Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Third-year coach Fran McCaffrey's rebuilding project appears to be running along smoothly. An NCAA Tournament berth for the Hawkeyes would help to solidify that narrative.
|Last Year||18-17 (8-10)|
|Coach||Fran McCaffrey, 3rd year|
|Who's Gone||Matt Gatens, Bryce Cartwright|
|Who's Back||Eric May, Roy Devyn Marble, Zach McCabe, Melsahn Basabe, Aaron White|
|Who's New||Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury, Anthony Clemmons, Pat Ingram, Kyle Meyer|
The 2011-2012 season saw Iowa improve leaps and bounds from the previous season, when then-brand new coach Fran McCaffrey took up the task of attempting to rebuild a once-proud program decimated by three straight uninspiring losing seasons that occurred under his predecessor, Todd Lickliter. After managing only three wins in Big Ten play during McCaffrey's first season, the Hawkeyes more than doubled that total with eight conference wins during McCaffrey's sophomore coaching season, good enough to earn them an NIT berth.
McCaffrey's own intense coaching style and emphasis on up-tempo play has rejuvenated the program and with a strong nucleus of returning players, has Iowa fans excited about a potential NCAA Tournament berth this upcoming season. Oh, and did I neglect to mention that Fran has taken the chair mauling torch from Bob Knight?
Although Iowa's top scorer, Matt Gatens, has since departed, as well as their leading assists man Bryce Cartwright, there are plenty of key players returning, most notably perhaps, Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White, the only other two Hawkeyes aside from Gatens to average double figures in scoring last season (both Marble and White averaged a little over 11 ppg). White also led the team in rebounds, averaging 5.7 of them per game last season as a true freshman. Melsahn Basabe (8.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG) returns after a sophomore slump last season but still has the potential as a scorer inside. McCaffery will be counting on him to regain his freshman form when he averaged 11 PPG and shot 57% from the floor. Zach McCabe, Josh Oglesby, and Eric May also return as solid contributors, who have started in the past but might be forced to come off the bench.
Fran McCaffery and his staff had quite the recruiting haul in 2012, with two big-time pickups in point guard Mike Gessell, a Gatorade Player Of The Year in the state of Nebraska, and Adam Woodbury, a Top-50 big man from Iowa. Gessell will likely get the shot to start for the Hawkeyes as a true freshman, and seems like the type of point guard McCaffrey wants to run his up-tempo offense. Woodbury will also be a big factor down low, as the athletic big man chose his home school over North Carolina.
Iowa appears to be on a serious upward trajectory that could very well culminate in the program's first NCAA Tournament berth in several years. The Hawkeyes should be a rather deep squad full of veteran leadership and as we've seen in the first two years of the Fran McCaffrey era, they are also very well coached. Considering the fact that the Big Ten is an absolute meat-grinder of a basketball conference right now, those aforementioned qualities will be critical if the Hawkeyes want to be shown by CBS cameras cheering as their name gets mentioned during the Tournament Selection Show.