MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Lack of expectations doesn’t bother Hawkeyes | Basketball



INDIANAPOLIS – Connor McCaffery almost wouldn’t want it any other way.

“We’re never chosen very high in these polls, but we always seem to find a way to finish higher, to be in the thick of it,” the senior Iowa goaltender said on media day Thursday. Big Ten basketball court at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. .

Beyond the confines of Hawkeye’s locker room, high expectations do not accompany Iowa in the 2021-22 season.

In a Big Ten filled with returning talent, the Hawkeyes find themselves replacing Consensus National Player of the Year Luka Garza and sniper Joe Wieskamp, ​​a pair of players now employed by NBA teams. .

Iowa was selected ninth in a league-wide media poll released earlier this week, unfamiliar territory even to coach Fran McCaffery as he enters his 12th season with the Hawkeyes.

“It will be a really new experience for all of us,” said McCaffery. “When you get the National Player of the Year award and two guys go into the NBA and a team of really talented young players, all of whom are going to take on new roles, I think it’s an exciting challenge for any coach. “

Jordan Bohannon, back for a sixth season but choosing to move from point to a shooting guard post, is one of the Hawkeyes who are adapting to new roles.

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Like his trainer, he is looking forward to this challenge.

“It’s an opportunity for me to work on some things that will benefit my game in the future,” said Bohannon. “It’s been good for me. We have a good point in Joe and Connor can slide in there too. I’m learning with everyone.”

He believes Iowa is well positioned to compete at a level above his preseason expectations as the season progresses.

“We’re going to be able to play a fast attack, score points on the board, and I feel like a lot of people are going to be able to contribute,” said Bohannon. “I feel like we have a lot of potential and the more we work, the more I feel it.”

Connor McCaffery has recovered from surgery on both hips this offseason.

He returned to the baseball field earlier this fall for the Hawkeyes, meeting his September 1 deadline to return to the field and returning to the basketball court later in the month.

Having a fixed goal to work towards and the lessons learned from Bohannon and his rehabilitation after surgery similar to the two suffered by Connor McCaffery has been an advantage.

“They did one hip and then the other, so I even got to learn things from the first operation when I re-educated the second,” McCaffery said. “It was good to be back on the baseball field and now on the field.”

He said he probably trained with his basketball teammates just under a dozen times since being cleared to compete.

There is a different feeling on the training ground this year, he said.

“I think with everyone trying to figure out where they fit in, it has added some competitiveness to our practices,” said Connor McCaffery. “It’s always been there in the past for games and big days, but now it’s everyday.”

Fran McCaffery hasn’t shied away from deepening his bench in the past and has said this could turn out to be the deepest team he’s had in Iowa.

“We have a great character, a great ability, we just have to understand each other’s roles,” he said.

It remains a work in progress and he said Bohannon and Connor McCaffery, as well as third-year point guard Joe Toussaint, will be counted to lead a relatively young squad.

“We need our veterans to play like veterans,” said the Iowa coach. “It’s a good league, it still is.”

Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue were at the epicenter of the conference playoff talks.

Hailing Kofi Cockburn’s return, Fighting Illini’s fifth-year coach Brad Underwood sees another muddled chase to the championship.

He said ongoing work will only be part of the equation to determine which team could emerge in March as champions of the Big Ten tournament when the conference teams return to the renowned downtown arena. of Indianapolis.

“We have had a very productive summer. This is something neither of us could have a year ago and I think it will benefit everyone, ”Underwood said. “There are a lot of good players who have chosen to come back this season, guys who will make a difference.

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