Breaking Down the 2019-20 Iowa Basketball Roster

Story by Zach Weigel

The Hawks returned to the NCAA tournament for the fourth time under coach McCaffrey this past season, finishing 23-12 team with an inspiring loss in the second round to a good Tennessee team that spent a good chunk of the season ranked #1. However, the 2018-19 season is over with. Now it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2019-20 season.

Tyler Cook, Isaiah Moss, Nicholas Baer, and Maishee Dailey are all gone from this past year’s squad. After flirting with the a season ago, Cook has opted to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft for sure this time around. Dailey, who often received criticism from fans and media leaving is not much of a surprise [remember Hawkeye radio broadcaster Gary Dolphin was suspended for a critical comment levied at Dailey during the season]. Dailey’s a grad transfer and will be able to play immediately. Dailey’s elected to play-out his last year for the Akron Zips this coming season.

Moss’s departure is a bit more off-putting. The senior to be was rather inconsistent, but started at the 2 (shooting guard) spot for much of the past two seasons. As a grad transfer, perhaps Moss is looking for a fresh start. If he finishes up some summer classes, he’ll be able to play immediately. Moss has chosen to transfer to Arkansas (the Razorbacks).

Perennial sixth man Nicholas Baer’s collegiate basketball career has run its course as well. And let’s not forget, Assistant Coach Andrew Francis is gone too, opting to take a position with Cal (the University of California).

Altogether, when you total it up the Hawks will lose 43% of the minutes from last year’s team with Cook contributing 31mpg, Moss 24.1mpg, Baer 19.1mpg and, Dailey 12.4mpg. The Hawks will also lose 33% of their rebounding just from the tandem of Cook and Baer who finished first and third on the team last year in rebounding.

Cook and Baer were the top two shot-blockers on the team too, accounting for 54 of the team’s 112 blocks (48%). Combined, the four departing players also accounted for roughly half of the team’s steals (111/221, 50%). And let’s not forget, Baer and Moss were two of the team’s better three-point shooters too. Last year Baer shot 38.1% from behind the arc and Moss shot Moss 42.1%. Therefore, this all goes to say that the Hawks will be missing some key pieces next year.

Looking back, aside from Baer–a former walk-on and longtime darling of the Hawkeye faithful–the losses of Cook and Moss are met with bittersweet sentiments. Both Cook and Moss were key cogs for the Hawks, yet they both also drew the ire of some fans from time to time. While Cook was a force to be reckoned with inside, he struggled with turnovers throughout his career, notching a negative assist to turnover ratio last year (80 assists and 94 turnovers). And while Moss averaged double digit points, he was known for being extremely streaky within and between games. A bit bipolar, Moss had multiple games with less than 5 points and multiple games with more than 20 points.

Ergo, the with four departures, the Hawks will be a significantly different team next year. Thankfully, the Hawks have ample replacements ready to contribute. Cordell Pemsl, Jack Nunge, and CJ Frederick will all be eligible to play this coming year after taking redshirts this year. To boot, the Hawks gain a third McCaffrey in the 6-7 SG Patrick McCaffrey, and another ball-handler in 5-11 Joe Toussaint from New York.

2019-2020 Iowa Basketball Roster

Guards

Jordan Bohannon 6-1 185, from Marion; Senior

Joe Wieskamp 6-6 205, from Muscatine; Sophomore

Connor McCaffrey 6-5 205 G from IC West High; Sophomore

CJ Fredrick 6-3 190, from Cincinnati, Redshirt Freshman

Joe Toussaint 5-11 165, out of the Bronx NY, Freshman

Nicholas Hobbs 6-2 200, from Chicago; Junior

Austin Ash 6-2 170, out of Cedar Rapids; Sophomore

Forwards

Ryan Kriener 6-9 255, from Spirit Lake; Senior

Patrick McCaffrey [#62 prospect on the 2019 ESPN100] 6-9 190, from Iowa City; Freshman

