After-thoughts from Iowa’s 96-64 victory over Belmont Abbey:
--It looks as though Nicholas Baer will begin the season back in his familiar role of supersub. After doing almost nothing as a starter in Iowa’s first exhibition game, Baer collected nine points and three rebounds in just 13 minutes off the bench Thursday. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery all but admitted he will go with Ahmad Wagner in the starting lineup and bring Baer off the bench when the regular season begins next Friday against Chicago State.
--Baer played only 22 minutes in the two exhibition games, ninth highest total on the team, but that’s probably an indication that coach Fran McCaffery and his staff already know what the 6-foot-7 junior is capable of. These games were more about experimentation and testing out new players and combinations. The team’s three freshmen — Luka Garza, Connor McCaffery and Jack Nunge — were third, fourth and fifth respectively in minutes played.
--Isaiah Moss did not play because of a lingering ankle injury and with him sidelined, we saw some interesting combinations of players on the court. Baer and Dom Uhl both saw action at the shooting guard position and in one sequence in the first half the Hawkeyes had 6-5 Connor McCaffery out there with four players 6-9 or taller. Coach McCaffery indicated that Moss is likely to be ready for the start of the regular season next week.
--The Hawkeyes got huge offensive production out of the power forward position Thursday. Tyler Cook and Cordell Pemsl not only combined to score 37 points, but they got to the foul line 28 times, making 19 of those free throws.
--Another impressive stat: The Hawkeyes had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 25-to-7. And it wasn’t just the point guards who were dealing. Five players had three or more assists, including Tyler Cook (4), Ryan Kriener (3) and Jack Nunge (3). Had it been a regular-season game, those all would have been career highs.
--Connor McCaffery didn’t do anything special in 17 minutes of action — 2 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, 0 turnovers — but he’s probably going to be that kind of player. Solid, steady, unspectacular. He may never put up big statistical numbers but he’s never going to be, to borrow one of his father’s favorite phrases, “a mistake guy.’’
--Coach McCaffery said after the game that nothing that happened in the two exhibitions clarified much regarding his rotation. However, it would appear that Maishe Dailey and Uhl are going to get the least playing time among the scholarship players. The starting lineup is likely to be Jordan Bohannon, Moss, Garza, Cook and Wagner with Baer, Pemsl, Nunge, Kriener, Brady Ellingson and Connor McCaffery seeing the most time off the bench.