UNI Panthers

UNI men's basketball: 3 takeaways from a 4-5 start

What needs to change for Panthers before Valley play?

UNI freshman point guard A.J. Green (4) might benefit from starting more possessions off the ball. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
UNI freshman point guard A.J. Green (4) might benefit from starting more possessions off the ball. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — The Northern Iowa men’s basketball team entered this past Saturday’s game against Division-III Dubuque on a three-game losing streak. After narrowly defeating the Spartans, UNI coach Ben Jacobson said his team is “out of sorts.”

Here are three takeaways from Jacobson’s weekly press conference.

1. Offense set to adjust as it seeks comfort

Jacobson said on media day in mid-September that his team’s offense was at times operating with so much pace it nearly made him want to pull his hair out. Now, nearly a third of the way through the season, UNI (4-5) finds itself searching for the right adjustments to get its offense on track.

“I like what we’re doing (offensively), but we’ve got to make some adjustments within what we’re doing,” Jacobson said. “We’ve got to (adjust) either with what we’re doing offensively and with what we’ve worked at, or, adding some things to our offense. The basketball needs to touch the paint more often, whether that’s with the dribble or we throw it inside.”

2. No lineup or rotation changes, yet

UNI has started the same five and used a similar rotation in all nine games. After being on the road the entire month of November, Jacobson said they’re using the practices before Saturday’s game against No. 21 Iowa (7-2) in Des Moines (6 p.m., BTN) to adjust the offense and fundamental improvements on defense.

Asked if lineup or rotation changes are among the considered adjustments, Jacobson said, “No, not at this point.”

“From a lineup standpoint we saw a different lineup in that second half (Saturday) with Ty (Pickford) playing the majority of that second half,” Jacobson said. “So, right now I don’t (anticipate changes), but we’ve got an entire week here to see what’s going to be best for us in terms of what those lineups look like.”

3. Green improving with experience

Starting point guard A.J. Green has already experienced ups and downs in his career that’s just nine games old. Averaging 15.8 points per game, the freshman struggled to score in back-to-back losses to Utah State and South Dakota State, scoring 7 and 5 points, respectively.

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Jacobson says his young point guard will get better by simply continuing to gain experience, but also acknowledged that Green could benefit from occasionally moving off-ball.

“In terms of A.J. and his role in (adjustments); being able to get some things where he’s off the ball a little bit,” Jacobson said. “Just moving him around a little bit so that everything that he does doesn’t have to be with the dribble. Because then you’ve got a lot of people looking at you.”

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