Riley Till 6-7 205, from Dubuque; Junior

Michael Baer 6-6 200, from the Quad Cities; Junior

Bigs

Luka Garza 6-11 245, from Washington  D.C.; Junior

Jack Nunge 6-11 235, from Indiana; Redshirt Sophomore

Cordell Pemsl 6-8 230, from Dubuque; Redshirt Junior

Analyzing the 2019-20 Roster

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, there will only be 11 scholarship players on the roster (just this week Coach McCaffrey announced that Riley Till would be placed on scholarship), leaving two potential open slots for a transfer or late commitment from a recruit. McCaffrey has never nabbed a grad transfer in nine years at the helm, but the Hawks could use one (or two) given their small roster.

Unfortunately, a few sought after grad transfers have already turned the Hawks down. DJ Harvey, a 6-foot-6 wing transferring from Notre Dame, picked Vanderbilt over Iowa. He was the No. 49 prospect in class of 2017 and averaged 10.7ppg last year for the Fighting Irish. With two years of eligibility remaining, the hawks would certainly have liked to nab Harvey.

The Hauser brothers, transferring from Marquette, also spurned the Hawkeyes. Like Harvey, the Hausers will have to sit out a year since they’re not grad transfers. They’re reportedly choosing from the likes of Wisconsin and Virginia.

Among the players looking to make a name for themselves, perhaps redshirt freshman CJ Frederick can step in and be a key contributor to fill-in for Moss. Coach McCaffrey has been effusive, heaping praise on Frederick during this past season’s press conferences. According to Coach, he can dribble, shoot, and facilitate. Let’s hope he can perform against tough competition, not just in practice.

Joe Toussaint, could factor in too. As a ball-handler, Toussaint will likely compete with Connor McCaffrey to spell Bohannon at the point.

When it comes to replacing Cook, Nunge and Pemsl will have the opportunity to carve out roles for themselves. Surprisingly, Nunge opted to take redshirt year to bulk-up after getting into the mix a bit his freshman year (the 2017-18 season). Rumour has it that Nunge has bulked up to 250lbs. If so, maybe Nunge can replace some of the flare that Cook commanded at the Forward position.

Pemsl played in only a couple games last year due to a nagging knee injury that ultimately required season ending surgery. Known for his tough, inspiring play, Pemsl will assuredly be relied upon as a bell-cow to rally the troops this upcoming season.

The other rookie to be, Patrick McCaffrey, could factor into the rotation as well, if he can handle the rough n’ tough B10 Conference. Patrick (PMac) is a rangy shooter that figures to play the 2 or 3 spot. Barring a major injury to Weiskamp, chances are high that PMac might ultimately be better off taking a redshirt season to bulk up. After all, with Weiskamp testing the NBA waters this year, it’s likely that PMac could step-into a sizeable role once Weiskamp elects to enter the NBA.

Last Season’s Stat Line’s for Returning Players

Garza  23.6mpg, 13.1ppg, 4.5rpg, -0.4 assist to turnover ratio per game (ATOR), 80.4% FT shooter

JoBo  31.1mpg, 11.6ppg, +1.0 ATOR, 38.1% on threes (the new all time 3pt makes record holder), 87.2% FT shooter

Weezy  27.7mpg, 11.1ppg, 4.9rpg, +1.0 ATOR, 42.4% on 3s, returning leader in steals, 76.7% FTs, 

Kriener  13.8mpg, 5.7ppg, 3rpg, -0.3 ATOR, 33.3% on 3s, 68.5% FT shooter

CMac  18.6mpg, 4.4ppg, +1.7 ATOR, 20.7% on 3s, 75.3% FT shooter

*M. Baer, Hobbs, Till, and Ash altogether played a total of 145 minutes. Therefore, it’d be like comparing apples to oranges to throw their per-game statistics into the mix 145/1,415 total minutes equates to just barely 10% of the team’s total minutes between the four players).

