Iowa brought in five in the class of 2016 and six if you want to count walk-on, Riley Till. They lost four senior starters from a season ago and lacked an identity heading into the 2016-17 season.
Coach Fran McCaffery knew what he was going to get from Peter Jok, but with the exception of Jok, no other Hawkeye had started more than one game in his career. It was looking like Iowa might be headed towards a rebuilding year.
McCaffery brought in Scout top 100 forward, Tyler Cook, but Cook was not going to be enough help for Jok. Two of the other freshman, Jordan Bohannon and Cordell Pemsl were guys that you thought might contribute, but weren't really sure.
Well, last night they proved that they are ready to contribute right now. Pemsl started in place of the injured Cook and Bohannon started in place of sophomore point guard, Christian Williams.
Both players had their best games of the year for the Hawkeyes and will look to build off of it this upcoming weekend.
Bohannon led his team with 23 points on 7-15 from three point land. He also was able to record 7 assists in 32 minutes for the Hawkeyes. He started off a little shaky, missing a wide open layup underneath, but you can probably chalk that one up to nerves. Being the point guard, I thought he pushed the ball at the right times and knew his limits. That would explain why he turned the ball over just once. And that one turnover came on an out of bounds play.
He's going to struggle defending other point guards over the course of this season, but he's a heady player. He gets the game. He constantly sees the ball and his man and is in the right position a majority of the time in help side. Smart point guards are nice to have. He trapped Notre Dame big man Bonzie Colson in the corner during the first half, but the Hawkeyes did that a couple different times.
There actually came a point in the first half that Mike Brey switched Matt Farrell off of Bohannon and stuck Steve Vasturia on him in hopes that Vasturia's length bothered his shot a little bit more.
I love the mentality that he has. He's not scared to shoot it, nor should he be. He was a heck of a shooter at Linn-Mar in high school and will be a heck of a shooter at the University of Iowa.
He certainly made some mistakes, but the good far out-weighed the bad in my opinion. I'd expect Jordan to hold onto that starting spot after the night he had.
Pemsl was second on the team in scoring with 18 points on 8-9 shooting. He was equally as impressive as Bohannon was on the night. He, like Bohannon, looked to be a little nervous to start the game. He turned the ball over early on. But after that, he settled in nicely. Notre Dame's big man, Martinas Geben got in some early foul trouble, which forced Mike Brey to go a bit smaller. Pemsl took advantage. He was working Colson on the low block for a majority of the game.
The pair actually got into it in the second half. Both Pemsl and Colson received technical fouls. But it's nice to see some fire from the freshman.
What was more impressive to me that the scoring and efficiency was the little things. Things like screening and passing. He ended the game with three assists and had a beauty to Nicholas Baer in the second half. Pemsl was backing Colson down when Baer slashed through the lane. Cordell found him for the easy deuce.
He does a great job of using his body. He set a great screen for Peter Jok towards the end of the first half, which freed Jok for a wide open three pointer.
The turning point in the game actually came when Geben came back in and forced Pemsl into a silly foul, which was his third. Sophomore Ahmad Wagner had to come in for Pemsl and quickly was called for goaltending, which led to a three point play, and gave up an easy basket underneath to Geben. Notre Dame was widening it's lead.
Those two little sequences kind of spoke to how well Pemsl was playing. By the time Cordell made it back in, the Irish had things sealed for the most part.
I'd expect both Bohannon and Pemsl to get the start again on Saturday against Omaha. The more experience they get before Big Ten play the better.