Brown: Iowa must make superior size a strength vs. Davidson
SEATTLE – Asked what stood out to him about Iowa's basketball team, Davidson coach Bob McKillop ran off a grocery list of items.
"Ball movement, IQ, taking advantage of matchups, versatility, inside-out attack, half-court, full-court attack, mixing up defenses," McKillop said. "They have tremendous size."
Iowa's length and size will be an advantage when it meets Atlantic 10 regular-season champion Davidson in an NCAA round-of-64 game at 6:20 p.m. Friday in KeyArena.
Davidson starts four guards and a 6-foot-7 freshman forward. Iowa counters with a front line of 6-9 Jarrod Uthoff, 6-9 Aaron White and 7-1 Adam Woodbury.
So just how has Davidson simulated the Hawkeyes' superior size in practice?
"The same way we simulate physical strength and athleticism," McKillop said. "We use a lot of imagination."
Davidson's cerebral counterpunch will be to hit Iowa where it hurts — from behind the 3-point line. Three of the Wildcats' starters have made at least 52 3-pointers. This is a team that is second nationally in 3-pointers made per game (10.9) and 14th in 3-point accuracy (39.7 percent). A team that is sixth nationally in scoring at 79.9 points a game.
"They all have the green light, all have quick triggers," Iowa guard Anthony Clemmons said. "Defending the 3-point line is going to be a big part of this game."
Iowa will try and counter that 3-point attack by using its length in two important places: defense and rebounding.
"I hope it's a tremendous strength," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "This is one of the best 3-point shooting teams I've ever studied on film. The way they move the ball has been very impressive. They have a bunch of willing passers, and tremendous 3-point shooters. We have to be out and up in their space and contesting so our length will help."
Davidson's Tyler Kalinoski, the A-10 player of the year, said that Iowa's rebounding concerns him more than its length.
"They do a great job going to the glass, especially with offensive rebounding," Kalinoski said.
In addition to second-chance opportunities, Iowa's expected rebounding edge should trigger the Hawkeyes' transition game. But jump-starting the transition game off turnovers will be more challenging. Davidson is third nationally in fewest turnovers at 9.6 a game.
Iowa finished third in the Big Ten in scoring defense at 63.8 points a game. But in their last outing, the Hawkeyes gave up 48 second-half points to Penn State in a one-and-done showing in the Big Ten Tournament.
Iowa also shot a season-low 26.3 percent from the field in that game. All the length and rebounding won't matter if the Hawkeyes struggle to put it in the basket.
Kalinoski, a 6-4 guard, averages 17 points a game and shoots 43.1 percent from 3.
"He's versatile," McCaffery said. "He can put it on the deck. And he's a phenomenal 3-point shooter."
White is also well-versed after taking a crash course on Kalinoski the past few days.
"He can score from everywhere," White said. "He can shoot the 3 and he can drive. He's a little more athletic than he looks in person. Coach said if you saw him walking down the street, you really wouldn't recognize him. But he's got game."
Kalinoski will be more than a pedestrian challenge. The same can be said for Davidson.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.