McCaffery prepares his Hawkeyes as if Bohannon won't play this season

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Iowa point guard Jordan Bohannon has made recent progress in his recovery from hip surgery, but it still appears he could miss the 2019-20 season, Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery said Wednesday.

“He’s not playing, but he’s dribbling and shooting,” McCaffery said at the Big Ten Conference men’s basketball media day. “We’re trying not to put pressure on him in any way, shape or form. I want him to be able to play his senior year as pain-free as possible. So we're planning as if he's not playing.

“If he plays, we'll be thrilled that he is, and he'll be able to jump back in because of how good he is and because he's our senior leader.”

Bohannon, a three-year starter at Iowa, indicated this spring before having surgery that he wants to play one more entire season, and not come back in the middle of one. Iowa opens its season Nov. 8 against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Jordan Bohannon reacted to this 3-pointer against Tennessee in last year's NCAA Tournament. But it's uncertain if the Iowa point guard will be able to play this season after hip surgery this spring. Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery said Wednesday that he's preparing his team as if Bohannon will not be available for now.

McCaffery said there’s no timetable for when he wants to make a decision about whether Bohannon will play this year. In his absence, Iowa is looking at graduate transfer Bakari Evelyn, redshirt sophomore Connor McCaffery and true freshman Joe Toussaint as point guards.

“He’ll have the opportunity to play in some games if he wants to to see how he feels. If he has setbacks or can’t function, we’ll shut him down,” McCaffery said of Bohannon. “The surgery he had? He’ll get a medical redshirt.”

Cordell Pemsl suspended from practices

The Hawkeyes began fall practices Saturday without redshirt junior forward Cordell Pemsl. He is suspended from team activities after being arrested Sept. 20 in Iowa City for an OWI.

“He’s got some things to take care of,” McCaffery said of Pemsl.

McCaffery said he hasn’t yet decided the duration of Pemsl’s suspension, or whether he will miss some games.

Luka Garza puts on weight to get ready for Big Ten grind

Iowa junior center Luka Garza always enters his offseason with a detailed plan of how he wants to improve. This year, it started with his jump shot, which he said is at its best now.

Garza went home to Washington, D.C., in May and also added 10 pounds, bringing his weight to 260 on a 6-foot-11 frame.

Garza said he began last season in the low 240s and got as heavy as 250 pounds. He averaged 13.1 points and 4.5 rebounds while being named honorable mention all-Big Ten.

The additional size is particularly helpful on defense, Garza said.

“The improved strength has made me harder to move, harder to back in to, which is what I’m going to need, especially in this league full of big guys who like to get their shoulder in to you and be able to score,” Garza said.

Garza also worked on the offensive end to compensate for the absence of power forward Tyler Cook, who left early for the NBA. He anticipates he’s going to get more defensive attention.

“When I get the ball, just going quicker with my moves because now those double-teams are coming toward me,” Garza said.

Ryan Kriener wants to be an asset on the perimeter

The 3-point arc in college basketball is being moved back this season, to 22 feet, 1 ¾ inches. It had been 20 feet, 9 inches.

But that hasn’t deterred Hawkeye center Ryan Kriener, the lone senior on the roster if Bohannon doesn’t play, from working on being a bigger threat to shoot the long ball. But he showed a good shooting stroke in his AAU days and is confident he can bring that to the college game in his final year.

“It stresses the defense more,” Kriener said. “I can take the ‘5’ man away from the basket and have a ‘4’ man guard the other guy inside and we can go at a mismatch that way. Because most ‘4’ men in the league are 6-8ish and if we have a 6-8 guy guarding Luka Garza or Jack Nunge, they’re going to go to work on them.”

Kriener envisions a Hawkeye team putting four shooters around the arc and letting McCaffery or Toussaint go to work in isolation.

“If we surround Connor and Joe with shooters, when they get downhill, it’s going to be a nightmare for the defense because they can both finish at the rim,” Kriener said. “And if there’s four shooters on the perimeter, it’s a good look for us.”

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.

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