halftime lead. Laval whittled the deficit to three in the second half, and were only down by six points at one point in the last minute of the game.
Coach Alford was not pleased with Iowa's defensive effort, and in a postgame interview he said they have a lot of work to do to prepare for next week's season opener. He said that the Hawks were too focused on the individual player they were guarding and did not offer enough help on defense, which Laval exploited with lots of screens and sharp cutting. Laval ended the game shooting 49%, including 9-20 from the perimeter.
- Iowa fans saw Adam Haluska play for the first time. He went scoreless in 15 minutes of action. Alford said he just wanted to play Haluska long enough to prove to him that he was over his injury and expects him to play better next week. I know I was a little disappointed that Haluska didn't have the ball much, and that he only got three shots off. I'm still expecting him to be a solid player this year - he should look better when he gets in sync with the offense and plays a few more minutes.
- Erek Hansen had an ugly game. He shot 1-7 and only grabbed two rebounds. Sure, he also had his token 5 blocks, but a few of them went out of bounds and right back to Laval, so they didn't matter much. What mattered was that he couldn't keep his guy off the glass. You could hear Alford bark at Hansen more than once to block out, and he kept the big man's minutes down to 18. Alford spoke briefly on the radio after the game, and one thing he mentioned was the slow starts the team has gotten off to in the first two exhibition games. He hinted that the lineup might get shaken up to get a better team out there early on. Hmmm, team starts slowly, center rebounds poorly. . . . how could we remedy this situation? Why not kill two birds with one stone and start. . . .
- Doug Thomas? I don't know if I expect this to happen, but I know I like the team better when he's on the floor. I don't usually give credit for intangibles, but this guy infuses the lineup with energy every time he steps onto the court. The crowd seemed to love the alley-oop he caught from Jeff Horner.
- Horner had a decent game himself. He scored 11 points and had seven assists for the second straight game. Alford lamented the fact that Horner hasn't been to the line yet. Of course it would be nice if he got there (and could put his 86 FT% to good use) but he's doing a good job so far of finding other guys who can score.
- Another solid game today from Reed. He knocked down three treys without missing any. If you count the B&G Blowout, he's now 8-12 from downtown in three games. Alford commented that he's been the team's most solid newcomer so far. He's especially been impressed with Carlton's consistency, in games and in practice.
- Carver-Hawkeye was empty today. They announced a crowd of 8,000+, but there was maybe half that. I was one of the first students there and sat in about the 5th row, and there were plenty of seats open in front of me for the entire game. I hope attendance picks up as this team gets a few wins.
- Pierre Pierce was his usual self today, scoring in bunchs in a performance that included flashy moves, a couple ill-advised shots, too many turnovers, and a poor day at the free throw line. I'm usually a little critical of Pierce, but hey, he still led the team with 23 points. There were two times that he got a steal in the backcourt with no teammates nearby, but decided to attack Laval 1-on-3 anyway. He somehow made it work. The first time, he used a nifty behind the back dribble to evade a couple guys and hit a layup; the other time he got bailed out with a questionable blocking foul.
- Pierce shot 8-13 from the line, and the team as a whole didn't do much better, going 24-36. Iowa needs to improve here if they expect to win those close games come conference time.
- Oh, almost forgot Greg Brunner. He had another solid game, finishing with 11 rebounds and 13 points in only 27 minutes. He missed a couple shots in close but sill shot 6-10.
- Seth Gorney made his debut but only played one minute.
Almost Game Time
Iowa plays its last exhibition game at 2:05 this afternoon. Laval University comes here from Quebec to challenge the Hawkeyes. Laval doesn't have any starters over 6'7", so maybe Iowa will try to work the ball inside today and see what the big guys can do. I'd like to see Hansen get a few more touches today, just to see if he's a viable option offensively. I can't say I know anything else about Laval, but stop back after the game and I'll have a wrap-up of the game and all the big Hawkeye performances.