The Iowa Hawkeyes men’s basketball team season came to an end on Sunday with a 108-97 defeat to Oregon in the second round of the NIT.
Iowa finished the season with an overall record of 18-17 and for the first time in a while, there is finally hope for the future. As Fran McCaffery tries to rebuild this once proud program, all signs show that he is well on his way of doing so. The Hawkeyes played well above expectations this season as many predicted they would only win a few games. When looking ahead to next season, the Hawkeyes are in great shape with a lot of young and talented players coming back.
Iowa does lose Matt Gatens which will be a major loss because often times he was the driving the force behind many of Iowa’s wins this season. They also lose Bryce Cartwright and his ability to distribute the ball.
Despite losing Gatens and Cartwright to graduation, Iowa will return 3 of their top 4 scorers from this season. Roy Devyn Marble was Iowa’s second leading scorer, behind Matt Gatens, and averaged close to 11 points per game to go along with nearly 4 assists. In Iowa’s last game of the season, against Oregon, Marble scored 31 points and made all 7 of his 3-point attempts. No player improved as much as he did from one season to the next and he is now going to be the primary scorer in Iowa’s offense.
Another bright spot for Iowa this season was the play of freshman Aaron White, who emerged as one of the top freshman in the Big 10. White got better as the season went on and in Iowa’s two NIT games he averaged 23.5 points per game. His outstanding freshman year is just one of many reasons that Hawkeye fans are optimistic about next season.
Melsahn Basabe was Iowa’s fourth leading scorer, averaging 7.7 points per game this season and is going to be returning for his junior season. Expectations were high for Basabe coming into this season and at times he looked like the player from his freshman year. At other times, he did not show up at all and never could get in sync offensively. In the NIT, Basabe scored in double digits in both games and averaged 16 points per game.
Iowa brings in one of the better recruiting classes in the Big Ten next season and with the players they have returning, should make them ready to make a run at a NCAA Tournament bid. There is still room for improvement but this program is not far away from getting back to where it once was.
* – Roy Devyn Marble photo credit: via Missourian