Coming in to the 2018-2019 season, I was cautiously optimistic. But why only cautiously optimistic? Simply put, this was a team that had been abysmal in the previous season. They didn’t just miss the tournament, they missed the NIT too. Breaking news, that’s not good.
So You’re Saying There’s a Chance
So why be optimistic? To start, Iowa had high hopes with freshman Joe Wieskamp coming in. I had the privilege of watching him at the high school level, and man was he special. I knew Joe was a good player, but until the first time I saw him play in person, I didn’t fully understand how great he truly was. The man was automatic from down town, played great defense, and hustled more than anyone on the court. I had a feeling Joe was going to be an instant impact player at Iowa, and boy was I right.
Iowa also had a great core of players coming back. Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook were entering their junior years, Luka Garza (who made huge improvements this year) had the looks to be a great big man for the next three years, and the role guys in my opinion were a perfect fit. So yeah, I was feeling somewhat optimistic about the season.
I was going to ask if you wanted the good or the bad first, but given that I can’t do that, here is the good.
Iowa had a great season if we are comparing it to what we saw in the year prior. Sure, we were never the top ten team in the country that everyone wanted when they saw us ranked in the top 20, but the truth is we were never going to be that team.
Why should this not bother you? Well I’m here to tell you that Iowa went 4-14 in the Big Ten (14-19 overall) in ’17-18 season. I will again repeat that the Hawkeyes missed not only the NCAA Tournament, but also the NIT. This season, Iowa improved to 10-10 in the Big Ten and 23-12 overall. Oh, and we made the NCAA Tournament as a #10 seed.
I know we want perfection as sports fans, and by all means there were moments when we all wanted to give up on this team, but it’s important to not get greedy. Iowa was nationally ranked in the top 25 for well over half of the season, and was competing with teams that would have blown them away one year ago. We saw major improvement, and this alone is a big win.
Judging by looking through social media after every bad shot, coaching decision or game, I know you guys probably have the bad covered. That said, I am going to briefly touch base here anyway.
It goes without saying that this team was extremely inconsistent. From beating Michigan by 16, to losing to that same Michigan team by 21 a few months later, you just never knew which Iowa team you were going to get on a nightly basis. This was on full display when Iowa lost five of their last six games in the regular season. If Iowa wants to become the team I know they can, they have to be far more consistent. That’s all the negativity you’ll here out of me.
I can’t go any farther than starting with the Iowa vs Michigan game. This was one of, if not the best all around game the Hawks played all year. It lead to Iowa beating the Wolverines by 16, and a well deserved storming of the court.
This wouldn’t be a complete article if I didn’t talk about some Jordan Bohannon heroics. In a game that featured Northwestern pounding Iowa for 35 of the 40 minutes, Iowa managed to come back from being down big late for one of the most memorable moments of the 2019 season.
Wiesy outta here! Boy oh boy, what an answered prayer for Joe Wieskamp and the boys. Down by one, three seconds left in the game. The game plan was without a doubt “Connor McCaffery baseball throw, deflection into Joe’s hand, and bank it off the backboard”, and man did they make it look beautiful!
Bring on 2019
If I was optimistic for this season, you better believe I’m ready for the ’19-20 season to start. Iowa is once again bringing back the core of Wieskamp, Cook, Bohannon and Garza.
Iowa will be gaining back redshirt Sophmore Jack Nunge, who I think will be a huge impact player. Nunge struggled at times during his freshman season, but he has the promise to be a big time player over the next three years. Iowa will have another father/son relationship next season as they welcome Patrick McCaffery to the squad. Patrick has a ton of hype around him, and it appears he will be an instant impact guy, whether it be from the bench or the starting lineup.
Successful Season and Trending Up
When it’s all said and done, it’s hard to say that this wasn’t a successful season for Iowa. Winning ten conference games, getting to the second round in the NCAA Tournament, and forcing a #2 seed to overtime to fall just short of the Sweet 16 isn’t too shabby for a team that missed the NIT last season. Get ready for Iowa to be back with some swagger next year.