Iowa Men's Basketball

Deeper, healthier, stronger: All the Iowa men's basketball team needs is a schedule

Three players had surgeries, others shed or gained weight by need

Iowa's Luka Garza (55), Jordan Bohannon (3) and Joe Wieskamp (10) defend Illinois' Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) during a ba
Iowa’s Luka Garza (55), Jordan Bohannon (3) and Joe Wieskamp (10) defend Illinois’ Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) during a basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 20, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Its opening night is Nov. 25, presumably. Maybe its 2020-21 schedule will be released Tuesday, or sometime before the 25th.

The fifth-ranked Iowa men’s basketball team has gone through surgeries, rehabilitations from surgeries, intentional weight gains and intentional weight losses. Now it just needs a schedule.

“I have faith there will be an NCAA tournament,” Hawkeye senior guard Jordan Bohannon said Monday, “because that’s where the money comes from.”

But nothing starts at the end. A college basketball season actually starts as soon as the previous one is over, and for this Hawkeyes team, before that.

Bohannon had surgery on his left hip last December after playing in 10 games for the Iowa team that went on to a 20-11 season.

“I’m in the best shape of my life,” he said. “I lost about 15 pounds since last year. My mom doesn’t think I was, but I was kind of fat last year on the court. But I didn’t have a lot of rehab time (after surgery on his right hip in May 2019). This year I had a long time to get back, hopefully healthy.

“Everything’s starting to fall in line from where I thought I would be in a year-and-a-half from when I got the first hip surgery.”

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With 284 career 3-pointers, Bohannon is one of many veteran elements to the Hawkeyes. A newer piece to Iowa’s multipronged offensive weaponry is 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman forward Patrick McCaffery, who played in just the first two games last season. He wasn’t healthy, and was way too thin for Big Ten rigors.

McCaffery spent the offseason eating a lot and doing a lot of weightlifting. He said he weighed less than 6-foot Iowa freshman guard Joe Toussaint last season. McCaffery gained 25 pounds since then to get to get to over 200.

“I was a little skinny kid,” McCaffery said, “so I used to run around and never get tired, but when I came back this summer my conditioning was bad. That was a hurdle I had to go through, but I was able to kind of work my way through that and obviously I’m good now.”

McCaffery could be a breakthrough player this season.

“His thing is scoring,” said his brother, Iowa junior guard Connor McCaffery. “You know he’s going to score the ball and that’s what you’re going to see. He’s somebody who an get a lot of shots in a lot of different ways. He can make 3s, he can get in the lane and make floaters, pull-ups. He can get to the rim and obviously finish above the rim.

“He’s going to be able to finish through contact, which he might not have been able to do before.”

Sophomore starting guard CJ Fredrick had foot surgery in the offseason. “I feel great,” he said. Forward/center Jack Nunge, a fourth-year sophomore, had knee surgery after getting injured in Iowa’s fifth game last season. “The knee feels great,” he said.

Joe Wieskamp? The most-significant change the preseason All-Big Ten junior wing made in the offseason was getting engaged to be married. The second-most was from the work he did with weights.

“That’s definitely something I worked on, especially during the quarantine period,” Wieskamp said.

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“I’ve gained a couple pounds, but more so just gaining a lot of muscle to transform that weight a little bit.”

This deeper, healthier, more-chiseled team still lacks something, however. How about a schedule?

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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