Jon Crispin, BTN men's basketball analyst, January 22, 2016
Earlier this season I questioned the capability and potential of the Iowa Hawkeyes. I knew they?d be starting four seniors and one junior, but I wasn?t sure what kind of production they?d be able to get off the bench and how they?d sustain such a high level of play with Jarrod Uthoff, Mike Gesell and Peter Jok playing significant minutes.
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They have since shown me the light with a huge comeback win over Purdue earlier this month and a regular season sweep of the Michigan State Spartans. They are now one of the most consistent teams in all of college basketball.
The Purdue Boilermakers are still a Big Ten contender and because of their dominant size, I still consider them a Final Four contender. The ?skyline,? which consists of A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan has been dominant, at times, but certain teams have found the kryptonite to combat the size. Rather than matching up with the size, you accept that it?s an impossible feat and you force the bigs away from the basket with ball screens and bigs who can shoot it from the perimeter.
When you think of keys for a game, we often think of strategies of schemes that limit another teams potential rather than focus on a game plan that puts team A or B in position to do what they do best. If I were a coach, that?s how I?d approach it.
Here are my suggestions for Purdue and Iowa.
Purdue: In order to take advantage of the size in the post, you?ve got to have room to make the entry pass and room for the bigs to work. I would focus on extending the high-low (with Hammons or Haas and Swanigan) to the 3-point line. Swanigan has shown an ability to make that shot which will keep the defense honest and create space for Hammons and Haas to work. Additionally, the Boilermakers have to take care of the basketball. They are not an up-and-down team. They require sets and execution to score, which limits the amount of offensive possessions in the game. Limiting turnovers will always be a key for their continued success.
Iowa: Many would say that the Hawkeyes need Adam Woodbury to have a great defensive game. While that may be true, I think the biggest impact can come in the form of Dom Uhl. His ability to space the floor at the center position will cause numerous matchup problems for the Boilermakers. It will also help create driving lanes to the paint and to the basket for the Hawkeyes? playmakers. I also think Iowa has to remember what got them back into the game against Purdue earlier this month. They extended their pressure and forced turnovers. They played fast and played with a sense of urgency. That type of play for 40 minutes will win the Hawkeyes a lot of basketball games.
No matter how you look at it, we are in for a great game. An interesting and intriguing matchup between two of the Big Ten?s best.
P.S. Did you catch my first Facebook Live video Q&A from Thursday night? No? Where were you? I'm kidding. Come find me on Facebook.