Iowa rolls in exhibition: Here's what we learned
IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Iowa men’s basketball team will be facing a group of athletes next Monday who will do a better job of filling out their blue jerseys.
That will be the DePaul Blue Demons.
But this Monday it was the Lindsey Wilson College Blue Raiders who visited Carver-Hawkeye Arena for Iowa’s lone public exhibition. Lindsey Wilson is an NAIA school located in Kentucky. The Blue Raiders were just here for the experience.
The Hawkeyes were looking for a little preseason experience as well, after losing four players from last year’s 23-12 team.
Everyone played their part as scripted Monday. Iowa won easily 96-58. Sophomore star Joe Wieskamp scored 19 points. Junior center Luka Garza added 16. Redshirt freshman shooting guard CJ Fredrick had 18 in a promising debut.
If you were looking for one thing to nitpick, it was that the Hawkeyes were often a step slow to the defensive glass out of their zone defense. Lindsey Wilson grabbed 12 offensive rebounds off of 43 missed shots.
"Some of them were long 3s with crazy bounces, but still we've got to get guys in there to rebound because if we do then we can run," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Iowa opens its season at 8 p.m. Friday with a home game against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
Here’s what we learned from Monday’s tuneup:
CJ FREDRICK LOOKS THE PART: Fredrick took a redshirt season to add 25 pounds, and is now 6-foot-3, 195. He’s in line to be Iowa’s starting shooting guard this winter. He’s an accomplished shooter, as he showed in the game’s opening minutes, swishing a pair of 3-pointers. He later scored on a strong drive and stepback jumper near the free-throw line. He finished 6-for-7 from the field. He also was a harrying presence at the top of Iowa’s zone defense.
Fredrick said he was most happy with his defense.
"I think the zone can be a problem for teams later on in the year," said Fredrick, who estimated his wingspan at 6-foot-6.
CONNOR MCCAFFERY LOADS UP TEAMMATES: There will be games this season when the sophomore point guard will need to score points — or at least attempt shots — but this was not one of them. McCaffery, the oldest son of Fran McCaffery, had five assists in the game’s opening 4 minutes and finished with 11 against three turnovers. He didn’t even attempt a shot in the first half. In the second half, he buried his lone 3-point attempt, from the top of the key. That’s efficient.
"He moves the ball, finds the open guy and coach knows that, that he's looking for guys that are on fire," said senior guard Jordan Bohannon. "We're not surprised by how he played and how many assists he had. He's been doing that since he got here."
JOE TOUSSAINT IS FAST AS ADVERTISED: The 6-foot backup point guard is a different kind of athlete than Iowa has had in the recent past. He showed that early when he leaped to grab a defensive rebound over a taller Blue Raider and finished with seven of them. Toussaint is speedy from baseline to baseline but he also showed some of his offensive limitations.
His first jumpshot missed awkwardly. He drove twice to the rim and finished neither first-half attempt, although he did draw a foul on one. He bounced a pass off a teammate’s foot for an early turnover. He was 1-for-7 from the field.
"I was definitely rushing things. I've got to be more patient. Thank God it was an exhibition game," Toussaint said.
Toussaint clearly has an early connection with Iowa’s other true freshman, forward Patrick McCaffery. Both of his assists were on McCaffery’s two first-half baskets. But Toussaint needs to keep himself under control if he’s to add value to this year’s team.
JORDAN BOHANNON REMAINS FAN FAVORITE: Iowa’s senior point guard is just over five months removed from surgery on his right hip. He wants to test how it responds in some early-season games and was the first substitute off the bench Monday. The sparse crowd gave him a standing ovation. Bohannon later made his only first-half shot attempt, a 3-pointer from the right corner. That, too, was popular with the attendees. It's an inspirational story to follow this winter.
Bohannon said he stiffened up in last Sunday's closed scrimmage against Illinois State. On Monday, he rode the stationary bicycle until called into the game, and that helped. He played 15 pain-free minutes. He expects to play a similar role in Friday's game, being used more on the wing than at the point.
"I actually got a little goosebumps after that shot, because it's been a long process this last five, six months. It's been quite the grind, and for me to get back in this position to try to get back in the lineup and try to get some help to this team," Bohannon said. "Emotionally and physically, this is probably the most I've had to deal with."
Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.
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