The revamped Iowa Hawkeyes welcome the Longwood Lancers to open the season on Tuesday night, minus last year’s star power.
Iowa lost three starters off last season’s 22-9 club (14-6 Big Ten), including All-American Luka Garza and All-Big 10 guard Joe Wieskamp.
“What I’ve seen is a young group excited for opportunity,” Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery said. “You knew (Garza and Wieskamp) were going to play a lot, so somebody is going to step up and figure out how we’re going to score without those two guys on the floor.”
Part of the solution is moving point guard Jordan Bohannon (10.6 points per game) to the off-guard spot and making junior guard Joe Toussaint the full-time point guard.
With three new starters needed up front, 6-foot-8 sophomore Keegan Murray (7.2 ppg) could step up as well as 6-9 senior Filip Rebraca (a North Dakota transfer). At center, 6-11 freshman Riley Mulvey could start or 6-8 sophomore Kris Murray could play in a three-forward set.
“We can go with a bigger lineup, a smaller lineup,” McCaffery said. “There’s a lot of ways we can go. I think from that standpoint it’s a different kind of team.”
Longwood returns three starters from a team that went 12-17 overall and 10-10 in the Big South Conference a year ago.
The Lancers will be led by the backcourt of senior DeShaun Wade and sophomore Justin Hill, who moves into the starting lineup.
Wade averaged 11.2 points per game overall and made 34.7 percent of his 3-point attempts. Hill, who averaged 11 points and 4.2 assists as a freshman, is projected to be one of the top guards in the conference.
“(Hill is) a true scoring point guard with a high level of athleticism,” Longwood coach Griff Aldrich said. “He’s an explosive athlete truly wired to score. He’s maturing into a multidimensional point guard.”
Starting forward Zac Watson and sophomore Jesper Granlund, who started every game as a freshman, also return.
The Lancers added three transfers, including 6-6 forward Michael Christmas from James Madison and 6-4 guard Isaiah Wilkins (Virginia Tech/Wake Forest).
“I think our talent has significantly improved, and we were able to retain the core of our roster,” Aldrich said.
–Field Level Media