Strengths: Jeff always works hard on the court, but you can really tell he is also working hard off of it. His upper body is impressively built compared to when he first ran the court at the PTL. That should help his stamina and ability to bang in the Big Ten.
Jeff also is much more consistent with his outside shot than when he first arrived here. He is shooting 41.7 percent on his 3-pointers and 54.9 overall from the floor in PTL action. He's also averaging 8.4 rebounds and 9.7 assists.
Honestly, Jeff looks like he is improving in all aspects of his offensive game. He is hitting clutch shots. His quickness seems to be a little better this summer. He also makes much better decisions with the ball. He better understands when to shoot and when to dish.
Weaknesses: They're tough to find. The one question still surrounding Jeff's game pops up on the defensive end of the floor. He still gets beat by some of the smaller, quicker guards.
Jeff needs to take better angles when he guards faster players. He need not be up in the face of a Dee Brown at 15-17 feet. Lay off and a guy like that, and mke him beat you with the jumper.
Jeff also needs to control his emotions on the court. Sometimes they can take him out of his game. He appears to be in charge of them in the PTL.
What to expect in '04-05: Big things, man. Big things.
Jeff likely will enjoy a monster season, especially if he gets moved off of the point from time to time. Mike Henderson can take some of those responsibilities and Pierre Pierce also can slide over to the 1 occasionally. And once the motion offense starts, the backcourt positions are interchangeable.
I would like to see Jeff step into more of a vocal leadership role, and I believe that he will. He seems ready for that move after deferring to the upper classmen in his first two seasons.
Strengths: Pierce only has played in four PTL games because of other summer engagements at camps, but his impact is mighty. He is averaging an incredible 45.8 PPG to go with 6.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists.
Teams are playing off of Pierce preferring to let him shoot the J as opposed to trying to stop his talent for getting to the basket. The strategy is meeting poor results as I had an opposing coach tell me the other night that the Iowa guard knocked down his first three 3-point attempts against his team.
Pierre is shooting 40.9 percent (62.3 overall FG) on his treys in the PTL, and his form looks a lot better. He is spending countless hours trying to improve that aspect as well as his free throw shooting, which stands at 66.7 percent this summer.
Monday, the opposing team fouled Pierre twice in the closing 30 seconds of a tight game. He knocked down all four of this throws to seal the win.
Pierre also looks like he is improving his court vision. Instead of dribbling with his head down dead set on getting to the basket, he is seeing open players when the defenses collapse on him.
It's also interesting to watch an opposing player when he realizes that Pierre is assigned to guard him. The opponent rarely tries anything risky, kind of like when Deion Sanders guarded a receiver.
Weaknesses: I'm still not completely sold on the consistency of Pierre's outside shot. The ball still appears to come off of his hand awkwardly at times, letting me know that he hasn't fully mastered that part of his game. A consistent pull-up J also could be a huge asset for him.
Pierre also still has a tendency to dribble too much. This slows down the offense as others watch him bounce.
What to expect in '04-05:
I also would like to see Pierre become more of a leader. You can witness at the PTL how some of the younger guys look up to his impressive skills. I believe he has their attention if he chooses to lead.
If he can knock down enough jumpers to keep the defense honest, which I think he can, Pierre could easily be all-Big Ten first-team.
I think he gets it that he doesn't need to carry the team on the offensive end. He is learning to play off of his teammates.
Pierre also has to rank as one of the favorites for Big Ten defensive player of the year.
Strengths: Rebounding. Rebounding. Rebounding.
Greg leads the PTL with 13.9 boards a night. He averages 22.9 points and 3.9 assists.
Greg is playing with a dislocated finger, which is affecting his shot. But the guy is just a tireless worker who understands his limitations. He appears to be in great shape which should improve his stamina.
Ball handling, passing and overall strength are three noticeable areas of improvement in Greg's game. He also displays natural leadership ability.
Weaknesses: Greg still needs to work on the free throw shooting as he's likely to get to the line quite a bit. It's tough to say how much his finger injury as contributed to his 63.3 percent shooting in the PTL this summer.
While his foot speed looks to be improved, Greg still winds up in poor defensive position too much.
