IOWA CITY, Ia. – Fran McCaffery’s first two Iowa basketball teams made steady improvement throughout the season.
His third team is playing better than the first two on the defensive end. But the offense continues to spin in neutral. Better offensive efficiency is one of the things McCaffery will be looking for when his team plays at No. 23 Minnesota Sunday and at Wisconsin Wednesday.
“What we need to do is play a little bit better offensively,” said McCaffery, whose team is 3-5 in the Big Ten and 14-7 overall. “That’s been a little bit of a struggle for us. We hit some more jumpers (Thursday against Penn State), that’s good to see. But our execution is still a little bit off. It’s closer. We’re working on it. They’re trying, but it’s got to be better.”
Screening, spacing the floor and movement without the ball are things that need to get better if Iowa is to become more consistent and effective on the offensive end of the floor.
“When you’re running offense, it’s five guys working in unison, looking for certain things depending on how (the opposition) is playing it, making the right reads, when to drive it, don’t drive it, whatever,” McCaffery said.
Iowa’s offense is especially stagnant in the half-court game. Stop the Hawkeyes at their strength, transition offense, and they become very average.
Iowa is a team without a go-to guy right now. Devyn Marble has str
uggled since injuring his left ankle and toe in practice before the Michigan State game Jan. 10. He’s averaged just 9.8 points since the injury. Marble has made just seven of 31 field-goal attempts in the last three games, including 2-for-13 shooting from 3.
Aaron White is coming off a career-high 27 points in the 76-67 victory over Penn State Thursday. White is working on his 3-point shooting and scoring off the dribble, but he remains most dangerous in transition.
And 3-point shooting is the dinosaur in the room. Iowa was 5-for-21 against Penn State, dropping its percentage in Big Ten games to 26.7 percent. Josh Oglesby, the team’s best shooter, was just one-for-five against the Nittany Lions.
“I thought every one of those was going in,” McCaffery said. “He made eight in practice yesterday. Eight. I feel so bad because the first one looked good. When he drilled the second one, I thought he was on his way. Then I feel bad because every time I take him out, it puts pressure on him.”
Iowa is fifth in the Big Ten in scoring at 66.5 points a game. That is under last season’s 67.8 mark, even though the team has increased its average field-goal attempts per game in Big Ten play from 52.2 to 57.8, its 3-point attempts from 14.5 to 16.9 and its free-throw attempts from 14.5 to 23.
If Iowa’s half-court efficiency doesn’t improve rapidly, the NIT will be the most logical post-season landing spot. Minnesota is one of few remaining teams on the schedule that offers the opportunity for an NCAA resume enhancer. Iowa hosts the Gophers Feb. 17 and also has a game at No. 3 Indiana March 2.
Asked if his team, 0-4 against rated teams, is lacking a signature win, White said, “I think you’re asking the wrong guy, to be honest with you. I don’t really look at resumes and stuff like that. I look at it as we beat Wisconsin, probably a tournament team, and Iowa State, probably a tournament team. We’ve still got 10 games and a Big Ten Tournament to play. Plenty of time to get more wins.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball