Welcome to the 1st in our series of 2011-12 Big Ten Basketball Previews. We'll breakdown each of the 11 other teams as we near the start of the season ahead. In each preview you'll get a look at how the teams did in the previous year, who returns, who's new on board, some highlights in the non-conference schedule and a general outlook and prediction for the 2011-12 season. I hope you enjoy and let's start things off with our neighbors to the Southwest, the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Conf. Record: 4-14(10th place)
Head Coach: Fran McCaffery -2nd year at Iowa(11-20), 262-197 overall in 15 seasons
Returning Starters: 3
- Matt Gatens, senior, Forward (12.6ppg, 1.3spg, 1.8apg in 2010-11)
- Melshan Basabe, sophomore, Forward (11ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.3bpg)
- Bryce Cartwright, senior, Guard (10.9ppg, 5.8apg)
Newcomers: Kyle Denning (Fr.), Josh Oglesby (Fr.), and Aaron White (Fr.)
2010-11 wasn't exactly a picture perfect start to the McCaffery era, with Iowa losing 20+ games for the 2nd straight season, something it hasn't done EVER in program history. However, the "silver lining" on the season was that it played competitive bball all year, losing seven games by two possesions or less. Luckily McCaffery is building the blocks for a successful program in year two of his tenure in Iowa City. The program returns it's top 3 scorers from last year, who are all mentioned above. Leading the way is Matt Gatens, who is a great shooter and distributor of the ball for a big man and will be counted on to score in bunches once again during his final year for the Hawkeyes. Sophomore Melshan Basabe was a revelation in his freshman campaign, but the question remains can he do it even better now that everyone is well aware of what he can do. He was named to the Big Ten all-Freshman team and was an Honorable Mention all-Conference selection as well after last year. Underrated PG Bryce Cartwright is in his final season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and is also coming off of his own honorable mention all-conference pick, this time from the media.
Look for this version of the Hawkeyes to run the floor even more as they have a year in Fran McCaffery's system and also have 3 more of his style of players in the rotation. Speaking of which, you'll want to keep an eye out for freshman Josh Oglesby, a 6'5", 185lbs, guard out of Cedar Rapids, IA. If you remember McCaffery's Siena squads this player is that mold and then some. He's a pure sharp shooter and can knock it down from anywhere as well as having great court vision to pass the ball in the uptempo offense that McCaffery will be looking to run more this season. Another player to be on the look out for is sophomore Devyn Marble, who started 6 games in his freshman year, but has been drawing praise from the coaching staff all offseason for his work in the weight room and they gym. Look for his role to expand big time from his 5.7ppg average last year. Especially since the coaching staff believes he's got the skills to play any of the 3, 2, or 1 positions on the floor.
Non-Conference Schedule Highlights: vs. Creighton (11/20) -in Des Moines, IA; vs. Clemson (11/29) - part of B1G/ACC Challenge; @ Northern Iowa (12/06); @ Iowa State (12/09); vs. Drake (12/17)
- Overall Iowa has been smart with it's out of conference scheduling as it tries to build up some confidence before diving head first into the B1G waters as they will face the gauntlet of vs. Purdue, @ Wisconsin, @ Minnesota, vs. Ohio State, @ Michigan State, vs. Michigan, @ Purdue in their first 7 games to open conference play.
They'll be lucky to find 2 or 3 wins out of that 7 game hellish start to the conference season and will need to draw on their experience from out of conference to get through it. In the end I see this team finishing the year somewhere around the .500 mark overall. For a record and B1G finish you'll just have to tune in to the final article in the series as I give you my full season record and conference finishes for all 11 teams!!