Shockers Drop Hawks, Expose Flaws
Wichita State beat Iowa 75-63 on Wednesday night in Cancun, dropping Iowa’s record from 5-0 to 5-1. The Shockers also exposed some weaknesses in Iowa’s game at this early juncture.
Mike Gesell struggled on offense against a bigger, athletic point guard, or the kind he is likely to see more often than not come Big Ten season. He played a season low 12 minutes, missed all three of his shots and scored two points and had no assists to three turnovers.
Aaron White attempted just four shots after only having two attempts on Tuesday night. Just six shots for White in two games in 64 minutes of floor time? That’s a problem and perhaps White is still adjusting to playing more minutes at the three position this year as opposed to the four.
Iowa was 8 of 14 from three in this game, which is good. They were just 4 of 31 on shots inside the arc, which is bad. Real bad. Unfathomably bad. Eight of those attempts were blocked but it seemed like more than that.
Iowa was 31 of 39 from the line, a stellar performance in that regard, but I can’t recall too many games where a team shot and made that many free throws and lost by double digits.
Here’s why: Wichita State scored 30 points in the paint to just six for Iowa. Yes, this was the biggest team Iowa has faced this season, but Iowa will see more teams like Wichita State in the Big Ten than not. Minnesota, Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State come to mind straight away and the Hawks play six games against those teams.
Offensive struggles have not been new to Iowa, as this is the fourth game in a row where the offense has been very tough in coming. However in the three previous games, Iowa’s opponents threw a lot of zone looks at the Hawkeyes. In this game, Wichita State played mostly man to man, which is a good strategy when you have the kind of athletic big men they have inside. Iowa didn’t have many answers and when they got past the first line of defense, one or two Shockers were there to block shots, alter shots or foul Iowa and make them earn it at the line.
This is an inexperienced Iowa team on the whole; the third least experienced team in the Big Ten according to Ken Pomeroy. But Iowa is also lacking in players who can get off their own shot. This issue will only get more magnified as the Hawkeyes enter Big Ten play in a month and a half. It’s not a great outside shooting team on the whole and needs to make things work in transition.
The transition baskets have been too few and too far between as of late and Iowa was outscored 11-0 in fast break points against Wichita State.
The Shockers have a solid team and should do no worse than second in the Missouri Valley Conference. They could play themselves into the NCAA tournament and will most assuredly be a bubble team, but it would be a middle of the pack team in the Big Ten.
That’s Iowa’s ceiling this year and while I pegged Iowa to lose to Wichita State in this game before the season and felt they’d be 5-1 leaving Cancun, which they are, the way in which Wichita State beat Iowa is a little disheartening.
Iowa returns to the court on Tuesday when they travel to Virginia Tech to take on the Hokies. The game will tip off at 6:15p and will be televised on ESPNU.