Derek Young/SCOUT

Iowa Basketball: Kennesaw State Notes

The Iowa Basketball team opens up their regular season Friday against the Kennesaw State Owls. Lets take a look at what the Owls bring to the table.

What to Know

The Owls are coached by Al Skinner, who was hired in April of 2015. Skinner will be entering his second season as the head coach after going 11-20 overall in his first season. Skinner is a former two time Big East Coach of the Year at Boston College (2001 & 2005) and former National Coach of the Year back in 2001. He's coaching a team that is fairly young and that went 0-10 in non-conference road games last season.

Their roster contains just three seniors, to go along with two juniors, four sophomores, and six freshman. They lost their second leading scorer from a season ago in Yonel Brown, who averaged 18.6 points per game, so those are big shoes that someone will have to fill.

They won their exhibition game against Georgia Southern by a final count of 60-58 although they trailed for a majority of the game. Their tallest starter runs 6'8" and that is Jordan Jones. He averaged 3.5 points and 3.5 boards per game last season in around 19 minutes per. 

A primary reason why they won their game against Georgia Southern was because they picked up the half court defensive pressure in the second half and were extremely aggressive on the offensive glass. We saw the Hawkeyes struggle a bit on the defensive glass last Friday so this could be something to look for this Friday.

After doing some looking, the Owls were picked by many to finish dead last in the Atlantic Sun Conference this season.

Key Players

I mentioned the fact that the Owls only possess three seniors and one of those seniors played in just two games last season. Kendrick Ray, one of two seniors that'll contribute, is going to be the primary option for the Owls on Friday night. He led the team in scoring last season at 18.7 points per game and won newcomer on the year in the A-Sun after transferring in from Quinnipiac. He was also second on the team in rebounding, hauling in 174 total rebounds, which was an average of 5.6 per game. Ray also led his team in assists. 

At 6'2" 188 pounds, he doesn't bring too much to the table that'll overwhelm you in terms of height and power. He struggled mightily in the Owls' exhibition contest playing 31 minutes and scoring 11 points on just 2-16 shooting. Ray also had four assists, four turnovers, and was 0-5 from behind the arc.

Ray will be the Owls' go to guy on Friday night.

Aubrey Williams is the other senior and was the Owls' best player last Friday against GA Southern. He recorded 12 points and 11 rebounds in the win while shooting 6-8 from the field. He also tallied two steals on the evening. Williams, like Ray, will start for Skinner's team and will play a forward spot. He'll matchup nicely in terms of height with the Hawkeye front line. Williams runs about 6'7" and 230 pounds. 

He was third on the team in scoring last season at around 8 points per game and led his squad in rebounding with 6.3 per game. He'll be called upon to step up now that Brown is gone and contribute a bit more in the scoring department. 

One final player I'd like to look at his redshirt freshman, Tyler Hooker. Hooker did not play last season considering he redshirted, but does show some promise entering his second season in the program. He scored 10 points on 3-6 shooting last Friday night coming off the bench. The only glaring mark on his stat sheet was the fact that he turned the ball over three times in 20 minutes. Hooker played a bit like a freshman, but did show some promise for Skinner's squad.

Key Stats

Ray's shooting percentage from the first game last Friday would suggest that he is a bit of a volume shooter. He chucked up 16 shots and saw just two fall. His 16 shots doubled the second leading shot taker on the team and that was Aubrey Williams who was 6-8 from the field. The Hawkeyes likely won't see the same effort from him this Friday considering he shot 49% from the field all of last season, but that will be something to look at.

The Owls did not record a three point basket in the win over Georgia Southern. They chucked up 11 and saw none of them fall. That's a recipe that won't work against Iowa.

Another glaring stat was their 18 turnovers that they had. Iowa employed a zone press for a small portion of the game last Friday and it forced Regis into 20 turnovers with all their flying around, disrupting passing lanes. Iowa will need to guard the three point line better, though. Because the Owls will not shoot as poorly as they did from behind the arc this Friday compared to last. They also recorded just 11 assists to those 18 turnovers.

The last one is they were +11 in rebound margin. I read that they did a good job of crashing the offensive glass and the stat sheets shows it because they recorded 16 offensive rebounds to 28 defensive rebounds. I believe they are a lot like the Hawkeyes in the fact that they want to get up and down and speed the game up. Only problem is the Hawkeyes are better at that than they are.

The Hawkeyes and Owls tip off at 8:35 p.m. this Friday inside Carver Hawkeye Arena.

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