It is my hope that Sunday marks the last breather before a difficult stretch of schedule, as well as the successful return of John Hart. While Hart gives us more versatility within the offense and another solid shooter, things are working so smoothly right now that I am almost hesitant to see him come back. We have a delicately balanced rotation of eight players right now: E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Kelsey Barlow, Ryne Smith, Terone Johnson, Lewis Jackson, D.J. Byrd, and Travis Carroll. At least on the scoring front, Carroll and Byrd have been the most silent of those eight. Still, they have each played their roles perfectly.
I don't know where Hart is going to fit into things with his return. Based on his stats, he has clearly earned his playing time. He gives us a point for almost every two minutes he is on the floor. His 3-point shooting ability can generate even more open looks for The Love Pump, who is so hot he's about to fuse to the floor right now. His minutes have to come at the expense of someone though. Most likely, he will take some from TJ, the Love Pump, and GDB.
That's why it is good we're facing Iowa in his first game back. It is a game we should win by a comfortable margin. Fran McCaffery saw us in his final game as head coach of Siena last year, and I expect a similar result Sunday. We also can't forget that this is our most hated rival.
2009-10 Record: 10-22, 4-14 Big Ten
2010-11 Record: 7-7, 0-2 Big Ten
Postseason Result: None
Blog Representation: Black Heart Gold Pants
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 82-70
Last Purdue win: 2/13/10 63-40 at Purdue
Last Iowa win: 2/21/07 78-59 at Iowa
Time & TV Noon on Big Ten Network
|Roy Devyn Marble||14||17.1||2.0||4.9||41.2||0.4||1.4||31.6||1.4||2.4||55.9||0.5||2.1||2.6||1.1||0.9||0.7||0.0||0.6||5.8|
When you have s seven game winning streak against any team in this conference it is usually because you're up while they are down. That is where we currently sit, as the two programs couldn't be farther apart. As we were praising Matt Painter for the masterful job he did coaching last season's Big Ten championship the reporters at the Big Ten Tournament were sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches to run Todd Lickliter out of town.
Enter Fran McCaffery. He was handed a roster fairly light on talent when the season began, but this is a team that is already showing great improvement. Yes, the season opening loss to South Dakota State by 10 was bad. The Hawkeyes have gotten better in each game. They were invited to the Paradise Jam where they grabbed a win over Alabama (despite losses to Long Beach State and Xavier). They blew a big lead at Wake Forest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but they fought Ohio State pretty hard earlier this week.
Iowa has some very good pieces to build on for the future. Melsahn Basabe had a bit of a coming out party in the Ohio State game, going for 22 points and 13 rebounds against Jared Sullinger. Unlike JJ, he is primarily a low block player, but he is going to be a good one in this league. After doing so well against the likely Freshman of the year in the League it will be interesting to see what he does against the experienced senior.
Matt Gatens, Eric May, and Bryce Cartwright have provided a scoring punch that also gives the Hawkeyes hope for the future. All three will be back next season with another year in McCaffery's system and another year of experience for Basabe. Jarryd Cole is also an experienced senior that is another big body to use on the front line. This is a team whose starters aren't that bad, but they lack much of the depth needed to compete in the Big Ten, especially on the road.
Statistically, this isn't that bad of a team. They score in the 70's often and they rebound very well. The shooting is 43% from the field, so they aren't horrible. The only major issue is turnovers at 15 per game. That is the number they had against Ohio State, while Cole and Andrew Brommer battled foul trouble. This is a scrappy team that can challenge us if we look past them. They are also playing very well at home. I am not looking forward to playing the final game of the conference season in Iowa City.
We certainly cannot take for granted any game, even at home. Yes, we're playing extremely well at this point and we should continue that trend. This is still a team playing hard for a new coach that has shown vast improvement since the start of the year. Already today Michigan State, Kansas State, Missouri, and Georgetown went down in games they probably should have won. Absolutely no one is safe, as proven by Michigan State's troubles in Happy Valley.
Both wins last year were very business-like victories by double-digits. JJ struggled in the first game but went for 21 and 10 in West Lafayette. E'Twaun's numbers were pedestrian (at least for him) in both games. Ultimately, nothing really stood out from either one. We were expected to win big, and did exactly that. That is what makes this game so hard to preview. It should be a dull, business-like win where nothing stands out, especially since it is in Mackey Arena. The Hawkeyes do have the talent to hang with us, so we can't make any assumptions.