What to expect in '04-05: More of the GB that we saw against Louisville and less of the guy we saw disappear at times during the last two seasons.
Greg plays a crucial role for this team outside of his excellent basketball skills. He leads naturally by voice and also by example.
I would look for GB make a run at a Big Ten rebounding title this season and also average close to double figures in scoring. He might be the guy that benefits most from a deeper bench.
Strengths: This guy is maturing every time I see him, both on and off of the floor. No longer is he the timid Texan.
Hansen is displaying a much improved offensive game. He is developing a nice little jump hook, and his power moves are upgraded. He is averaging 23.0 PPG to go with 8.8 boards.
You really see how the game changes with him in the middle of a defense. In the PTL, a league where many players look to make a name for themselves, they quickly realize that is not achieved by driving on Erek.
The guy shows impeccable timing. Just when you think somebody has beat him, he recovers to erase the shot. Amazing.
Erek also is developing physically. He doesn't weigh much more than when he arrived here, but the transformation of his upper body is easily recognizable. And he runs the floor very well.
Weaknesses: Erek still needs to improve his FT shooting (61.5% in the PTL) and become more consistent on the boards. He still drifts away from the basket too much.
While the offensive game is coming along, he needs to realize when it's a good time for him to shoot. With all of the offensive weapons on Iowa, he does not need to force the action.
What to expect in '04-05: Blocked shots. Blocked shots. Blocked shots.
Erek really changes the complexion of the Iowa defense. Perimeter players can take more chances knowing EH has got their backs in the middle. Look for the Iowa defense to create easy offensive opportunities.
I also could see Erek posting impressive offensive nights when he has a mismatch in size and also because he runs the floor so well. But I would expect probably 6-8 points a game from the big fella.
Strengths: Mike plays very good on-the-ball defense, probably the best on the team outside of Pierre. He also sees the floor very well, especially on the break.
Mike is another guy that is showing a ripped upper body. He is lighter than he was last season, and it is helping his speed and quickness.
Mike appears to be another Iowa guard that really rebounds well. He is pulling down 7.0 a game in the PTL.
Weaknesses: Like many younger players, Mike often tries to do too much. He is still learning to let the game come to him.
Mike also tends to go for the spectacular play instead of the more fundamentally sound option. His outside shot also needs more work despite his shooting 50 percent from 3-point land in the PTL.
Emotions also get the better of Mike at times. He is still learning to let mistakes go instead of taking them onto the next play.
What to expect in '04-05: Mike will see quality minutes allowing Jeff to move to a shooting spot. He also will help on the defensive end, especially against teams like Illinois.
Mike likely will go through some growing pains early in the season. Remember, he still will be a freshman experience wise through the first half of the season.
But I expect big growth from Mike this year. A lot of Iowa's success centers around how fast he matures.
Strengths: Iowa fans will quickly discover that this kid was worth the wait as he sat out last season after transferring from ISU.
Adam does just about everything well on both ends of the floor. He's strong, athletic and knows the game. He also might be the best interview since Luke Recker left town.
He ranks third in the PTL in scoring at 28.5 PPG. He also averages 8.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists. He should improve Iowa's FT woes from last year as he is connecting on 85.2 percent from the line in this summer.
Weaknesses: I'm still not convinced he's consistent enough with his outside shot. It comes and goes, streaky if you will.
While his ball handling is improved, needs to work more on his handle. Adam also tries to do too much at times.
What to expect in '04-05: He automatically improves the team's defense and athleticism. He will relieve some of the pressure on Horner, Brunner and Pierce.
It might take a month or two for Adam to fully get on the same page with his new teammates, but it could be explosive when it happens.
I expect him to be starting from Day 1 and playing near 30 minutes a game.
Strengths: Smart player that can burn you if you sleep on him. Jack can hit the open shot, handles the ball well and has good quickness.
The players respect Jack, and as the only senior, he will lend strong leadership while playing very few minutes. He is rooming with the incoming freshmen this summer.
Weaknesses: Jack lacks the natural skills to play at the high DI level. But he should be admired for walking on and contributing to the program.
What to expect in '04-05: He'll play less than he did last year. Most of his contributions will come in practice.
Jack should be able to act as another coach for some of the young guards.