IOWA CITY, Iowa — More than anything, Iowa men’s basketball needs a win.
And the easiest path to snapping the five-game losing streak to open Big Ten play is by getting its offense back on track.
This likely isn’t a popular sentiment, especially for those who watched the 91-73 loss to Maryland on Sunday, but the easiest path to a win comes with putting the basketball through the hoop.
Yes, Iowa allowed too many easy buckets around the rim and the Terrapins shot 56.7 percent. But the game was tied at 61 with 11:18 to go. The Hawkeyes only scored 12 points the rest of the game. It’s nearly impossible to win with that kind of offensive production.
It’s a reminder that the short-term answer to a victory lies with the offense. Iowa’s KenPom adjusted offensive and defensive ratings from this year and last year back up this point .
|Year||Adjusted O figure||Rank||Adjusted D figure||Rank|
The defensive numbers are essentially the same, only the ranking is different. The adjusted defensive metric, which strips out pace from the equation and figures out how many points a team would allow in 100 possessions, is nearly identical.
Improving Iowa’s defense is a worthwhile conversation. Frankly, it’s one that needs to occur if the discussion involves Iowa, it’s long-term future and getting back into the NCAA Tournament. But right now, Iowa just needs a win.
The numbers confirm the offense took a slight dip back this year. It’s a reason why the Hawkeyes are 9-8 and effectively out of the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament races on Jan. 8.
Last season, the Hawkeyes were 10-7 overall and 2-2 in league play on Jan. 8. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the current situation.
Iowa is built to win with its offensive play. That’s not going to change the rest of the season and it’s why focusing so much on the defense or slowing down the pace of play as a vehicle to turn the season around is unlikely to work. It keeps the team’s best weapon from picking up a win in its holster during a dual. That’s usually not an optimal strategy.
There are three things Iowa can do offensively to help turn things around and, in the process, pick up the first league win of the season.
1. Remember how the team plays best
That happens when Iowa gets out and runs. The players play their best in this type of contest. There is a reason Iowa is 9-2 when it scores 80 or more points. The Hawkeyes need to push the pace whenever possible.
2. Value the basketball
Turnovers are a major problem and it’s been that way all season. Iowa has averaged 15.4 turnovers in its 8 losses. When the Hawkeyes protect the basketball, committing 12 turnovers or less, they are 5-1. The lack of point guard depth only highlights this issue.
3. Secondary support
Forward Tyler Cook is playing the part of the star. Even with a 7-point game against Maryland, he’s averaging 17.7 points over his last 7 games. The rest of the offense isn’t as consistent. More is needed from the secondary scoring options, players like guard Isaiah Moss and forward Nicholas Baer, who both played well at Maryland.
Guard Jordan Bohannon committed 5 turnovers at Maryland, but entered the day with a 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio in his six previous games.
Cook and Bohannon need help, especially Bohannon. A second consistent perimeter scoring option could open him up to do more in the combo guard role where he thrives.