Tony Freeman sent a shock wave through Hawkeye basketball fans last week when he talked about possibly taking a redshirt this season. The junior guard broke a bone in his foot during Nov. 1 exhibition game against Simpson.
Doctors projected Freeman's injury as one that might keep him out about 4-6 weeks. They estimated he'd be back around mid-December or have him out about 13 games of a 32-game regular season.
Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said on Monday that he was much more optimistic that Freeman would be back this season. In speaking with doctors and Freeman, Lickliter thinks his star guard will be back by that mid-December date if his foot heals as expected.
Lickliter suggested that Freeman might have been thrown off a little by reporters asking him if he was considered redshirting. As a result, he was talking about it while first thinking about it as an option and that may have created some confusion.
BEAR BALL: After an opening with a 58-43 victory against Idaho State on Friday, Iowa welcomes Northern Colorado to Carver-Hawkeye on Wednesday (8:05, BTN). The Bears come in with a 1-1 record after defeating VMI and losing to Air Force. They scored 104 in the win and only 62 in a loss.
Lickliter said that as of Monday, the Iowa staff was still waiting on tapes from those two Northern games. The Hawkeyes prep for the game to this point as been from last year's film, but it is the same coaching staff.
The Bears last year run a lot of motion with heavy screening on offense and favor man-to-man defense, Lickliter said. The Iowa coaches have not seen Northern extend the floor with pressure defense, but his players are preparing for it just in case.
Last season, the Bears struggled through a 4-24 season, including a 2-14 in the Big Sky conference.
JUSTIN TIME: With Freeman going down with injury, it became obvious that senior wingman Justin Johnson would need to increase his offensive output. The Texas native obliged against Idaho State by obliterating his previous career high (14) in points by netting 21.
Johnson connected on 7 of 12 three-point shots after making just 2 of 7 before the intermission. Those seven treys tied him for the third highest total in Hawkeye history.
Johnson only took two two-point attempts and missed both. He did not attempt a free throw.
Former Coach Steve Alford pushed Johnson to get to the free throw line more last season when he recorded 21 free throw tries in 610 minutes.
Lickliter said on Monday that he likes Johnson's ability to slash to the basket and either take it all the way or pull up. He felt like his senior would show that ability as teams squeeze out more on him at the arc.
The coach is prevented from speaking specifically about those guys until they sign those LOIs. He does feel strongly that this group will contribute significantly to the future success of the program.
Gatens, from Iowa City High, is the highest ranked prospect, holding four stars from scout. Davis and Tucker are three star guys, and Brommer is a two-star recruit.
The coach talked about how guys can contribute even without being on the floor and that he felt like both guys were doing that. He said that minutes could vary greatly from game to game as can the rotation.
It would seem that Iowa would benefit from going a little deeper in the bench with Johnson logging 35 minutes and freshman point guard Jeff Peterson running for 38 in the opener. Center Kurt Looby played 30.
Reading between the lines, Angle and Palmer will get minutes when Lickliter sees what he's looking for from them in practice.