After-thoughts from Iowa’s 95-73 loss to Indiana in the Big Ten tournament:
--The Hawkeyes’ lackluster second-half performance Thursday was disappointing in view of how much they had at stake in this game. They almost certainly had to win this game (and maybe one more) to land an NCAA tournament at-large berth. Now, they most likely are headed for the NIT. It’s pretty much what most of us expected before the season began. They may even have won a game or two more than many of us expected.
--Peter Jok not only didn’t produce much in the game but at times there was a visible lack of effort. There were a few instances in which Indiana streaked down the court to score in transition while the Iowa senior sort of moseyed back down to the defensive end. It wasn’t because of fatigue. It happened once in the first minute of the game. Jok did not get to the foul line a single time after making 22 of 23 free throws in a previous win over Indiana and he finished with only nine points plus four turnovers. It’s the 15th time this season he has had three or more turnovers in a game.
--Nicholas Baer also did not play well and seemed unusually tentative at times. He was 18 for 31 from 3-point range in the previous six games, but after missing his first two attempts Thursday, he stopped looking at the basket. He took only two more shots, missing on a close-in attempt in the second half and finally hitting a three with two minutes to go. Baer also failed to get a rebound in a game for the first time all season.
--Only three Iowa players had above average games and they all were freshmen. Jordan Bohannon had 24 points and 10 assists (both career highs), Cordell Pemsl had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Isaiah Moss collected 11 points and a career-best five steals. Bohannon and Pemsl have been playing very well recently but Moss had only 13 points in the previous six games, leading some of us to wonder why Fran McCaffery keeps him in the starting lineup. He finally played like a starter Thursday.
--Iowa has gotten steady production from its bench all season, but Pemsl and Baer were the only reserves who scored against Indiana, largely because McCaffery decided to use his subs much less than usual. Dom Uhl played only four minutes, Christian Williams three and Brady Ellingson two. Ryan Kriener played nine minutes but probably shouldn’t have been out there that much. He looked completely lost on defense a few times and also did not have a single rebound.
--According to the official box score, Indiana had 12 fast break points. It seemed like 50.
--Most of us would have bet the farm (if we had a farm) that Jok would lead Iowa in 3-point field goals this season. Following Thursday’s game, he has 76. That Bohannon kid now has 79.
--McCaffery insisted this week that he had no plans to change the way he prepared his team for the conference tournament, citing the fact that he has won such tournaments at other schools. But maybe he should think about changing things up in future seasons. The Hawkeyes are now 2-7 under him in Big Ten tournament play and they have lost the first game to lower-seeded teams four years in a row.
--The ESPN2 in-game and postgame broadcast teams kept talking about how this victory keeps Indiana in the hunt as a viable NCAA at-large possibility. There’s a lot of wishful thinking mixed in there. The Hoosiers’ only chance to make the NCAA probably is to win the tournament and get the automatic berth. If they won’t win the whole thing, they’ll have 15 losses and no team ever has received an at-large slot with that many defeats, They went 7-11 in what most feel was a so-so Big Ten. The wishful thinkers point out that the Hoosiers beat both Kansas and North Carolina, but those games took place four months ago. Bracketologist Joe Lunardi finally set them straight, saying Indiana needs to at least reach the Big Ten title game to receive any sort of at-large consideration.