3 areas where Iowa basketball must improve before next season
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@ScottDochterman Question for next week:
Assuming this year is a wash, you are the coach, what three things would you do to improve the team before next season starts?
— Mike Musel (@BrotherMichael7) February 1, 2018
ANSWER: There are plenty of issues to correct with this team, some of it personnel based and some of it’s based perhaps on fundamentals.
First of all, Iowa needs to improve drastically on defense. In Big Ten play, the Hawkeyes allow 84.4 points a game. Since 1995, only Rutgers (86.1 in 2016) has been worse. Iowa struggles to stop the ball at the point of attack. That’s the primary issue on defense. If the Hawkeyes can find a way to consistently slow penetration, whether that’s in man or 2-3 zone, then they can more diligently counter other action on defense. That includes better help defense, becoming more attentive to perimeter shooters and not getting fooled constantly on the weak side in the post.
But if the offense struggles, the defense goes from subpar to poor very quickly, especially in transition situations.
“I do think there’s a tendency to maybe drop off a little bit,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “When we get sideways, whether it be with an offense that’s sputtering or some live-ball turnovers, it seems to snowball.”
Secondly, Iowa needs more consistency from its 2-guard. Sophomore Isaiah Moss averages 10.7 points per game. Sometimes he’s one of the best players on the floor. Other times, you’re not sure if he’s even out there. It’s the same with sophomore Maishe Dailey. In Iowa’s 12 wins, Dailey and Moss have combined to average 20 points a game. In 11 of those 12 wins, they’ve totaled at least 14 points. In the Hawkeyes’ 15 losses, they combine to average just 12.7 points a game. Only five of those 15 losses have they combined for more than 14 points.
McCaffery understands both players are crucial to Iowa’s success.
“I just keep trying to stay positive with [Moss], keep encouraging him to shoot the ball, attack the rim, be aggressive,” McCaffery said. “We’re a better team when he plays that way. He puts pressure on himself, sometimes I try to take it off him. I just keep encouraging and continuing to be positive. because I think he’s a really good player.
“[Dailey] comes in and wants to score. I want him to score. I want him shoot it. He’s a really shooter. We need him to be aggressive attacking the basket.”
Third, and perhaps most important, Iowa’s players need to enjoy the game. Sometimes they look like they’re having fun, other times it looks like a joyless experience. Obviously that’s a product of a long season, not reaching goals or having success. But the more the coaching staff can help the players improve in a positive way, the better they will play.
“It becomes a negative grind if we make it that way as coaches,” McCaffery said.
Read more Question of the Day answers about the Iowa Hawkeyes here.