Hawkeyes plan to shoot selves out of slump

Iowa men's hoops had a cold night last time out, Jordan Bohannon the closest example

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IOWA CITY — Jordan Bohannon has what Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery called “incredible amnesia.” It’s well-documented that the freshman doesn’t let things faze him.

But after last Saturday’s loss at Michigan State — the one in which Bohannon went 0 of 8 from the field and 0 of 6 from 3-point range, with no points — it would’ve been impossible to just let that fade away and wake up the next morning with pep in his step.

Bohannon admitted Thursday he even had to step away from the gym and basketball completely for a short time in order to hit the reset button. McCaffery said he’d never seen Bohannon have a night like that, and the Linn-Mar grad confirmed as much.

Shooters keep shooting, and that’s what he’ll do, but there’s no doubting games like that are harder to shake.

“I went to my room and just didn’t talk to anyone for a little bit, just to put things in perspective. I just wanted to kind of reflect on my past years playing basketball,” Bohannon said. “That’s kind of what you have to do after one of those games — realize how far you came and where you want to go in the process. I tried to take some time off. We had an off day, so I didn’t touch a basketball, I didn’t really think about basketball for a little bit, just trying to put it in perspective why I’m here and where we all want to go. I took a little time off, didn’t really talk to anyone about basketball and got to work the next day after that.”

When he got back to work, the first shot he saw go through the net was cathartic.

Not that there was ever a doubt Bohannon would regain his stroke, but there was that sarcastic reaction most have when seeing a shooting streak broken. Every one that went in after that during that practice was reaffirming.

“It was one of those things where it was, ‘Wow, I can shoot the ball. I couldn’t hit it in the game but I can hit it now.’ That’s the mentality you need to have though,” Bohannon said. “I just realized, ‘You can shoot the ball. You don’t need to doubt your shot, even in times like that.’”

Obviously Bohannon wasn’t the only one to go cold from deep against Michigan State, as the rest of the guards also failed to make a 3-pointer and the group shot 5 of 32 from the field and 0 of 13 from 3-point range.

Iowa has several capable shooters, but it’s been rare that multiple shooters have been hot on the same night. It’s been Bohannon, Peter Jok, Brady Ellingson, Isaiah Moss or Nicholas Baer who have stepped up to carry the shooting weight. The Hawkeyes rank fifth in the Big Ten in 3-pointers made, but seventh in 3-point percentage at 35.9.

When it’s been good, outside shooting has been a catalyst for victory. Five of Iowa’s six conference wins have come with 40 percent or better 3-point shooting — highlighted by going 11 of 19 (57.9 percent) against Michigan and 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) against Rutgers on the road. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, as many times as it’s been good, it’s been bad. Five of Iowa’s seven conference losses have seen 3-point percentages worse than 30 percent — lowlighted by games at Purdue (4 of 17, 23.5 percent), at Northwestern (4 of 17, 23.5 percent), at Illinois (5 of 21, 21.7 percent) and the aforementioned 4 of 21 (19 percent) at Michigan State.

Bohannon’s night and experience after was just a microcosm of what all the shooters go through when a night has been far from what they wanted.

The fix, other than to just keep shooting? Ball movement with a purpose, as McCaffery talked about after the loss to the Spartans.

Baer highlighted Iowa’s spacing and drive-and-kicks being effective, as well as Bohannon and Jok’s range opening things up. Forward Cordell Pemsl said the purpose they want from the movement is “to score early in the shot clock or late in the shot clock. We don’t want to settle for anything in between. If we can score in transition, great, but if not we pull it out, get it moving and get guys open.”

Like Bohannon, the Hawkeyes as a whole believe if they have a short memory when it comes to bad shooting nights, they’ll be better for it. They also believe in what they have for shooters, so finding and having that purpose — coupled with simply shooting out of a slump — is what they think carries them forward, starting with their 1 p.m. tip Saturday against Illinois.

“We think we have a good shooting team, and I thought we had real good looks at it in that game and just didn’t make any,” McCaffery said, referencing Michigan State. “We always say screen and cut and move with a purpose, so you want guys to have open shots, all five guys have to screen and cut and move with a purpose. It’s really hard when a team is athletic that you’re playing and they’re up into you to be able to just create a shot. It’s really hard to do. So you’ve got to get it moving in order to do so.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8884; jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com

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