Mar 6, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Print View
CEDAR RAPIDS — Fran McCaffery has more good players from Iowa coming to his University of Iowa men’s basketball program in years to come, and not all of them live in his house.
Two do, though, and they’re going back to the Iowa state tournament. Then there’s a teenage friend of the family who lives about 35 miles from Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“He should be Mr. Basketball,” Muscatine Coach Gary Belger insisted about 6-foot-6 junior Joe Wieskamp after a game in which the crowd didn’t really get the Full Joe, and yet ...
Wieskamp scored 28 points, had a sensational blocked shot of what looked like a breakaway layup by Devontae Lane (who had a superb 21-point game), made several sweet passes, and fit the prototype of what a top recruit looks like.
The problem was, Wieskamp and the Muskies faced Iowa City West. Like swallows to Capistrano and salmon to the Columbia River, the Trojans make an annual return to Des Moines.
West is headed to its seventh-straight state tourney after its surgical 83-44 Class 4A substate final victory over Muscatine. Maybe this will be the one in which 6-6 senior Connor McCaffery tastes his second title (the first came when he was a freshman in 2014), and shares it with 6-7 sophomore brother Patrick McCaffery.
“I think so,” Connor said. “I’m really excited. If we defend well, I think we have a really good chance.”
They defended well Tuesday. With help, Connor defended Wieskamp well.
“He’s good,” West Coach Steve Bergman said about Wieskamp. “I thought we made him struggle. Well, ‘struggle’ is not the right word. We made him work hard.”
Connor McCaffery had 19 points and played a terrific two-way game.
“Connor is so much better than he was last year,” said Bergman, “and he was damn good last year.
“It’s his leadership for this team. I think the last two years we suffered from a lack of leadership. He just said ‘I’ll be the leader, I’m taking care of the problems, and I’m going to lead by example.’ ”
Brother Patrick is a true-blue blue-chipper. He can shoot, pass and run. He is so fluid for a sophomore his height.
“He’s growing like crazy and he’s skinny as heck,” Bergman said, “but this year he’s kind of growing into his body and he’s more comfortable.”
Then there’s Wieskamp, who played on a team that lost by 39 points Tuesday and only affirmed he’s a big-time prospect. He scores inside and out, has NBA 3-point range, averages 10 rebounds. He’s long, he’s quick, he attacks.
“He gets up there with that pull-up,” Connor McCaffery said. “He kind of has a weird shot. He goes up with the ball a little behind his head so you can’t block it because he’s so long, too. You’re there, but he’s still getting it off. The best you can do is get in his face. ... He’s a great player.”
Wieskamp will be an off guard/small forward at Iowa. Without sounding a bit like a braggart, he said he thinks he resembles Jok in “just the way I’m able to knock down a shot.”
“I think I can take it to the rim a little harder than he has this season. I’m not saying I’m a better player than him by any means, but I think I’m a similar player.”
He still has a year of high school left. Pity the players that guard him next season.