With just a week’s notice, the Iowa Hawkeyes will begin their men’s basketball season against N.C. Central on Wednesday in Iowa City. After earning a #5 ranking in the AP Preseason Poll, the Hawkeyes have their eyes set on winning it all this year. While the offseason certainly looked different, Iowa is excited to start their season.
“I’m really excited,” said Iowa sophomore CJ Fredrick. “When game day comes I’ll be really amped up and ready to play.”
“I feel the excitement of game week,” said Iowa senior Luka Garza. “I think our whole team does. We’re just really ready to get out there. We’re preparing and getting ready so it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s definitely been a while. We’re accustomed to starting the season a little bit earlier, but we’ve been competing with each other in practice for a while so I’m just excited to play someone else.”
With seven players returning who have starting experience, head coach Fran McCaffery had options for his starting five. In the end, he gave the nods to Jordan Bohannon, CJ Fredrick, Joe Wieskamp, Connor McCaffery and Luka Garza.
“We have a lot of experience,” said Iowa senior Jordan Bohannon. “I think the experience we have on this team will take us a long way. For us to have the starting five that we do and all the experience we have under our belt, it’s going to have the freshmen and underclassmen really feed off that energy. We’re going to put them under our wing and (do) everything we can do on a daily basis to make sure they’re ready for day one. North Carolina Central is a really good team so we have to be ready for them for the first game.”
When the season gets underway, expect Iowa to play an exciting, up-tempo brand of basketball.
“We’re going to push the ball on makes and misses,” said Iowa sophomore Joe Toussaint. “We can score quickly and in the half-court. It’s easy to get points off of pushing the ball. (We’ll be) taking smart shots, playing fast but not playing nuts.”
It’s that style of play that’s gotten the Hawkeyes this far and the players have been glad to see their hard work pay-off in recent years.
“The preseason ranking is a testament to what we’ve put together these last couple years and the teams we’ve built on year by year,” said Bohannon. “I’ve dealt with the struggles. I think we kept building year-by-year off of the adversity we hit. I think that it was important for us to feel what it’s like to lose. We don’t want to feel that feeling ever again.”
On paper, the Hawkeyes should be able to avoid the agony of defeat more times than not this season. All that’s left for the Hawkeyes is to hit the court and prove what they’re capable of.