The Iowa Hawkeyes basketball team opens up tonight in exhibition play against the University of Sioux Falls. They are coming off a season in which they made the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes finished third in the Big Ten a year ago and are looking to build on that success.
It is a team that does return a lot of experience but they do miss key contributors in Aaron White and Gabe Olaseni. White was the unquestioned leader of the team while Olaseni was one of the best sixth men in all the country.
The answer to that? An infusion of youth but they do return some top tier talent such as forward Jarrod Uthoff who was named to the preseason all-Big Ten second team. The senior was second on the team during the 2014-2015 campaign in scoring, rebouding, steals, and blocked shots. He lead Iowa in three point field goals made.
A native of Cedar Rapids, Uthoff was the only Division I player a year ago to amass 55 or more blocks, 50 or more three pointers, and 35 or more steals. He will be the center of the Hawkeye offense this year. He won't be trying to do too much, though.
"I just want to go out and play my game," Uthoff said. "I want to do whatever I can to win. I feel like it's a team game. We just have to focus on what we do best, go out there and play Iowa basketball."
Fran McCaffery noted in his press conference that he's looking for Uthoff to be more aggressive on the offensive end and look for his shot more this year. They will need to find more offense and he's a likely candidate to increase his scoring chances. Uthoff is just focused on doing what he can to contribute and will not press the action.
"I'm older, more experienced," he stated. "I just have to pick my spots. It all depends on the flow of the game. If (my teammates) are going off, I'm going to let them go off and score. If I need to make shots, I'll come in and make shots. I don't feel like I need to press."
His versatility will be key this year and he'll be asked to play in the post more this year in addition to knocking down shots from the outside. With the loss of Aaron White, he'll be one of the guys that needs to use his length to impact the game closer to the basket.
"Yeah, absolutely (I'm prepared to step up in the post)," Uthoff shared. "I'm comfortable playing inside and out."
It's his final season but Uthoff urges that it will not have an affect on his game. A lot of players take a big step in their senior year but he's always given 100 percent effort each season.
"I've always had a sense of urgency," he pointed out. "My whole career has been a sense of urgency. I don't feel like since it is my last year that I should try any harder. I've been trying hard my whole career."