Reasons for Iowa’s extreme year-over-year drop in men’s basketball

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ANSWER: There are multiple factors. Some are tangible and others are not.

First, let’s look at the departures. Guard Peter Jok was the Big Ten’s leading scorer. While he wasn’t known as a great defender, he came up with 34 steals last year and had 40 as a junior in 2015-16. Another guard, Christian Williams, had 26 steals.

The Hawkeyes (12-18, 3-14 Big Ten) finished with 252 steals in 2016-17. This year, Iowa has only 159. That’s about 90 possessions they’ve been unable to flip this year. That leads to surrendering more points. In Big Ten play, Iowa’s opponents average 83.8 points per game this year. Last season it was 77.9, which wasn’t good, either. Two years ago Iowa gave up 69.3 points per game and just 63.8 in 2014-15. So Iowa gives up 20 points more per Big Ten game this year than in 2014-15.

Iowa’s scoring hasn’t changed much from last season when it averaged 80.5 points overall and 77.0 in Big Ten action. This year it’s 79.5 and 76.0. Iowa averages about 2.3 fewer shots per game than last season. Turnovers are down a tad but way too high at 13.3 per game. The overall shooting percentage of 48.1 is the highest since 1988-89 (51.7 percent). It’s a wasted statistic this year.

As far as the intangibles go, a few players are not good on-ball defenders, and a few others appear to lose focus in half-court situations. On offense, losing Jok has hurt. He allowed the team to space the floor because every opponent had eyes on him. That enabled more open looks for Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss, Brady Ellingson and other back-court players. Now, opponents really hammer at Bohannon, and the rest of the motion offense looks paralyzed at times. That leads to bad, desperate or even selfish shots.

Overall, a dip in defensive fundamentals, attention to detail on offense and good team basketball is a major culprit in the why Iowa is headed for one of its worst seasons in school history. If the defense doesn’t improve, it won’t get much better next year, either.

Read more Question of the Day answers about the Iowa Hawkeyes here.

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