The Iowa coach expects his big men to handle the ball and run the floor.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — It’s like they planned it — like Prime Time League coaches knew exactly what they were doing Wednesday night, as they drafted their teams in league director Randy Larson’s Iowa City law office.
Freshmen are always a main attraction for the PTL, entering its 31st season. Last year, it was Tyler Cook. Now, it’s Luka Garza and Jack Nunge.
Thanks to how the draft unfolded, Hawkeye fans won't have to wait long for the show this year. Because on June 18, the first day of the PTL, it'll be Garza vs. Nunge. Freshman vs. freshman.
Garza’s team (Westport Touchless Autowash) drew Nunge’s team (L.L. Pelling) in the lone 4:30 p.m. game that day, so expect Roberts Gym at the North Liberty Recreation Center to be packed. Then, the two newcomers will play each other again in the sixth and final week of the round-robin tournament, at 7:30 p.m. on July 13 in Roberts Gym.
The playoffs begin July 16, where there could be Garza vs. Nunge: Part III.
Although defense ... isn’t exactly the primary goal in the PTL, try to watch how Iowa’s newest post players guard each other.
Garza’s more of a legitimate center: a 6-foot-10, 250-pound low-post force that mostly stays home in the paint. Nunge is more of a stretch forward: a 6-foot-9, 185-pound shooter who’s big enough to tangle inside, too.
So how will Garza’s defense extend beyond the paint? And how often will he be asked to do that?
On the other side, can Nunge hold his ground against a bigger body inside? And how effectively can he switch on the perimeter if somebody else takes Garza down low?
More thoughts on other matchups and the Hawkeye teammate combinations that’ll be featured this summer:
Jordan Bohannon/Ryan Kreiner vs. Christian Williams/Ahmad Wagner (June 18, July 13)
Or, point guard No. 1/post vs. point guard No. 2/post. These duos will likely see plenty of action together next year. This is also an opportunity for competition between Bohannon and Williams.
Watch for how both guys run their offenses, and how they operate the pick-and-roll with familiar post players.
Tyler Cook vs. Bennett Koch (June 18, July 13)
Tyler Cook and Dom Uhl’s team will twice play Nicholas Baer and Isaiah Moss’ team in the round-robin. Watch for potential improvements in Uhl's long-range shot. But also try to focus down low, specifically on Cook vs. Northern Iowa redshirt-junior Bennett Koch — the two programs’ top posts.
We didn’t get to see these two battle last year, as Cook was injured during Iowa’s 69-46 win over UNI at the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic in Des Moines. Cook averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 boards per game last year; Koch was at 11 and 3.8.
Team Culver’s vs. everybody
Baer and Moss’ team might provide the most intrigue. Watch for Moss, who will be asked to score much more this year without Peter Jok, to challenge for league MVP. And Baer is the perfect teammate to facilitate that scoring explosion; he might be the only guy with more assists than points this summer.
Incoming UNI freshman Tywhon Pickford will also get some good minutes. With Austin Phyfe sitting out because of injury, Pickford, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, is the Panthers’ lone PTL newcomer.
Also on this team: A.J. Green, a rising senior at Cedar Falls. He’s a lean, 6-1 point guard who might rip off the sweetest pull-up jumper you’ll see this summer. He’s a four-star recruit who’s a presumed lock for UNI, where his dad, Kyle, is an assistant coach. But Iowa State is also pushing hard.
Jordan Bohannon vs. Wyatt Lohaus (June 22)
Bohannon will score a lot. Lohaus will, too; he scored a whole heck of a lot in 2016's PTL (25.3 a game) en route to co-MVP honors. If you like points, watch Team L.L. Pelling vs. Team Westport Touchless Autowash.
It'll also be nice to see Lohaus back on the floor. He missed UNI's final 24 games last season with an ankle injury.
Nicholas Baer vs. Michael Baer (July 9)
Older brother vs. younger brother. Michael, a 6-4 jack of all trades, just graduated from Bettendorf and will be a manager for Iowa. He was the sixth man for Bettendorf’s state quarterfinal team this year, and he made the all-state tournament team.
Tyler Cook/Dom Uhl with Juwan McCloud
This is an opportunity for Uhl to build confidence in his shot, and for Cook to show off his spring improvements. Can all that take place with UNI’s McCloud, an unfamiliar point guard?
Maishe Dailey and Wyatt Lohaus
Dailey’s another guy who will see a much bigger role with Jok gone. He’ll play alongside a prolific scorer in Lohaus on Westport Touchless Autowash (Garza’s team). Does Dailey defer to Lohaus? What role will he find in that offense?
Brady Ellingson and Jack Nunge
Ellingson, like Moss and Dailey, will see more minutes without Jok next year. He’ll look to prove he can be a consistent offensive threat this summer.
