IOWA CITY, Ia. — Jordan Bohannon isn’t exclusively a backup shooting guard now for the Iowa basketball team, but it sure looks like that will be his primary role as the season gets underway with an 8 p.m. Friday home game against. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
Bohannon, a senior who was the starting point guard in his first three seasons, is easing into things after having May surgery on his right hip. In Monday’s exhibition win over Lindsey Wilson College, he played 15 minutes on the wing, making 1 of 3 shots to finish with three points, two assists and a steal.
“I know I can get some shots up if I play the ‘2’ and people are going to find me,” Bohannon said afterward.
Iowa coach Fran Mccaffery said Wednesday that Bohannon will play both guard positions. That will make him more difficult to defend, McCaffery said.
But it makes sense for the Hawkeyes to try to take advantage of Bohannon’s biggest strength — long-range shooting — while getting a look at other point guard options. That’s because it is unlikely that Bohannon will be able to play a full season. A medical redshirt remains a strong possibility.
Connor McCaffery started at point guard in the exhibition. True freshman Joe Toussaint was the primary backup. Graduate transfer Bakari Evelyn can also play both guard spots.
It also seems logical that taking away the primary ball-handling duties from Bohannon will put less stress on his repaired hip. But that’s not how he sees it.
“I honestly think I move more without the ball,” Bohannon said. “If I have the ball, I’m not getting face-guarded. It’s more physical, I think, playing the 2 guard. I have to deal with trying to get the ball in the first place.”
McCaffery said Bohannon’s workload will depend on how he’s feeling in any given week, but it could range upward of 20 minutes in a game.
Kriener ready to lead as a senior
Reserve center Ryan Kriener enters his final season as a Hawkeye with one thing on his mind.
“I’d really like to say that I led the team to the best of my abilities and that we accomplished a lot of our goals,” Kriener said Wednesday.
With Bohannon’s status unclear, Kriener is the lone senior on the roster who figures to play in every game. He will be asked to fill the role that Nicholas Baer did last season, as the team’s only senior who also came off the bench to provide important contributions.
“He's a cerebral guy on the court, which impacts a lot of things, most importantly the defensive end, with his communication. He's telling people where to go, what to do. He sees the play develop,” McCaffery said of Kriener. “That's where information is really important, when the communication comes at the right time versus a second or two late.”
Kriener chuckled Wednesday when asked to recall his first game as a Hawkeye, when he scored six points in 9 minutes in a win over Kennesaw State.
“Super, super nervous. Like disproportionately nervous,” Kriener said. “I didn’t want to do anything wrong.”
And now he’s the guy trying to make sure the other Hawkeyes are doing everything right.
“I don’t like to get on guys too much. I like to be the nice guy. I try to lead by example and encourage guys,” Kriener said.
Evelyn with a quiet debut
McCaffery said Evelyn, who spent his previous two seasons as a point guard at Valparaiso, will play both guard spots equally. But he was used extensively on the wing Monday. He missed the only two shots he took in 17 minutes of playing time. He did have one steal and a blocked shot.
“He's been a good player for us. Incredibly versatile. Understands things,” McCaffery said of the 6-foot-2 Evelyn. “He's a new guy, but he's not a young guy. He kind of knows where to be, does things instinctively on defense. He's a really good passer and a really good shooter.”
Those two skills weren’t on display Monday, but the Hawkeyes can certainly use them from their lone veteran in the backcourt when Bohannon is unavailable.
Message to Toussaint: Don't change
Toussaint was only 1-for-7 from the field Monday. He was the only Hawkeye to have a shot blocked.
But he led the Hawkeyes with seven rebounds despite being the shortest player at 6-foot. And he certainly showed great energy in his 19 minutes.
Toussaint said afterward that he was nervous in his first college game. McCaffery concurred. He told Toussaint not to change his style of play.
“Don't try to get out of who you are and go make a play that's not there, because that's when the mistakes come,” McCaffery said.
“I thought Joe went in a couple times, maybe ill-advised, but that's kind of who he is. He was really good with that. I want him getting in the paint. I want him attacking the paint because when he does, he typically finds people, either at the front of the rim or shooters around. And he's also a good finisher for a guy who's not that big. So I would prefer to see him driving the ball.”
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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