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IOWA CITY — Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery has a bit of a dilemma on his hands.
A good one, from his perspective, but a dilemma nonetheless.
The Hawkeyes have to make a transition from a long-developed rotation and lineup that included seniors Jarrod Uthoff, Adam Woodbury, Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons to one that will feature Peter Jok, Dom Uhl, Nicholas Baer, Ahmad Wagner and a bunch more guys who haven’t played significant time for Iowa.
Granted, highly-touted freshman Tyler Cook is one of those bunch, as is Dubuque Wahlert grad Cordell Pemsl and Linn-Mar grad Jordan Bohannon. There’s enough guys competing for minutes, though, that McCaffery and his staff have plenty of work to do before they know how the Hawkeyes will be deployed.
“I think it’s a little early for (a starting five),” McCaffery said Tuesday at the team’s media day. “I mean, I think you could pencil in some guys, but six, seven, eight, nine, we’ve got too many guys, and that’s a good problem to have. A lot of times you get to this point and you look and say, ‘OK, well, these three guys are definitely not playing.’ I don’t have that with this team. Everybody is doing good things, scoring the ball, and playing smart.”
McCaffery expanded a little more on the next question he was asked.
The Hawkeyes are likely to have at least 10 players in their rotation this season, and possibly more. Beyond the aforementioned Jok, Uhl, Baer, Wagner, Cook, Pemsl and Bohannon, guards Dale Jones, Christian Williams, Brady Ellingson and Isaiah Moss, as well as forward Ryan Kriener all will be vying for spots on the floor.
“Yeah, I think that’s safe to say (there will be at least 10),” McCaffery said. “It’s hard to go 11, 12. Ten, nine, eight, is a lot easier. But it may be hard to cut it off there with this group, because we have so many guys that they all at least do one or two things really well that we’ll want to get in there.”
Every college coach is high on his team at this point of the season, but McCaffery insisted his staff’s decision on playing time across the board will only get harder if the team performs in practice the way they have been so far.
Such a youthful team brings a lot of energy to practice, and a ton of time where everyone pushes each other. McCaffery said there’s not been the same break-in period other teams have needed to get on the same page.
A deep rotation can serve a basketball team well over the course of a season, but only if everyone in that rotation can come in and not miss a beat. To listen to McCaffery tell it, the Hawkeyes are well on their way to that happening.
“I don’t have a mistake maker. I don’t have a guy who’s confused every day,” McCaffery said. “I don’t have a guy who’s out of shape. So we’ve got stiff competition for what minutes are available, and there’s a lot of minutes available. They’re going after them.”
(ALMOST) FULL COURT FRESHMEN
A deep Iowa men’s basketball rotation means all of the above, yes, but it also means there won’t be much in the way of redshirts for the 2016-17 season.
In fact, Coach Fran McCaffery confirmed at the end of media day Wednesday there will be just one: freshman Riley Till, saying “it’s just him.”
McCaffery’s decision follows the same amount of designations he made last year, with just one, in guard Isaiah Moss. The Hawkeyes only have three other players on the roster who have redshirted at any point in their career, with guards Brady Ellingson and Nicholas Baer joining Moss.
Till, a 6-foot-6, 192-pound guard, played alongside Hawkeyes forward Cordell Pemsl at Dubuque Wahlert.
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