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IOWA CITY — Point guard is an every other day kind of proposition at this point for Iowa men's basketball.
Coach Fran McCaffery has said on multiple occasions this fall that the lineup and rotation is fluid — outside of Peter Jok that is — and nothing better exemplifies that than the point guard position. Sophomore Christian Williams and freshman Jordan Bohannon are competing for the starting spot as the primary ballhandler for the Hawkeyes, and it seems no two days are alike when it comes to who has the edge.
Their games and what they bring to Iowa's offense are very different, so there's no clear-cut answer yet.
'I don't think either one is ahead of the other right now,' McCaffery said. 'What's interesting about it is, at different times, one's been ahead of the other. But collectively, I think they're about the same (now).
'I think I have a lineup I'll go with, but that could change between now and Nov. 11.'
It's an age-old narrative, the one in which two guys competing for the same spot raise the level of play through competitiveness and desire. With their inexperience — Bohannon being a true freshman, and Williams seeing limited action in 20 games last year — it's harder for their coach and teammates to say they're raising the level of play for everyone in this process, but it's certainly kept them on their toes.
They don't know, going into a given practice, who's going to wear the black side (the first team) or gold side (second team) of their practice jersey until they see the plan.
The closer the Hawkeyes get to their regular season opener, the higher the likelihood of that being the case when it comes to starting the games, too. Friday's exhibition against Regis will be the first time McCaffery will trot the team out publicly — Iowa had a closed scrimmage Sunday — and the first time anyone will get a glimpse at how the pair will be used.
'It depends on who works harder the day before, who gets put on first team,' Bohannon said. 'I have to have that mindset going into each day. The team might switch the next day, depending on how hard you work this day.
'I guess it'll just depend on matchups and who's playing well each game.'
Williams agreed, but added an important caveat: whichever player is best at what they do best will see more of the floor.
For Williams, it's defense and creating shots for others. For Bohannon, it's creating his own shot and shooting from the perimeter. Senior guard Peter Jok said last week it's been an adjustment working with two guys who aren't Mike Gesell or Anthony Clemmons, but that Bohannon is 'not playing like a freshman,' and that 'they're (both) getting better.'
Williams has worked hard to increase his knowledge of the offense, because 'I have to know everyone's position,' which in effect has forced him to work on his leadership skills. For Bohannon, it's been working on his ball-handling, and getting more secure and strong with the ball.'
Given Williams' defensive prowess and Bohannon's offensive affinity, their going at each other every day in practice has played right into what they've both wanted and needed to work on.
The other aspect to not having nailed down a clear-cut guy at point guard is that both Williams and Bohannon have the ability to play off the ball. McCaffery did that with Clemmons and Gesell last year, and most likely will this year. Williams said he's run at the small forward and shooting guard positions when playing off the ball, and Bohannon has run as the shooting guard on occasion, too.
Who starts is 'almost irrelevant' for McCaffery because of what he has to work with.
'We will have a talented player at that position. We can have Christian bringing it down and Jordan shoot the ball, coming off screens, throwing out on the break. He's really good from 3-point range,' McCaffery said. 'I do think we have multiple players who can be effective and will be ready to play — not only in terms of understanding the physicality of what this is, but also the complexity from an Xs and Os standpoint.'
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