IOWA CITY, Iowa — After consecutive poor performances right after the opening tip, Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery is considering making changes to his starting lineup.
The Hawkeyes (11-9, 3-4 Big Ten) fell behind Maryland 8-0 last Thursday at home. At Northwestern, Iowa trailed 10-2.
Iowa mounted an impressive second-half comeback against the Terrapins and took the lead before falling 84-76. But the early issues plagued the Hawkeyes in the final outcome. Iowa missed its first five shots, committed two fouls and had three turnovers before scoring a point.
“I think our offense was bad,” McCaffery said. “It was one pass shot, one pass turnover, two passes turnover, one pass bad shot. You can’t attack a team with the speed, quickness and size that a team like Maryland has and think you’re going to score on one pass. It doesn’t work that way.
“You’ve got to move the ball, whether we’re running motion or sets. We started in motion. Obviously we need to get the ball swung and drive and kick and post feed in and out. We talked about it, and we didn’t do it.”
McCaffery recognizes a danger to forcing extra passes, however. With a 30-second shot clock, good jump shots come sparsely during a possession. An extra pass sometimes means a better shot, but not in every situation.
“I encourage my guys to shoot the ball and be confident in doing so,” McCaffery said. “I don’t necessarily worry about how early in the clock it is. I don’t want Pete (Jok) thinking, ‘Well, coach wanted me to pass it four more times before we shoot.’ No, Pete you shoot it when you want. I put (Jordan) Bohannon in the same category. Those guys are good shooters, but they might only be open one time a possession because teams are trying to make sure that they’re not open anytime in a possession.
“It’s OK to pull (a shot), but do we need to do it five straight times and knowing we’re on the wrong end of this thing? We’re shooting it quick and they’re scoring. It’s 8-0 but it could have been 12 because they missed a couple of shots.”
It was similar at Northwestern on Jan. 15. After falling behind early, the Hawkeyes closed the gap to 25-22 midway through in the first half against the Wildcats but eventually were blown out 89-54.
That’s why starting lineup changes are possible. The backcourt of Jok and Bohannon won’t change, but Ryan Kriener and Nicholas Baer came off the bench early against Maryland. McCaffery said he has not made a final decision on possible changes.
Jok has been hampered by back spasms the past few games but his condition has improved, McCaffery said. Jok leads the Big Ten in scoring at 21.6 points per game.
“Obviously he’s hitting it hard with treatment, and we gave him the rest that he needed,” McCaffery said. “But he’s feeling a lot better and those days off came at a real good time for him.”
The Hawkeyes travel to Illinois (12-8, 2-5) on Wednesday.