Nov. 1, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- BTN analyst Jim Jackson believes the University of Iowa men's basketball team has the depth and talent base to be playing in the NCAA Tournament this season.
"Without a question, this is an NCAA team," said Jackson during Big Ten Basketball Media Day on Oct. 31 in Rosemont, Ill. "They have the talent and the balance in the front and back court."
Jackson says Iowa's misfortunes in tight Big Ten games a season ago will be beneficial to the team in 2013-14. Seven of the Hawkeyes' eight losses in Big Ten play came by margins of four points or less, including four games by three points or less.
"Think about the games they had last year that were close, where a turnover here or missed shot there turns their season," said Jackson. "They'll have those experiences to draw on, and I look for a lot of big things out of Iowa. Right now they are teetering at the No. 4-5 spot coming into the season."
"Without a question, this is an NCAA team. They have the talent base and the balance in the front and back court."
BTN analyst Jim Jackson
For the Hawkeyes to take the step Jackson (and many nationally) are predicting, the key will be winning the games they're expected to.
"You have to win the games you're supposed to and not sink in the ones you're not," said Jackson. "You can't go to the tournament if you lose games you're not supposed to, in particular at home. You kick yourself later on because you let a couple slip away."
With UI head coach Fran McCaffery expected to use an 11-man rotation, Jackson says depth will be to the Hawkeyes' advantage, along with maturity and experience.
"You have Aaron White, Melsahn Basabe... and Adam Woodbury is getting better," he said. "When you have an inside presence, that's key. Roy Devyn Marble, from a maturity perspective, understands what he needs to do, and with Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons having a year under their belts, they understand it a lot more.
"They have a good base and foundation. They're going to be balanced, and Fran is going to have his guys mentally ready to play."
Jackson says Marble's ability to create makes him one of the keys for Iowa this season.
"He's a guy that can get to the basket, get his own shot, but also creates," said Jackson. "I know Fran is going to play him a lot at the point and at times, put him off the ball and allow him to create from the wing.
"If he can keep his turnovers down, shoot a high percentage and draw the defense in, he's going to be able to open a lot of things up for his teammates."
The Hawkeyes face Augustana (Ill.) in an exhibition Sunday afternoon at 3:35 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa's regular season opener is Nov. 8 against UNC-Wilmington beginning at 8:30 p.m.