April 18, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Combining an NIT runner-up finish with 10 of its 11 active scholarship men's basketball players returning, many college basketball insiders like where the University of Iowa men's basketball team stands heading into the 2013-14 season.
The Hawkeyes' 25 wins and sixth-place Big Ten finish this season has many college basketball insiders liking the direction the Iowa basketball program is headed. With senior Eric May being the only departing scholarship senior, the Hawkeyes will return 92 percent of the team's scoring, 90 percent of the team's rebounds, 95 percent of the team's blocks and 89 percent of the team's minutes played in 2013-14. Iowa also adds freshman Peter Jok and redshirts Jarrod Uthoff and Kyle Myer to the mix.
CBS SportsNet college basketball insider, and frequent guest host of the Tim Brando Show, Jon Rothstein said Fran McCaffery has a team that will be among the Big Ten's elite next season. Rothstein positions the Hawkeyes 17th in his April top-25 preseason poll.
"The Hawkeyes return virtually their entire team and add two quality newcomers in Jarrod Uthoff and freshman wing Peter Jok," said Rothstein. "Mike Gesell and Devyn Marble should be electric together in the backcourt, while Melsahn Basabe, Aaron White and Adam Woodbury hold down the frontcourt. Keep an eye on Josh Oglesby, who needs to emerge as a consistent threat from 3-point range."
Scott Gleeson of USA Today forecasts Iowa at No. 16 in his early look at the top teams next season.
"The Hawkeyes were extremely close to netting an NCAA tournament bid in 2012-13, eventually falling to the NIT due to several narrow losses to Big Ten powers Indiana, Michigan State and Wisconsin," wrote Gleeson. "Returning starters Mike Gesell, Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White led Iowa to the NIT championship game. That experience will give Iowa the confidence it needs to turn those close losses into wins come next season."
ESPN college basketball writer Jason King and Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy both slot the Hawkeyes 25th in their respective rankings.
"The Hawkeyes missed the NCAA Tournament, but they should feel good about going 9-9 in the rugged Big Ten and finishing second in the NIT," said King. "Both were major accomplishments for a rapidly improving program. Don't be surprised if 2013-14 is the season when Iowa turns the corner. With teams such as Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and likely Michigan losing a lot, the well-coached Hawkeyes have a chance to finish as high as third in the Big Ten while earning an NCAA tournament bid for the first time since 2006."
Hawkeye players are taking the publicity in stride, remaining humble.
"It's nice to see our accomplishments this season being noticed nationally," said junior-to-be Aaron White. "It's positive news for the program. That said, we know we need to work hard this offseason and continue to get better."
"We're looking forward to getting back on the court this offseason and improving," said senior-to-be Zach McCabe. "Gaining extra practices and playing games over in Europe this summer will only help us be prepared for when we start back up in the fall."
Iowa will celebrate its 2012-13 season on Thursday, April 25 at the team's annual banquet. A limited number of tickets are available to the public. Call 1-800-IA-HAWKS or order online at hawkeyesports.com.