Here’s how the lineup could shape up next year, with estimated minutes per game (mpg):

5 players x 40 minutes in a game yields 200 minutes per game to be doled out

Starters

JoBo (30-35mpg)

Toussaint (15-20mpg)

Weezy (30-35mpg)

Kriener (15-20mpg)

Garza (20-25mpg)

Key Contributors

Frederick (15-20mpg)

Connor McCaffrey [aka CMac] (10-15mpg)

Pemsl (15-20mpg)

Nunge (15-20mpg)

Reserves

Patrick McCaffrey- Redshirt

Hobbs (spot duty when the game is in doubt)

Ash (spot duty when the game is in doubt)

Till (spot duty when the game is in doubt)

M. Baer (spot duty when the game is in doubt)

Analysis of Playing Time

Is this how playing time will actually play-out next year? Of course not. It’s quite possible (perhaps even likely) that the Hawks will pick-up a grad transfer this summer who will step-in a play. It’s also possible that something unforeseen happens–like another player leaving or a season-ending injury to a key player. Who knows, maybe PMac won’t redshirt and will significantly factor into the 2019-20 lineup. And maybe Riley Till will be in the rotation seeing as Coach McCaffrey put him on scholarship.

However, for the time being, with all the information we have, this is my take on how the 2019-20 Hawks could look.

Looking Ahead

Coming off of their NCAA tournament run, the Hawks will have a tough schedule for the upcoming season. In the non-conference, thus far we know they will play @Iowa State, an ACC-B10 Challenge game, a Gavitt game against a Big East opponent, and the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational over Thanksgiving (the four team tournament features NCAA runner-up Texas Tech, Creighton, and San Diego State).

In the B10 the Hawks will play 20 games against conference foes once again too. The B10 should prove to be one of the top conferences once again next year with four teams checking into the top-10 of ESPN’s Way Too Early Top-25 for the 2019-20 season (Maryland at 9, Ohio State at 7, Michigan at 5, and Michigan State at 1).

As a fringe top-25 team (according to most ‘way-to-early’ rankings), the Hawks have some voids to fill and some questions to answer. Who will replace Moss, Cook, and Baer? Who will play Point Guard? Will PMac redshirt?

However, the Hawks have proven talent in Weiskamp and Bohannon. JoBo has a knack for knocking down threes and performing in the clutch (remember the Northwestern game?). And Weezy oozes potential with his God-given talent. If JoBo can continue to perform in the clutch and Weezy can command more of a role for himself, then the Hawks will be alright with their guard play. The youngsters (CMac, Frederick, and Toussaint) should be able to perform serviceably. If they’re better than serviceable, that’s a huge plus. Maybe it’d finally prevent the late-season slide that the Hawks have been accustomed too under Coach McCaffrey seeing as guard play always becomes more important in March.

This past year Garza showed tremendous promise on the offensive end of the court. If he can ratchet up his defense, he could be a star. Reinforcing Garza wil be Kriener, Nunge, and Pemsl. Along with Garza, Kriener and Nunge can shoot the three, but struggle at time on the defense end. Luckily, Pemsl has bit more of a defensive prowess with his tenacious play. Not to mention his uncanny touch with difficult shots in the paint (usually followed by emphatic bouts of jubilee and a scream of ‘And-one!’).

So, the pieces are there for the Hawks to make some noise this coming year. It’s shaping up to be a smaller rotation with just 9 or 10 players seeing meaningful minutes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

There’s a mix of young bloods looking to prove themselves (Toussaint, PMac, Frederick), a slew of sizeable sophomores (Weezy, CMac, Nunge), some hungry juniors (Garza and Pemsl), and a few senior leaders (JoBo and Kriener). The Hawks will no longer have the excuse of being a young team as most of the rotation will feature players who have proven themselves already.

Will another NCAA Tournament berth be in the cards? Yes, barring catastrophe, the Hawks should make the NCAAs again. But will they ever make it past the Round of 32, or to the weekend at the B10 Tournament? Those are the bigger feats that the new-look 2019-20 Hawkeye Basketball team will reckon with the coming season.

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