Fran McCaffery enters his second season as Iowa’s head basketball coach with at least three things going for him.
1. More experience;
2. More talent;
3. More depth.
The Hawkeyes have six players that started last year, including senior guards Matt Gatens (6-5, 215) and Bryce Cartwright (6-1, 188).
Matt is one of the best free throw shooters ever to play at Iowa, and Bryce, who didn’t even start the first couple of games, led the Big Ten in assists.
“We have a few more bodies and we have got some length, not only at the post but on the wing and we have some experienced guards,” said coach Fran during media day last Thursday, Oct. 13.
Also back for Iowa are junior Eric May (6-5, 217) and sophomore Devyn Marble (6-6, 194). Both can play the two or three position and both can create their own shots.
Eric started 25 times last year and coach McCaffery said he has really improved over the off-season.
Devyn played in every game and started six. He is the back-up point guard.
“I feel a lot more comfortable and a lot more confident,” said Devyn. “Last year, we had a new system and this year everybody’s grasping it a lot better.”
Sophomore Melsahn Basabe (6-7, 234) burst on the scene last year and set an Iowa freshman record with 210 rebounds. Mel started every game and scored in double-figures 17 times.
Zach McCabe (6-7, 232) also a sophomore, is back bigger and stronger. He played in every game last year, starting two.
Zach will be playing the four spot (power forward) and is looking forward to the challenge.
“It will open up and give me a little bit more opportunities and create more mismatches,” said Zach. “I’m pretty excited and I need to stay confident.”
The Hawks have two senior centers that will be competing for playing time.
Andrew Brommer at 6-9, 247, has the size to play the post in the Big Ten. He showed flashes of good play last year, but needs to get more consistent.
“It’s good to go against good competition every single day and it makes everybody better,” said Andrew.
Devon Archie (6-9, 222) is very athletic but like Andrew, needs consistency.
“Defense and rebounding is what coach wants me to do,” said Devon. “His trust level in me and my capabilities are starting to come.”
Iowa has three freshman who will add skill and depth starting with shooting guard Josh Oglesby (6-5, 185) from Cedar Rapids leading the way.
Josh is a great outside shooter and can handle the ball.
Aaron White (6-8, 225) showed some good range this summer in Prime Time and can take it inside.
“The summer league was a good experience and a chance to play with some of my teammates,” said Aaron. “I’m ready for the season and looking forward to it. We have the talent and we need to execute it on the floor.”
Gabe Olaseni (6-10, 225) comes in as a good shot blocker but has work to do on the offensive end.
Redshirt freshman Darius Stokes (6-7, 203) has bulked up and should add some depth in the frontcourt.
“I try to bring it every day and just make everybody better, Melsahn especially,” said Darius about his redshirt year. “He’s going to be a special player. I’m just trying to help him improve every day.”
The pieces are starting to fall in place.
I wish Iowa had another true point guard but I think Devyn can handle five to six minutes a game at point.
I’m looking for Eric May and Zach McCabe to have big years.
Bryce and Matt are the glue that holds this team together, and if the Hawks can get some solid production at the center position, they should have a winning season.