Iowa 92, Northwood 51

The Iowa men’s basketball season unofficially tipped off today with an exhibition game against Northwood University, which is apparently an NAIA powerhouse. (Northwood, I learned before the game, is coached by Rollie Massimino. Massimino won the NCAA championship in 1985 as the coach of Villanova.)

It was nice to be back in Carver for the first time since March. The smell of popcorn, the echo of the buzzer, the squeak of shoes on the parquet. A couple weeks ago, Sweets told me about an ESPN article that ranked the court at Carver as one of the top ten best designed in the country ( Sure, I’ll go with it. The black sidelines, baselines, and keys have grown on me over the years, but I have fond memories of the old, gold-dominated design from the Tom Davis era. The parquet, though, is classic and should always be part of the Iowa men’s and women’s basketball programs, much as it is for the Boston Celtics. I am surprise the author of the article did not mention it.

Despite a slow and sloppy start, and a pesky Northwood team that kept the score pretty close throughout the first half, the Hawks looked good. The post-Devyn Marble era begins and the Hawkeye men will need to replace his production (most notably his 30 minutes and 17 points per game last year). I think they will be able to do that and expect the Hawks to play better as a cohesive unit. Aaron White played well from the tipoff and Jarrod Uthoff quietly emerged as the game progressed, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Gabriel Olaseni is poised to have a breakout year, and he came off the bench to score nine points in 20 minutes. Josh Olgesby was 3-7 from behind the arc for his nine points. Anthony Clemmons and Mike Gesell both started as guards, but it was hard to tell who ran the offense. There has been a lot of talk about having Gesell play more as a shooting guard and having Clemmons play point, but it seemed Gesell was the default point guard when they were both on the court. That situation will eventually work itself out. Clemmons slimmed down in the off-season and has vowed to be more aggressive, which he was today, notching four steals. Peter Jok, who was arrested twice during the off-season for driving violations, led all Hawkeyes in scoring with 16 points.

The season-opening exhibition game is when most Hawkeye fans get their first glimpse of freshmen and new players, and they shone today. Freshmen Dom Uhl and junior college transfer Trey Dickerson were impressive. Uhl played 24 minutes and scored six points, but his defense was tenacious, sticking to his man like glue. Dickerson spelled Gesell and Clemmons at the point and displayed quick footwork, excellent ball-handling skills, and great shooting.

The season officially tips off on November 14 and I am looking forward to watching another season of Hawkeye men’s basketball!

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