Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon is looking to heat up; Saturday is a perfect chance

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central


IOWA CITY, Ia. — It’s never taken Jordan Bohannon this long to heat up a gym.

The Iowa point guard made 13-of-27 3-pointers in his first two career starts as a freshman. He drilled 6-of-8 in a victory over Alabama-Birmingham last November, one of nine games in which he sank at least five.

Bohannon was a 42 percent 3-point shooter heading into his junior season.

Jordan Bohannon has kept his spirits up through a trying stretch of shooting. The Iowa point guard says he's not worried about his slump as long as the team is winning. But a big game seems imminent for the team's best shooter. Saturday's opponent, Savannah State, would seem to be the perfect foil.

The shots haven’t been falling for him so far, with No. 21 Iowa off to a 9-2 start. Bohannon has made only 18-of-56 of his 3s, a 32 percent clip that is far from satisfactory for the perfectionist from Marion. He’s even missed seven free throws; he missed only eight in each of his first two seasons.

“This is the first time in my life I’ve really gone through a shooting slump like this. (I’m) frustrated with myself,” Bohannon said Friday as the Hawkeyes prepared to host Savannah State (3-10) at noon Saturday.

“I don’t feel like I’ve taken a bad shot this year yet. I’ve just got to keep staying confident. We’re winning right now, so I’m not too worried about it.”

Bohannon is averaging a career-low 9.3 points per game as he struggles to regain his shooting form. Everybody expects it to happen. But he hasn’t made more than three 3-pointers in a game yet.

“He’s taking the shots that he normally takes. I think once he sees one fall, his confidence will go through the roof,” Iowa guard Maishe Dailey said of Bohannon.

Bohannon arrived at Friday’s practice session already dripping with sweat. He’d been upstairs in the team’s practice gym working with assistant coach Kirk Speraw, who walked down alongside him offering advice.

Bohannon is notorious for being a gym rat. He said the extra shots he’s taking this year are nothing new. But the urgency he feels to get things turned around might be.

“I just have to keep trusting my work ethic and what I’ve done my entire life to get to this point,” Bohannon said.

Savannah State would seem to offer the perfect opponent for a Bohannon explosion. The best 3-point shooting game of his career was an 8-for-10 outing at Maryland late in his freshman year.

The Tigers, who love to push the pace but don’t particularly relish playing defense, are allowing 99.4 points per game. Opponents average 12 made 3-pointers, shooting at a 36.5 percent clip.

“I’m able to probably get more open shots and try to get my confidence back,” Bohannon said of Saturday’s game.

Two years ago, Savannah State came to Carver-Hawkeye Arena and absorbed a 116-84 defeat. The Hawkeyes made a school-record 18 3-pointers in that one. It was the second game of Bohannon’s career and he wasn’t yet starting. He had six points and seven assists.

On Saturday, Iowa will be playing without Connor McCaffery, who backs up Bohannon at times and plays alongside him at others. McCaffery is in concussion protocol after taking an inadvertent hit from teammate Tyler Cook late in Tuesday’s win over Western Carolina.

That may force Bohannon to be more of a facilitator. He is averaging 2.5 assists per game this season with McCaffery being more of the pass-first option in the backcourt.

McCaffery’s absence means Dailey becomes the next option at point guard. It’s a role the junior is comfortable with, he said. He plays it often in practices.

Dailey has 11 points and four assists in the past two games. He said the Hawkeyes have been working on getting more motion in their offense. Saturday provides what should be an easy test.

The goal: “Getting the ball side to side and penetrating the defense, to get them moving more, get them scrambling so we can get more open shots and more shots at the rim,” Dailey said.

More shots for Bohannon wouldn’t hurt either. Eventually, Iowa is going to need its best shooter to take over a game like every Hawkeye knows he can and every opponent fears he will.