IOWA CITY, Ia. — Joe Wieskamp was the offensive and defensive star for Iowa in its 72-52 victory over Minnesota on Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
He was actually both on the biggest play of the night, the one that brought the crowd of 10,442 to its feet and a smile to Wieskamp’s face.
The Hawkeyes had watched the Gophers (4-5, 0-1 Big Ten Conference) cut a 17-point lead to 55-45. Tre’ Williams had an apparently open look at a 3-pointer that could have put Minnesota right back in the contest with nine minutes, 28 seconds remaining.
Wieskamp surprised the Gophers guard by sprinting out for a clean block, gathering the basketball and racing downcourt for a dunk so ferocious it left him swinging on the rim.
Minnesota never threatened again.
“With my long wing span, I may look a little bit farther away, but I can recover up into their space a lot quicker,” said Wieskamp, who stands 6-foot-6.
“I knew he was going to shoot it. I blocked it. I got blocked a couple times taking it to the rim, so I knew I wanted to go up strong. I kind of lost grip of the rim a little bit, kind of hung on for dear life. I think I was going too fast. The momentum took me forward. I was scared for a minute I was going to get a tech.”
There was no technical foul. But there was a sense that Wieskamp may have made a big step in his evolution as a basketball player Monday.
The sophomore took a career-high 15 shots to finish with 23 points. It’s amazing that 15 is the most he’s ever launched considering what a talented shooter Wieskamp is.
But he’s also deferential to his teammates. Sometimes to a fault.
“I only took six shots in the Michigan game (a 103-91 loss Friday), and honestly not very many of them were open looks. I was not necessarily forcing shots, but trying to make something happen. (Monday), I was able to get more open looks but at the same time, I went into the game with a more aggressive mindset,” Wieskamp said.
“I feel like I’m our best perimeter player. When we need a play to be made, I’m going to go make it.”
Wieskamp finally conceded that it’s OK for him to force shots at times. It’s what Iowa (7-3, 1-1) needs from a player who was a preseason all-Big Ten selection. He entered the game averaging only 10.7 points.
“For us to win, we need him to be a little selfish,” Iowa guard C.J. Fredrick said of Wieskamp.
Wieskamp opened the game by hitting his first three 3-pointers and scoring 11 of Iowa’s first 13 points. He hit another 3 to open the second half, as the Hawkeyes pulled away.
But it was his block-and-dunk that showed the completeness of Wieskamp’s game. He is an explosive athlete as well as a dangerous long-range shooter.
Fredrick called it the key sequence of Iowa’s win in its Big Ten home opener.
“They were kind of starting to get it together a little bit,” Fredrick said of Minnesota. “That play kind of calmed us down, gave us a sigh of relief. Then we got back to getting stops and forcing turnovers.”
Bohannon with a stat line you never see
Iowa senior point guard Jordan Bohannon didn’t score a point Monday, and still had one of the best games of his terrific career. Bohannon missed all four of his shots, but finished with 10 assists and no turnovers in 25 minutes. It was Bohannon who made sure Wieskamp got off to a fast start.
“A priority for me was to get Wieskamp going, especially to start the game. Because I know he kind of struggled a little bit the last game and I wanted to get him going, and he got some open 3s in transition, got some layups,” Bohannon said.
Bohannon assisted on four of Wieskamp’s eight field goals. He said he told Wieskamp what he was going to do before the game. But that it’s nothing new for him to implore Wieskamp to shoot.
“I tell him that every day after practice. Every day I ever see him,” Bohannon said. “’You need to shoot the ball every time I pass it to you.’”
Bohannon’s 10 assists made him the sixth Hawkeye all-time to have more than 1,000 points and 500 assists. It was his seventh double-digit assist game, the first since doing it against the Gophers two seasons ago. That broke a program record (Cal Wulfsberg did it six times).
The fact that this one came without a point was an anomaly. Bohannon joked that he might have done that once in middle school.
He was most proud of the lack of turnovers. The Hawkeyes had 20 assists to six turnovers for the game.
“The guys who are struggling, it’s the point guard’s job to get those guys going,” Bohannon said.
Then Bohannon said something very interesting. He’s been trying to get Wieskamp more involved in the offense in Iowa’s stretch of games against top-level competition because he knows the Hawkeyes will need that going forward. What Bohannon didn’t say, but was implied, is that’s especially important because he is unlikely to be around to help matters after Thursday’s game at Iowa State.
That will be the 10th Bohannon plays in this year. And that’s the limit for him if he intends to apply for a medical redshirt due to his May hip surgery.
Bottom line: Wieskamp needed a game like this. Bohannon wanted to be the one to help get him there.
It’s like a literal changing of the guard.
Hawkeyes force Gophers to struggle from perimeter
Iowa watched Michigan shoot 55% from the field while making 10 of 24 3-pointers on Friday. It was a disappointing effort, and no one took it more to heart than Wieskamp.
On Monday, Minnesota made only 6 of 25 from long range. More impressive, the starting Gophers’ backcourt of Marcus Carr and Gabe Kalscheur were a combined 0-for-12. They had combined for 39 points in Minnesota’s 78-60 win over Clemson last Monday. Against Iowa, they managed only two.
Minnesota’s 52 points were the fewest it’s scored against Iowa since putting up 49 in 2007.
“We guarded ball screens a lot better. I thought we closed out better. We picked guys up in transition,” McCaffery said.
“We stayed down in our stance. We stayed in the gaps. And we finished the possession, whether it be a drive and a kick or a ball screen.”
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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