Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon uses Steph Curry as example (and not in way you think)

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The comparisons between Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon and NBA star Steph Curry were flowing freely after the latest white-knuckle Hawkeye victory.

Bohannon again proved himself to be the brassiest shooter in the Big Ten Conference, knocking down five 3-pointers late to engineer a 76-70 overtime win against Indiana on Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

His coach, Fran McCaffery, said he’s always seen a little bit of Curry in Bohannon.

“What I mean was that he has that quick trigger. Steph Curry pulls right in your face, and that’s what Jordan does,” McCaffery explained. “And everybody’s like, ‘He’s not like Steph.’ But he kind of is with those shots and his ability to make those shots look easy.”

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon (3) high-fives fans after a NCAA Big Ten Conference men's basketball game on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

But Bohannon said it was a less obvious lesson he learned from Curry that provided motivation for him at halftime Friday. That was when Bohannon looked at a stat sheet and saw with some alarm that his plus-minus rating was on the negative side. As in minus-11. This was in a game tied 28-28.

“Maybe I should stop playing basketball for a while,” Bohannon joked when asked what his reaction was to that statistic.

“It’s very jarring. It made me doubt my abilities for a second.”

Bohannon said he always checks his plus-minus number after seeing a video of Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr approaching Curry during what the player considered a poor game. Kerr pointed to a plus-20 rating for Curry and said: “You might not be making things happen that are showing up in the stat sheet, but when you’re on the floor, the team’s flowing really well.”

“So that’s something I’ve always looked to, knowing if I want to be on the court, I want to have a positive plus-minus,” Bohannon concluded.

No Hawkeye was a bigger “plus” when the game was on the line.

Bohannon, who was scoreless in the first half, nailed a contested 3-pointer to force overtime. Then he made three more in the extra session. This was after his last-second 3 gave Iowa a victory over Northwestern in recent weeks.

“I knew I had to start making some stuff happen, and I was able to do that,” Bohannon said matter-of-factly.

“I always pride myself in being confident. I hit my first 3, put it in overtime and I want to continue to have the ball in my hands and try to make plays happen.”

Bohannon’s teammate, Tyler Cook, appreciated the Curry comparison.

“They shoot from their houses, basically,” Cook said. “They make big-time shots.”

Bohannon has made 20 of 39 3-pointers in Iowa’s past six games. The Hawkeyes have won five of them.

His final rating for Friday’s game was minus-7. But Bohannon knows better. He was the main reason Iowa won.

Garza gets his mind right

Iowa center Luka Garza had scored only 16 points in the four games before Friday. He matched that total, adding nine rebounds, against Indiana.

“I knew right after the Maryland game I was going to bounce back,” Garza said. “I just knew that I couldn’t play any worse.”

Garza was despondent after a five-point effort in Tuesday’s 66-65 loss to the Terrapins. He was benched in that one for the final 15 minutes.

One by one, Iowa’s coaches sat Garza down this week and told him to stop thinking so much. The message resonated.

“I just needed to cut down that, not worry and just play in the moment,” he said.

Mission accomplished. Garza looked like the player who averaged 19.7 points in a seven-game stretch preceding his four-game rut.

Patient Cook comes up with big shots

Iowa forward Tyler Cook (25) talks with an official during a NCAA Big Ten Conference men's basketball game on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Iowa could never quite seize the lead in the second half Friday. It was Cook who frequently kept the Hawkeyes close, though.

Cook made three baskets late in regulation that pulled his team within a point or two of the lead, the last one a blind tip-in of a Bohannon pass that made the score 62-60.

Cook scored 13 of his 18 points after intermission.

“Teams switch up what they do on me individually pretty often. I just try to take my time in terms of seeing how they’re playing me, who’s open,” said Cook, who has scored 18 points or more 10 times this season. “A lot of times when I catch the ball in a stacked defense I’m not going to force a shot, so I try to make the right play.”

It was also Cook who kept Iowa close throughout a 77-72 win at Indiana on Feb. 7. He scored 21 points in that one before Bohannon stole the show late.

Sound familiar?