Moss is red-hot for Hawkeyes; now Bohannon and Wieskamp must join him against Michigan
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Something happened to Iowa point guard Jordan Bohannon on Sunday that hadn’t occurred all season: He never even attempted a 3-point shot in a loss at Minnesota.
Freshman forward Joe Wieskamp was held without a field goal in that game for only the second time in his Hawkeye career.
Together, No. 25 Iowa (16-5, 5-5 Big Ten Conference) got five total points from two of its starting five players in that 92-87 loss. That’s unacceptable. And you’d better believe it’s been a topic of conversation for the team as it prepares for its biggest test of the season, when No. 5 Michigan (20-1, 9-1) comes into Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a 6 p.m. game Friday. The game is sold out. Those without tickets can watch on FS1.
Bohannon and Wieskamp can’t be among the spectators again if Iowa is to solve the best defense in the Big Ten. The Wolverines allow only 56 points per game. Opponents are making a mere 29.4 percent of their 3-point shots against a long and active group of defenders who are also expertly coached under John Beilein.
“Screening’s going to be important. Getting out in transition is going to be important,” Iowa power forward Tyler Cook said. “(Bohannon) is a versatile guy in terms of where he likes to get his shots off. He can do it off the dribble, off the catch, in transition, in the half-court.”
Bohannon didn’t do much shooting at all at Minnesota. He was 1-for-3 from the field, the lone make a late layup. Iowa’s leader in 3-pointers made (44) and attempted (117) never got one off. That followed a three-point outing in a loss to Michigan State. Five points in two games is very un-Bohannon-like. And he said Thursday he needs to be more aggressive about getting the basketball into his hands.
“I think I just shied away from that the last couple games. And (I must) work a little harder to get the ball, and work to get my guy set up so I can come off screens a little more,” Bohannon said.
“I’m not going to blame anyone on the team for not getting me open.”
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Bohannon did have eight assists in Iowa’s two most recent losses. He sees the opportunity for more Friday against a Wolverine defense that figures to aggressively double-team off of ball-screens. But he needs to be ready to launch whenever an opening presents itself, as well. It’s his primary value to the Hawkeyes.
As for Wieskamp, he is coming off a two-game stretch in which he totaled only eight points. All three of his at Minnesota came from the free-throw line late in the game. He averages 11.2 points per game. He needs to ramp things back up for Iowa to reach its full potential.
“I know he was frustrated a little bit, because he wants to be more aggressive and teams are starting to play him a little differently,” Bohannon said of a conversation he had with Wieskamp, a 43-percent 3-point shooter.
“He’s got a special talent. I don’t think he realizes how good he can be.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery compared Wieskamp to former Hawkeye players Devyn Marble and Jarrod Uthoff.
“I encourage him to go hunt some buckets. It's OK,” McCaffery said of Wieskamp. “Certain guys are good at that and certain guys don't do as good a job. … Really depends on your personality and how you see the game.
“He's a guy who has the ability to affect the game in so many different ways. That's what makes him a winning player, whether it's defensively or on the glass or as a passer.”
In contrast, junior shooting guard Isaiah Moss is playing the best basketball of his Iowa career. He made his first five 3-pointers against Minnesota and now leads the Big Ten with a 46.2-percent success rate from the arc. Moss has made 15 of his past 22 3-point shots during a four-game span, but he also has 11 assists against three turnovers in that stretch. McCaffery noted Moss is also playing his best defense since arriving four years ago.
Moss said his improvement has come with more film study. But he also was hesitant to discuss the reasons why.
“I’ve just been shooting it,” he said, laughing. “I think it’s best not to think about it, not to talk about it.”
Bohannon said Moss has finally listened to what teammates have been telling him for two years, since star shooting guard Peter Jok graduated.
“Try to be like Pete. Just shoot the ball whenever you get it. Coach isn’t going to be mad at you for shooting open shots,” Bohannon said of his message to Moss.
“I’ve been saying that since Pete left. I think he has the ability to be like that. He has that aggressiveness, and he has that mindset.”
So that’s two Iowa perimeter players looking to rediscover their offense, and one more who seems to be in breakout mode. Against the Michigan defense, there’s little doubt the Hawkeyes will need at least two of them to shine Friday.