Blue Ribbon College Basketball Forecast--Iowa
Team ProfileThis year's club will have to find a way to replace 60 percent of its scoring and 50 percent of its rebounds from last year, including leading scorer Recker (17.1 ppg)--whose last-second shots beat Wisconsin and Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament. Evans led the team with 11.1 boards a game and was second in scoring at (15.4 ppg).
Also gone are guard Hogan and forwards Duez Henderson and Rod Thompson, who chipped in 12 points and 3.5 boards a game combined last year. Alford thinks this year's team will have better balance because the other players on the court won't have Recker and Evans to lean on.
"Last year we were a team with two players scoring in double figures," said Alford. "I would hope that this year we can get three or four scoring in double figures consistently and be a little bit harder to play against. I like our athleticism, and we have good size at every position. Even though we will be young, there are some dimensions that we have improved upon."
The top leading scorer and rebounder returning is 6-7 junior forward Glen Worley (7.3 ppg, 4.1 ppg). The Iowa City native started in 11 games last year and led the team with 31 blocked shots, but his propensity for foul trouble cut into his minutes.
"He's improved each year and will play a bigger role this year," said Alford. "He has double-double potential every night."
Worley is part of a junior class that will have to provide a great deal of leadership, because the team's two seniors have earned one letter between them.
"This class was highly touted going in but they've played in the shadow of Reggie and Luke for two years," Alford said. "It will be interesting to see how they play out of that shadow."
Blue Ribbon AnalysisBACKCOURT C
The Hawkeyes are short on experience, especially players who know how to put the ball in the hoop. But they do have a nucleus of solid, if unspectacular, players and a coach who is a proven motivator.
Alford won't get out-coached on many nights, and with national expectations once again nonexistent, the pressure is off the Hawkeyes to do much but play hard, learn and let their talent take over.
In a conference where a sleeper seems to come out of nowhere every year to push for the conference title, you never say never. It's not looking like a banner season in Iowa City this year, but would you bet against Alford?