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Sunday, January 02, 2005
Iowa 67, St. Louis 58
Iowa extended its winning streak to nine games by beating St. Louis on New Year's Eve. A bigger victory against a team this far down in the rankings would have been nice, but Hawk fans will just have to settle for another victory as the team gears up for Big Ten play.

This was another game I completely missed during my Oregon vacation, so I suggest reading the Big Ten Wonk's thoughts on the game. He calls attention to Iowa's deficiencies, specifically rebounding, post defense, and shot selection.

Rebounding and post defense are primarily the responsibilities of Greg Brunner, Erek Hansen, Doug Thomas, and Alex Thompson. Brunner and Hansen take most of the minutes, with Thomas backing up and Thompson getting occasional minutes.

Brunner - 28.9 mpg
Hansen - 24.5
Thomas - 14.9
Thompson - 8.9

Brunner and Thomas have certainly gotten the job done on the glass. Brunner is 4th in the Big Ten with 7.6 rebounds per game, and has picked it up of late, with 52 boards in his last 5 games. Thomas has gone to the glass aggressively and leads the team with 12.2 reb/40 min. These two have a lot of slack to pick up, as Thompson and especially Hansen have been weak rebounders. The rest of the team -

Thomas - 12.2 reb / 40 min
Brunner - 10.5
Thompson - 7.5
Hansen - 5.6

5.6 rebounds per full game (40 minutes) for a starting Big Ten center is anemic, by the way. So the verdict on Iowa's rebounding is mixed. Brunner does the job well, as does Thomas, although Doug doesn't play all that much, especially in key situations. Hansen starts and does basically nothing to help the team rebound, and Thompson's playing time makes his contribution close to irrelevant.

John (the Wonk) singles out Brunner for his poor defense. I don't know about Greg individually, but Iowa's interior defense as a whole has been subpar, as mentioned from time to time on this blog. Take a look back at the games some post players have had against Iowa.

Ian Vouyoukas, St. Louis - 11 reb, 7 off (in just 16 min)
David Berghoefer, W. Carolina - 18 pts, 11 reb
Jared Homan, Iowa State - 25 pts, 11 reb
Eric Coleman, N. Iowa - 16 pts, 11 reb
Ronnie Burrell - UNC-G'boro - 9 pts, 13 reb
Chad Maclies - Centenary - 21 pts, 6 reb
Aliou Keita, Drake - 23 pts, 7 reb
Sean May, UNC - 16 pts, 6 reb (26 min)
Brad Buckman, Texas - 18 pts, 11 reb
Ellis Myles, Louisville - 12 pts, 8 reb (22 min)

If Iowa has shown any obvious weakness defensively, it has been an inability to stop opposing big men.

Finally, John points to Pierre Pierce's poor shot selection, a phenomenon he and I have written much about all season. I haven't seen the last two games, but just checked the box scores, and I might have to cut back on my Pierce criticism for now. Pierce shot 42.7% from the field in Iowa's first 9 games, frequently irritating me along the way, but he is shooting 60.7% over the last 4 games and has led the team in scoring in 3 of those.

As for the knocks on Iowa firing up threes immediately down the floor - I never like to see it from Pierce, but I welcome it from Adam Haluska and Jeff Horner. Haluska has settled into a groove and is shooting 53% from downtown over the last 7 games, and Horner is, well, Horner. He's hit 50.7% of his threes this year and has 5 games with at least 4 threes made. If Haluska or Horner has an open look from three before all the rebounders are in place, I'm still comfortable with them taking the shot.

That's it for today. I should be back in Iowa mid-week and will have a recap of the Michigan game to restart my regularly-scheduled posting.

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