Inside the Matchup
The Iowa Hawkeyes are off to a nice start with two wins over Kennesaw State and Savannah State. However, their schedule gets a bit tougher on Thursday when the Seton Hall Pirates come to town.
The Pirates are fresh off winning the Big East tournament a season ago before falling in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They went on a tear last March knocking off the likes of Xavier and Villanova on their way to claiming the Big East Tourney crown.
This year, they are off to a 2-0 start just like the Hawkeyes. After losing their star point guard in Isaiah Whitehead to the NBA, you'd think this team would be in a bit of a pickle, but they aren't. They return almost everyone outside of Whitehead, including Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado. Carrington is leading the team in scoring at 22.5 points per game while Delgado comes in second with 18 points per contest. Delgado also leads his team in rebounds, averaging 15 per game.
This group gained a considerable amount of experience last season when they went 25-9. Their starting five consists of four juniors and one lone senior, Madison Jones, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest. He currently leads the team in assists. They brought in a Scout top 100 recruit in Myles Powell and he has played just a shade over 20 minutes per game so far on this young season. Powell has been a nice piece for Kevin Willard.
They, like the Hawkeyes, are a bunch of athletic kids that like to get up and down the court. They aren't very big, so the play styles will be fairly similar on Thursday night.
A couple of names to keep an eye on outside of Carrington and Delgado are junior forward, Desi Rodriguez, who is averaging 12 points and 8 rebounds per game, and Ismael Sanogo. Sanogo is a stat sheet stuffer considering he ranked in the top 12 in rebounding, steals, and blocked shots last season in the Big East.
Iowa is going to have a tough task ahead of them with an experienced squad.
The Hawkeyes have won both of their contests fairly easily and looked really nice on the offensive side of ball on Sunday. They are going to need to keep sharing the ball like they did against Savannah State and take less three pointers. That was a point Fran McCaffery made after last Sunday's game. He'd like to see them work inside out more often, but doesn't have a problem with the shots they took because they have good shooters.
This is going to be a fun test for the young Hawkeyes.
Hawk to Rock
The pick for this showdown in the Gavitt Games will be Christian Williams. It would not surprise me to see him get the responsibility at times to guard Seton Hall's most prolific scorer, Khadeen Carrington. Jok is the assumed guy but I don't know if they'll want him shadowing Carrington all night and taking away from his own game. Iowa's best perimeter defender is Williams and having him take on the task could be wise. He'll prove vital in that regard but he also has to manage the game and limit the Iowa turnovers and play a clean game for them to win. The offense can't slump in what could be a pretty offensively minded game. He has to be on top of his game for the Hawkeyes to win.
While I like the Williams pick from Derek, I am going to take Tyler Cook. I think Fran is going to put an emphasis on playing more inside-out on Thursday. Savannah State was horrendous on defense last Sunday allowing the Hawkeyes pretty much whatever kind of shot they wanted. Seton Hall will not be the same way. I assume Cook will be matched up with the talented Delgado and I think he's up for the task. His body is ready for a game like this and I was intrigued by the second half he had on Sunday. I believe Iowa will start by getting the ball inside and working it out for their shooters.
Williams is a bit of a sleeper since he's not a go-to offensive threat the way Jok, Baer, Pemsl, and Cook have been. But I'll go another route to satisfy the masses. Angel Delgado is a load for Seton Hall and he's averaging a double-double early on for the Pirates. He could get the Iowa youngsters like Cook and Pemsl in foul trouble early. That could put the onus on Ahmad Wagner. He's almost the elder statesman of the post players. He could prove pivotal in limiting what Angel Delgado can do down low.
I actually will take Williams here. Derek mentioned he'll likely be tasked with guarding Carrington and I agree with that. I won't go as far as saying he's going to shut Carrington down, but I think he makes life a bit difficult given his length and quickness. I also think he bounces back after just one point against Savannah State. Give me Williams with 10 points, 5 assists, and just one turnover.
It's a mighty step up in competition for most of the Iowa roster that hasn't played anyone better than Savannah State and Kennesaw State. They at least haven't garnered significant minutes against top competition for the most part. This is a contest that will gauge how far Iowa has come along. But this is probably a matchup they could win in a couple months but perhaps not now.
SETON HALL 84 IOWA 81
Youth could prove to be the achilles heel for the Hawkeyes tomorrow night. They go up against a team that is filled with upperclassmen, while the Hawkeyes really only have two guys in Peter Jok and Dom Uhl that have played in a considerable amount of games. Being at Carver Hawkeye is going to help this team, but they must avoid falling down early and I think they will. The Pirates got out to a 26-4 lead over Central Connecticut in their previous game, so that is something to keep in mind.
Iowa 78 Seton Hall 73null