The best way to start your day is right here at Landof10.com as we prepare you for everything you need to know about Iowa sports. We’ll share our Hawkeyes Wake-Up Call here with you at 8:30 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.
So let’s get to it. Here is your Wake-Up Call for Friday, Nov. 11.
Bring on Iowa basketball
Good news. College basketball is officially here. Iowa men’s basketball opens the season by hosting Kennesaw State at 9:35 p.m. ET tonight on BTN-Plus.
Soon enough, America will be consumed with brackets, buzzer-beating Cinderellas and net cutting in March and April. But for now, it’s all about the Owls, and here are two things to know about the Hawkeyes’ first opponent:
First, former Boston College Al Skinner leads the program. He has 396 career wins and was twice named the Big East Coach of the Year, in 2001 and 2005. He earned national coach of the year honors for Boston’s College’s 27-5 season in 2001, when the Eagles won the conference regular season and tournament, earning a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“Knows what he is doing,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “They run really good offense. They compete. They are athletic.”
Second, senior G Kendrick Ray, the reigning Atlantic Sun Newcomer of the Year, is the one Owl to keep an eye on. He averaged 18.7 points and 5.6 rebounds last season. Any chance for the Kennesaw State upset starts with Ray lighting up Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Owls won 11 games last season and are ranked No. 306 in the preseason Kenpom.com rankings. Iowa — sitting No. 55 in those same rankings — is gently wading into the season. That’s the norm across the country for a young team.
This opener is more about seeing what Iowa does than stacking them up against the opponent.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) released its latest 2017 NFL draft big board on Thursday, and Iowa CB Desmond King is ranked No. 4.
That’s the highest rating for King to this point. The chance King gets drafted in the first round is high as he shows excellent coverage skills, is a good returner and is consistent in his play.
The consistency is likely a key factor in why PFF ranks King so high.
PFF provides stats to a large portion of the NFL. Some rely on the information more than others, but if King goes higher than expected — right now the top 15 would qualify — odds are it’s to a team that highly values the kind of analytics PFF provides and views football through the same lens as the folks at PFF.
Ranked where? (Part II)
PFF shocked Iowa fans last month by ranking the Hawkeyes as the No. 1 offensive line in the country. The latest ranking is probably more along the lines of what fans expected — Iowa is longer in the top 10.
The numbers and the eye test now match up. The offensive line play is inconsistent. There is no doubt injuries factor into it, but if Iowa is to close the season strong it will need more consistency from the blockers up front.
What’s next for Wadley in the slot?
The experiment of RB Akrum Wadley in the slot wasn’t a bust in its debut, but it wasn’t a success, either.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard offered some hope for the formation this week.
“There is definitely more you can do with Akrum,” Beathard said. “He is a talented guy. He has great feet and good vision and good hands. We’ll see, but we used it a few times in the last time, but depends on how the game is playing out.”
Beathard is right. There is more Iowa can do with it, namely pass the ball with Wadley in the slot. Beathard is also right in that the way the Penn State game played out impacted how often the Hawkeyes used the new look. There was no need to use it with the game decided in the fourth quarter.
But Iowa still needs to pass out of the look. It can’t just be a formation for Wadley to run jet sweeps.
Lots of links
- Defining what a good end to the season would be for Iowa wide receiver Jerminic Smith.
- Iowa men’s basketball player Peter Jok is on the Naismith Trophy watch list.
- Breaking down Iowa men’s basketball on the verge of the opener.
- Mike Hlas, of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, ties Iowa, Michigan, Taco Bell and the Grateful Dead together.
- Why Beathard needs to fear the Michigan pass rush, by Mark Emmert of the Des Moines Register.
- Former Iowa basketball player Adam Woodbury is out with a back injury in the NBA D-League, according to Justin Cohn of the Journal Gazette.