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Iowa forwards Ahmad Wagner and Tyler Cook celebrate a 2016-17 victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Why Iowa basketball needs to use depth to its advantage

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Normally I would agree that Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery needs to trim to the rotation to eight, maybe nine players, and allow them to grow together and form better on-court chemistry. The problem is, there’s no separation between those who are effective and those who are in the next tier.

Outside of guard Jordan Bohannon, forward Tyler Cook and forward Nicholas Baer, there’s no real consistency among the others. Sophomore guard Isaiah Moss has started 44 games and has shown potential to become one of the Big Ten’s better guards. Other times he disappears. Guard Maishe Dailey is still finding his way and also playing backup point guard, and McCaffery has trimmed shooting guard Brady Ellingson’s minutes.

In the post, there’s little difference in talent level — although they all do some things better than others — in Cordell Pemsl, Ahmad Wagner, Ryan Kriener and Jack Nunge. Luka Garza is the one true center Iowa has, but he’s been in and out of the starting lineup this season. If McCaffery trimmed out Kriener, you’re losing a tough-minded rebounder who can shoot from 15 feet. Nunge might have the best range and upside of the group. Pemsl is skilled and led the Big Ten in shooting percentage last year. Wagner is the best athlete.

If one or two players were held back by their lack of minutes, then I’d suggest changes. But until there’s some organic separation, there’s no easy way to make it happen, especially with a struggling team.

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