In many ways, Joe Wieskamp isn’t your average, ordinary freshman college basketball player.
The former Muscatine High School star plays with a serene demeanor that is rare among younger players. Nothing seems to bother him. And he shows defensive instincts that are far beyond his years.
He is like other freshmen in one way: He seems to play much better at home.
That bodes well for the 20th-ranked Hawkeyes today as they seek to extend their current winning in a 5:30 p.m. game against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Wieskamp is averaging 13.4 points per contest in home games compared to 8.6 in games played on the road and at neutral sites.
He has scored in double figures 15 times in his debut season, and 11 of those games have come at home.
"It’s different, different environments, different feels, playing with different types of balls …," Wieskamp said pointing out that the type of basketball used varies from venue to venue. "But overall, I think it’s just getting confident and learning to play on the road."
The discrepancy in Wieskamp’s numbers extends beyond just point production.
He grabs 5.4 rebounds per game at home compared to 4.0 on the road. His shooting percentages at home are 54.3 from the field and a sizzling 46.7 from 3-point range. Away from Carver-Hawkeye, it’s 42.8 from the field, 40.0 from behind the arc.
"I think everybody is going to be more comfortable at home," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "He's a guy that teams are going to mark. We don't have a huge sample of road games that he's played in, so I wouldn't read too much into it. Some of the teams we played on the road are pretty good teams. … I think you look at who it was against more so than where it was."
Wieskamp actually is coming off one of his best road performances so far. He scored 13 points and connected on four straight 3-point attempts in the first half of a 77-72 victory at Indiana on Thursday.
His best game away from Iowa City was against the Northwestern team the Hawkeyes (18-15, 7-5 Big Ten) play today. He collected 19 points and seven rebounds in a victory at Evanston on Jan. 9.
One thing that has been constant with Wieskamp regardless of where the game is played has been defense.
He ranks second on the team in steals, and his numbers there are almost identical between home and away games. He had a career-high five steals last week in a home game against seventh-ranked Michigan.
McCaffery said the 6-foot-6 freshman’s 6-11 wingspan and his ability to move his feet help him take the ball away from opposing teams, but it goes beyond that.
"Essentially he's in the right place," McCaffery said. "That comes with playing a lot of basketball over the years, playing for good coaches over the years, listening to the tape review and the drills that we do and picking it up quickly.
"A lot of guys, they will chase their man and turn their heads and stuff that seems pretty simple, but when you get out there and you start running around and the place is crazy, sometimes you do that. He's pretty locked in when it comes to the technical side of how to play defense, so he's going to be in the right place. You don't make steals unless you're in the right place."