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Iowa Basketball: Hawkeyes Must Shake Slow Start Issues

Slow starts are becoming an issue for these young Hawkeyes.

You know the old "behind the 8 ball" saying? 

Well, the Hawkeyes are putting it to good use over the first 7 Big Ten games. With the exception of the home game against Michigan, Iowa has yielded early deficits in every Big Ten game. Some starts were slower than others, but even in the home win against Purdue the Hawkeyes found themselves down by 5 just five minutes into the game. 

Now that hole that they dug was a bit easier to climb out of than the 35-20 hole they dug this past Thursday against Maryland. But the crazy part is, they were actually in position to win that game still. Can you imagine what these games would be like if Iowa didn't have to climb out of early deficits? 

I would be willing to bet that they might've come out in their favor. They spend so much energy having to claw their way back into the game that they seem to run out of it towards the end of the second half. 

The Terrapins closed on a 15-4 run over 3 minutes and change the other night to oust the Hawkeyes by 8. Even against Northwestern the bench had the deficit down to 9 with 13 minutes remaining, but then they went on to score just 7 points the rest of the game as the Wildcats routed them. 

The last two games aren't the only examples, either. The Big Ten opener against Purdue saw the Hawkeyes go down 8-0 just two minutes into the game. And they even trailed by 6 points seven minutes in during the win over Rutgers. It's becoming somewhat of a trend for the Hawks right now. 

So, my big question is; why does this keep happening? Is it due to the fact that they are so young? Are they not prepared? Who knows. 

When asked about the slow starts, Iowa sophomore Nicholas Baer was drawing a blank as well. 

"I'm not entirely sure," he said when asked about why Iowa keeps starting slow. 

You could chalk the last two games up to injuries with everyone battling small stuff, but once the Big Ten grind starts it seems like every player on every team is never 100%. It's a rough conference to play in and you're bound to get dinged up a bit over the course of the conference slate. 

What I've noticed is the effort level. It seems like the Hawkeyes have needed about 8-10 minutes to start playing like themselves. I was keeping a close eye on Cordell Pemsl on Thursday and the effort level from the first half to the second half changed dramatically. You could tell that head coach Fran McCaffery wasn't happy with Pemsl, either. He yanked him a minute and a half into the game after Pemsl got beat down the court twice by Damonte Dodd.

In the second half, Pemsl was playing like he played against Purdue when Iowa hosted them. He was active on the block, looking to get open, and was sticking his head in there every shot he got. It was all eye test for me and it was easy to see.

The Hawkeyes haven't looked ready from the get go in the last two games. However, this isn't a difficult problem to fix. Giving effort and asserting yourself on both sides of the ball is one of the easiest things to do on the basketball court. It doesn't take any talent to give 100% and the Hawkeyes haven't looked like they've been giving it for the full 40 minutes recently. 

It's a simple fix for Wednesday when the Hawkeyes travel to Champaign, IL to take on the Fighting Illini. We'll see what kind of team we get out of the gate on the road. 

Stay tuned. 

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