Iowa basketball: Quick look back, awkward look forward

There were heights, there was the end and there will be a 2021-22

I hated doing the season ender, the wrap up. What old crap ball sportswriters like to call “the obit.”

I used to call it “season ender” because I thought obit sounded … having written a bunch of those for close family members, even old crap ball sportswriters have the feelz.

So, I for sure won’t call the seniors “departing.” We’ll call them seniors. Pretty wild, huh?

I’m not going to write the Titanic. You likely have filed whatever meaning you want to the seniors. Here are my thoughts.

Luka Garza — We love the self-made player here. Not that Garza didn’t have “it.” He was recruited by 28 schools (according to

Garza fought through developmental plateaus and just kept going up. It was hard work. Frank Garza took everyone on that journey during the last few summers.

Iowa basketball has had performers who push through the hard things and develop. Yeah, only one has pushed through to become the best center in the Big Ten in the last 50 years. (Please, don’t equate a professional basketball paycheck with college achievements. It’s not the same, although I will admit pro success can lift/edit college careers.)

For Iowa hoops to have that 22 ppg every night, I think we all might appreciate that next winter. That’s relentless. My Garza theme song — what I hear when he’s in the clench doing his thing — is The Pixies’ “Gouge Away.” It’s a compliment, trust me.

Jordan Bohannon — I called him the Fonzie of Iowa hoops on the last podcast. Immediately, I was lit up with “C’mon, use a reference that isn’t 35 years old.”

I did preface this will “old crap ball sportswriter.”

Here’s a better but unfortunately more obscure reference.

I’m guessing very few of you have seen the movie “Tigerland.” It stars Colin Farrell (this is 2000, so I think it’s his first film) in the role of Pvt. Roland Bozz. He hates the Army and authority. His special super power is an “X-ray vision for loopholes.” He finds ways for other soldiers to get out of the army. He hears their stories and really tries to help.

Of course, he becomes a squad leader. I think JBo is has some Pvt. Bozz in him and some of you don’t like him for it. There is a weird yin-yang at work. Anti-establishment fans dig him. I love the rebel nature. I just do. Here’s the standard tweet from his detractors: “Hey, love ya man, but just do the hoops thing.”

That’s the exact wrong thing to say to an activist type with a platform and a lot of people who agree with him. But I’m not here to officiate and tell people what their opinions should be. You do you. The dialogue I’ve had with people on JBo has been respectful. No one changes their mind.

JBo is too rebellious for some of you. For more of you, IMO, he makes too much sense.

I eagerly await his next venture. He’s interesting to me.

OK, let’s move on to the looking forward part. It will include “looking back.” Some of these guys have to be written in pencil. Not going to speculate on transfers, incoming or outgoing. I have no clue. You probably don’t, either.

1 — Joe Toussaint, right? In early February, he was an offensive trainwreck. At least once a game, he’d end up spinning himself into the floor and the second unit had a hard time sustaining.

It feels like to me, Toussaint (6-0, 190) and Fran McCaffery or an assistant had a long talk about taking care of the basketball and slowing down. I know, I don’t like telling guys to slow down either, but Joe T’s feet were ahead of his vision. He got synched up. He ran the offense. He let things come to him.

Ahron Ulis (6-3, 190) will be competition. He played 119 minutes compared to 350 for Toussaint. Maybe Tony Perkins (6-4, 210 and 147 minutes last season) fits in here, too.

I like the track Toussaint seems to be on. I think you can trust him for 30 minutes.

2 — The general consensus is Joe Wieskamp is pro bound. If he believes he’s ready, that’s the only green light he needs. He’s knocked on this door. Clearly, he’s interested and believes he belongs.

I don’t know. Is he strong enough to finish at the rim? He’s a good enough shooter. Can he be Kyle Korver (few can, read about his workout regimen sometime)? Korver is 6-7 and has $63 million in career earnings. If I’m Wieskamp, oh yeah, I want to explore that.

And, oh yeah, you want him back if you’re Iowa. He’s a centerpiece.

I kind of thought Peter Jok was going to leave early. There’s enough money in basketball.

C.J. Frederick, you’re up. Wait, you’re going to Kentucky? Kidding, kidding. Be careful what you read out there, but I’m kind of like you. Something like this would be plausible enough to make me nervous. I think his dad’s tie with McCaffery is key.

A healthy CJF (6-3) would be able to deal here. He can shoot and I like his athleticism and defense.

I think Perkins can compete here, but what I want to know is can Keegan Murray do it? I mean so far he’s taken every role McCaffery has thrown to him and thrived. I mention this knowing the coaching staff has a vision for him and knows what he can and can’t do. I don’t. At 6-8, can he penetrate? Is he a 3-point shooter. I’d love to know.

3 — Connor McCaffery, if he doesn’t officially count as the 2. Maybe, right? Surgeries on both hips is keeping me somewhat cautious. Hard to make an educated guess on his 2021-22.

FWIW, I think he wears the “coach’s kid” thing about as well as you can in basketball. There’s nowhere to hide and it’s something that comes up every time he misses a shot. No one will be talked out of their theories. Have you met the internet? I will say this, the team knows when a coach plays favorites. A team knows when someone better is on the bench. I’ve had this exact convo with Kirk Ferentz through the years (it wasn’t about his sons, it was the usual doubt and biases that people just carry naturally — I do that too). Have you heard anything in that regard? Of course, not official but in the ether of the messageboards and the Twitterverse? I haven’t. I admit, it’s not something I’ve looked for. My general rule of thumb is coaches do play their best players and if they don’t, their teams register their disgust. Let’s get over this. Obviously, two wrecked hips is going to throw a brick through a guy’s window. CM has value in defensive flexibility and feeding the post. Obviously, without Garza, how much will the 2021-22 Hawkeyes value a post feeder?

Is this Murray’s spot? It’s going to be the 2 or the 3. OK, maybe the 4 if they need him and it’s a stretch deal.

Patrick McCaffery will see time here and could win the minutes race. Maybe Kris Murray hits. Payton Sandfort (6-7) is going to come in with his hand up for minutes.

I seem to be stuffing a lot of bodies at the 3.

Is this the lineup — Patrick at the 3, Jack Nunge as a stretch 4 and Josh Ogundele at the 5? I want Patrick running and gunning. He’s 6-9, 200 and extremely quick off the floor. I think using him as a 4 would be a tough pull defensively.

4 — Jack Nunge (6-11) is my pick here. Let’s hope his recovery from a torn meniscus goes as planned. That is a lot more downtime than you think it is. Cartilage is trickier than a ligament (don’t listen to me, I’m just kinda guessing with the two scopes I’ve had done — which went “we don’t have that technology yet, old crap ball.”

Iowa for sure needs to work the transfer portal.

5 — Josh Ogundele (6-10, 285) is the name I’m going to put here. I’d love to see the kid take off. Maybe his body changes, but I’m not making any assumptions. We didn’t see enough to know if 6-10, 285 works for him.

Transfer portal would be good here, too. They need some big bodies.

I’m setting expectations at “potential tournament team.” They simply are losing a lot and do have a lot of questions and go into portal season with some real needs.

Marc Morehouse

22 years as the Iowa football beat writer for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Holy bleep, that's a long damn time. Now, I'm a podcaster/writer/pop cult guru at Yes, I wrote "guru," but I didn't mean it in a pretentious way. Sincere thanks for reading, listening and hopping on board!

Related Articles

Back to top button