Men's hoops engaged in balancing act


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Looking at the Iowa men's basketball stat sheet doesn't reveal a superstar.

Eric May leads the team with 13.5 points per game. Bryce Cartwright averages 3.9 assists per contest, and Melsahn Basabe pulls down 5.9 rebounds. They're solid numbers, but they're hardly spectacular.

How, then, is the team 4-4 and beating opponents by more than 10 points?

For the Hawkeyes, it's all about balance.

Only two players — May and Cartwright — score more than 10 points per night, but seven others have had at least one game in double figures. The list ranges from Zach McCabe (four times) to little-used guard Branden Stubbs and offensively challenged forward Devon Archie (one apiece).

Even the few who haven't yet reached the double-digit plateau have the potential to do so. Jordan Stoermer has been particularly close: the guard from Coralville connected for eight points against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and seven against Louisiana-Monroe.

Having numerous scoring threats takes pressure off a young team, particularly one with a first-year point guard. Injuries at the top of Iowa's depth chart forced Cartwright into the starting lineup just five games into his initial Hawkeye season, and he said knowing everyone can score lets him relax on the court.

"Anybody can get hot at any given time, and anybody can get points," the Compton, Calif., native said. "There's no particular go-to [guy], which can be good. It keeps [opposing] teams off balance."

Cartwright proved his point against Idaho State on Dec. 4 by hooking up with four different teammates for a personal-best eight assists. He accounted for nine of Matt Gatens' 14 points and six of May's 11.

Iowa's balanced attack hasn't surprised May, the only Hawkeye to score 20 points in a game this year. The sophomore admitted there was some uncertainty about who would lead the team in scoring in coach Fran McCaffery's new offense, but he said he isn't shocked that seven players average more than five points per game.

"From the way [McCaffery] had talked, it seemed like it was going to be spread out, with how many guys he plays and how he changes [the offense] up," the guard from Dubuque said. "It shows the type of team we are that we don't have one certain guy who we rely on to score all our points. We're well-rounded, we pass the ball really well, and get everybody involved."

The involvement isn't limited to scoring, either. McCaffery has said rebounding is of paramount importance, and six Hawkeyes have obliged with three or more boards per contest. Every player with at least six appearances has pulled down at least one rebound per game, too.

The squad is equal enough across the board that even its most recognizable members have noticed.

Basabe, a highly touted freshman from Glen Cove, N.Y., has been Iowa's leading rebounder and one of its more consistent scorers, but he lauded the team-first orientation the Hawkeyes have shown thus far.

"We have a lot of guys that can do things, and Coach McCaffery is confident in everyone on this team," Basabe said. "Even people who haven't yet reached their [potential] — me, [Andrew] Brommer, Archie, Stoermer, the guys on the bench — everyone's progressing.

"I don't think we've seen the best of anybody. The best is yet to come."

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