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Sunday, March 20, 2005
 
Cincinnati 76, Iowa 64
Just wanted to let you know that I am indeed back in Iowa City, despite the absence suggested by my recent lack of posts. I'm usually at a loss for writing topics following Iowa losses, and Thursday's season-ender is no different.

Against Cincinnati, Iowa did a decent job in most facets of the game except that which matters most - putting the ball in the basket. The initial reaction was that Iowa did a horrible job on offense, based mainly on the team's 34% shooting, but I don't entirely agree with that. They did enough little things to bring the overall offensive performance to average, but Cincinnati's offense was exceptional (or Iowa's defense was very poor, take your pick).

This game had roughly 64 possessions, and Iowa scored 64 points, for an easy-to-calculate 100 offensive rating. Not great, certainly, but not bad either. They achieved that rating with great rebounding, decent free throw shooting, and by hanging onto the basketball.

Led by strong efforts from Greg Brunner (again) and Doug Thomas (again), Iowa pulled in 16 offensive rebounds to Cincy's 27 defensive boards, meaning Iowa rebounded 37% of their misses, which is about what Michigan State averaged while leading the Big Ten in offensive rebounding. Thomas led the way with 5 offensive rebounds in just 23 minutes, while Brunner chipped in 4 of his own. Iowa made 19 free throws compared to 59 field goal attempts, a 0.322 ratio that bettered Indiana's Big Ten-leading mark. Finally, the Hawks turned the ball over 11 times, or on about 17% of their possessions, a rate that would've placed them second in the Big Ten behind Illinois (who just happened to finish third in the country in turnover rate).

Excellence in three of Dean Oliver's Four Factors will be enough to win most games, unless you struggle mightily at the most important skill - shooting (or play poor defense, of course). Iowa's 38% adjFG% was downright woeful (and to continue the pattern - a team shooting that poorly for a season would've been easily outdistanced by Penn State). When your most consistent scorer barely breaks 40% for the game, but still leads the team, you better be playing some lock-down defense if you want a chance to win. Brunner hit just 7 of 17 shots, while Jeff Horner and always-efficient Adam Haluska each struggled their way to 4-13 shooting nights. Mike Henderson's repeated attempts to shoot in the lane were repeatedly thwarted by Jason Maxiell, and Iowa's recently added scoring option made just 1 of 8 attemtps. Brutal.

Defensively, Iowa did an excellent job of keeping Cincy off the offensive glass, but little else. The Bearcats managed just 9 offensive rebounds to Iowa's 27 defensive, or a 25% rate. Cincinnati fell well below their season average of 39%, which was one of the top 35 rates in the country. Brunner and Thomas were big contributors to the rebounding effort, but Horner, Haluska, and even Erek Hansen got their hands on 4 defensive rebounds.

Iowa didn't give up a ton of free throws, which I was worried they would, but Cincy's offense made their shots and didn't turn the ball over, which is usually enough to overcome any rebounding shortcomings. I can't say I fault Iowa's defensive strategy, or even their effort. They played back and forced Cincinnati to shoot from the outside, which seemed like a good idea against a team without a 40% 3-point shooter. It just plain backfired when every Cincy player decided he was a shooter.

Here's how Cincy's guys shot their threes coming into the game, and how they shot on Thursday.

Player............................3pt%, (season)................3ptM-3ptA, (Thur)
James White.......................0.386......................................2-5
Armein Kirkland...................0.373......................................1-2
Nick Williams.......................0.370......................................3-5
Jihad Muhammed................0.353......................................1-3
Jason Maxiell.......................0.000......................................2-2

When the opponent's center knocks down his first two threes of the season, it's a good sign that it's just not your day.

In summary, Iowa played OK on offense (but not terribly, as you may have read elsewhere), but their strengths were not enough to overcome their awful shooting, or let alone the hot hands that made an appearance on Cincinnati's roster.

Now What?
Now that Iowa's basketball season is over, you might wonder what might possibly be written about at Hawkeye Hoops. Well, I'm not exactly sure myself. I plan to enjoy the ongoing NCAA Tournament for the next couple weeks, and comment on a few of the games/matchups I find interesting. After that, I'll probably write some kind of season in review, and a little later, I'll look ahead to next season. But in-between and after, I don't quite know what will fill this space. I'm open to suggestions regarding any ideas you'd like to read about here.
Comments:
Hello-

Hello, I'm a huge hawkeye fan, and I attended all of the games this season. Me and my friends were actually the ones who coined the term "Thunder Doug" during this season. Anyways, i'm a frequent to this site. I would like to hear a lot about Iowa's incoming recruits for next year including Tony Freeman, the guy from Canada, and the guy transfering from the Texas community college ( i forget their names!). I think it will be intersting because it seems like iowa will be deep next year if we get all these great recruits. Is Tony Freeman supposed to be really good? It seems as if he is going to get a substantial ammount of playing time, so it seems like he would have to be good! I would love to see posts about these type of things! Thanks....
Fellow Hawk Fan-
Kevin Foley
 
Thanks for checking in, Kevin. I'll certainly pass along any info I discover about Tony Freeman, Nathan Skinner (the guy from Canada), and Kurt Looby (the guy from the Tyler, TX juco), but I don't exactly have any inside info, so whatever I post here will basically be linking to something I read somewhere else. I'll do what I can though. Good job with the Thunder Doug name! I think the official mission of Hawkeye Hoops next year might be to get him more playing time. Heh.
 
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