What we know about Hawkeye basketball through 11 games
IOWA CITY, Ia. – The Iowa basketball fan base has been uneasy since Friday, when Iowa State ran roughshod over the Hawkeyes in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
On Monday, CBS Sports hoops guru Jerry Palm added to the unrest by releasing his projected NCAA Tournament field. The Hawkeyes weren't among Palm's 68 entrants, nor were they in his "First Four out."
Sure, that's just one guy and means next to nothing three-plus months prior to Selection Sunday. But it underscores the notion that the Hawkeyes have lots of work to do in their final 20 regular-season games.
And that starts with Iowa's next opponent, Northern Iowa — 9-1 overall and a Palm-projected No. 9 NCAA Tournament seed — in Saturday's Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).
With final exams this week, the Hawkeyes (8-3) match their longest stretch between games all season — eight days. They've had a lot to stew about since Friday, when Iowa State's 90-75 rout ended Iowa's nonconference home winning streak at 31 games.
"We'll be a better team from this," Iowa point guard Mike Gesell said. "We'll come together. This week off, we'll regroup."
With the UNI game fast approaching and the Cyclone loss slowly drifting into the rear view, it's a great time for reflection. With that, here is the season's second installment of what we know and what we don't about the Iowa basketball team:
We know … coach Fran McCaffery wants to give more court time to shot-blocking center Gabe Olaseni. He said prior to the Iowa State game that 6-foot-10 Olaseni and 7-1 Adam Woodbury playing together would happen. Normally, they rotate at Iowa's "5" (center) position.
Iowa is 8-0 when Olaseni plays at least 15 minutes, 0-3 when he doesn't. He will be available vs. UNI, expected to return to the U.S. on Wednesday after attending his late father's memorial service in England.
"If you look at the numbers he's been putting up," McCaffery said, "the consistency with which he's playing … he deserves to play more."
We don't know … how Olaseni would respond to consistently increased minutes. He's logged more than 20 minutes seven times in his 99-game Iowa career and more than 25 only twice.
In his two over-20 games this year, Olaseni has dominated weaker competition — a combined 25 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks in 45 minutes vs. Longwood and Maryland-Baltimore County.
Overall, Olaseni is averaging 17.5 minutes, 8.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game.
"He's playing at an incredibly high intensity level," McCaffery said last week. "So we've got to be careful not to play him too many minutes."
We know … that Iowa's biggest scoring void is in the backcourt. After a strong open to the season, starting "2" guard Anthony Clemmons has cooled off. He's failed to score basket in three of Iowa's last five games. Backup 2 guard and senior co-captain Josh Oglesby has yet to find his stroke (22.6 percent on 62 shots).
We don't know … whether sophomore wingman Peter Jok can become the Hawkeyes' answer at the 2. This season, has been mostly backing up Jarrod Uthoff at the 3. But Jok, who has been praised by McCaffery for improved defense and stamina, is looking like a more legit all-around threat for the Hawkeyes. He recently requested McCaffery play him more.
Jok scored 14 points in a career-high 25 minutes against Iowa State.
"I like playing the 2. I'm more comfortable at the 2," the 6-6 West Des Moines Valley alum said after the UMBC game. "But at the 3 spot, it's OK with me. Most of the night I have mismatches."
We know … health permitting, Aaron White will set Iowa's all-time free throws record. The 6-9 senior's 492 career made foul shots are 24 shy of tying Roy Marble's 516. He needs two to match Acie Earl for No. 2 all-time. White is shooting 88.5 percent from the line and is third in Division I with 69 made free throws (6.3 a game) this year.
We don't know … how high White will climb on Iowa's all-time scoring chart. He's currently 15th with 1,475 points. At White's current clip of 15.8 points a game, if Iowa plays another 21-22 games, he would top 1,800 points and surpass Earl (1,779) for No. 2 all-time behind Marble (2,116).
We know … the Big Ten Conference remains wide open, at least behind Wisconsin. Starting Dec. 30 at Ohio State, a smorgasbord of imperfect Big Ten teams await the Hawkeyes.
Michigan is a mess after two embarrassing home losses. Illinois is coming back to earth after a Top-25 cameo. Nebraska has underwhelmed fresh off an NCAA Tournament breakthrough.
The Big Ten Network's Stephen Bardo has Iowa pegged fifth out of 14 in his most recent conference power rankings.
We don't know … whether the Iowa State performance was an outlier of a meltdown for Iowa, or if this was a warning of Big Ten lumps to come.
In the five games before allowing 34 baskets (the most in 35 games) and 90 points to Iowa State, the Hawkeye defense had locked down opponents to totals of 49, 44, 55, 47 and 44.
"If I knew something that was happening, I would tell you and I would fix it," White said after his third loss to the Cyclones. "But I really don't. We've just got to rebound from it."
Hawkeye sports reporter Chad Leistikow will appear on Wednesday night's Hawkeye Nation Radio Show with Jon Miller and Joe Chmelka from 6-7 p.m.
Stop in at Legends American Grill in West Des Moines (50th and Mills Civic Parkway) or listen live on WHO (AM 1040).