But how does that affect Nunge? Ellingson will stay on the perimeter, so as long as he’s on the floor, Nunge might not be able to extend too far outside the paint. How will the freshman play alongside a 3-point marksman?
Team #1: Marion Iron Company (Coach: Kevin Sanders)
Tyler Cook, Iowa
Dom Uhl, Iowa
Juwan McCloud, Northern Iowa
Hunter Rhodes, Northern Iowa
Niko Gosnell, Lone TreeHS/Kirkwood CC
Tra’von Fagan, Cedar Falls HS/Tyler CC
Trevon Montgomery, ex-Pleasant Valley HS
Aaron Lyons, ex-Buena Vista
Matt Coiner, ex-Bettendorf HS
Team #2 Culver's (Coach: Ron Nove)
Nicholas Baer, Iowa
Isaiah Moss, Iowa
Bennett Koch, Northern Iowa
Tywhon Pickford, Northern Iowa
A.J. Green, Cedar Falls HS
Joshua Carter, Dubuque Wahlert HS/Highland CC
Tim Loan, ex-Briar Cliff
Dadrian Hoambrecker, Iowa City West HS
Team #3 L.L. Pelling (Coach: Jordan O'Neil)
Jordan Bohannon, Iowa
Isaiah Brown, Northern Iowa
Ryan Kriener, Iowa
Ted Friedman, Northern Iowa
Seybian Sims, Iowa City West HS
Jake Hughes, ex-Upper Iowa
Harley Shear, ex-Anoka Ramsey CC
Jonny Dahl, ex-John Wood CC
Team #4 Westport Touchless Autowash (Coach: Ray Swetalla)
Wyatt Lohaus, Northern Iowa
Maishe Dailey, Iowa
Luka Garza, Iowa
Luke McDonnell, Northern Iowa
Matt Mims, Cedar Rapids Xavier HS
Bryan Forbes, ex-Briar Cliff
Michael Baer, ex-Bettendorf HS
Jason Capper, St. Ambrose
Team #5 Vinton Merchants (Coach: Randy Larson)
Jack Nunge, Iowa
Klint Carlson Northern Iowa
Brady Ellingson, Iowa
Adam McDermott, Northern Iowa
Jake Timm, ex-Coe
Kingsley Botchway, ex-D.W. Daniel HS, South Carolina
Ross Westemeyer, ex-Regina HS
Brant DeMeulenaere, Kirkwood
Team #6 The Jill Armstrong Team Skogman Realty (Coach: Dan Ahrens)
Ahmad Wagner, Iowa
Christian Williams, Iowa
Spencer Haldeman, Northern Iowa
Kendall Jacks, Wayne State
Jordan Ashton, ex-Northern Iowa
Tanner Lohaus, Northern Iowa
Zach Schlabaugh, Coe
Amel Kuljuhovik, Lakeland CC
Sunday, June 18 (North Liberty)
3:00 Jones gym - Marion Iron vs. Culver's
3:00 Roberts gym - L.L. Pelling vs. The Jill Armstrong
4:30 Roberts gym - Westport vs. Vinton
Thursday, June 22 (Waterloo)
6:00 SportsPlex - L.L. Pelling vs. Westport
6:00 SportsPlex - Marion Iron vs. The Jill Armstrong
7:30 SportsPlex - Culver's vs. Vinton
Sunday, June 25 (North Liberty)
3:00 Jones gym - Westport vs. The Jill Armstrong
3:00 Roberts gym - Culver's vs. L.L. Pelling
4:30 Roberts gym - Marion Iron vs. Vinton
Thursday, June 29 (Waterloo)
6:00 SportsPlex - Marion Iron vs. Westport
6:00 SportsPlex - L.L. Pelling vs. Vinton
7:30 SportsPlex - Culver's vs. The Jill Armstrong
Sunday, July 9 (North Liberty)
3:00 Jones gym - Vinton vs. The Jill Armstrong
3:00 Roberts gym - Marion Iron vs. L.L. Pelling
4:30 Roberts gym - Culver's vs. Westport
Thursday, July 13 (North Liberty)
6:00 Jones gym - Marion Iron vs. Culver's
6:00 Roberts gym - L.L. Pelling vs. The Jill Armstrong
7:30 Roberts gym - Westport vs. Vinton
Sunday, July 16 - Playoffs (North Liberty)
1st and 2nd place teams will have byes
4th place team vs. 5th place team, 3:00, Jones Gym
3rd place team vs. 6th place team, 4:30, Jones Gym
Thursday, July 20 - Semifinals (Waterloo)
1st place team plays winner of the 4th place vs. 5th place game, 6:00, SportsPlex
2nd place team plays winner of 3rd place vs 6th place game, 7:30, SportsPlex
Sunday July 23 - Championship (North Liberty)
7:00, Jones Gym
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.