The Box Score: Inside Hawkeye Basketball Statistics


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The Box Score is a weekly segment in which a Daily Iowan basketball reporter uses statistics to contextualize the Iowa men’s basketball team’s performance over the course of the season.

Iowa has played just about as well as anyone could have expected it to at this point. But the team’s schedule is about to get a lot tougher — meaning its dominance in certain statistics may fall off soon.

The Hawkeyes are 10-1 heading into Friday’s matchup against ranked Iowa State, which will take place in a hostile Hilton Coliseum in Ames. And afterwards, the Black and Gold will have just one more tune-up against Arkansas-Pine Bluff before conference play begins.

The following statistics should be observed knowing Iowa has gone up against a relatively weak schedule thus far. But nonetheless, these numbers can serve as proof that Iowa is, in fact, playing at a level that’s comparable with the nation’s best teams.

Simple Rating Score — 27.07 (1st in Big Ten, 2nd in NCAA)

College Basketball Reference’s rating method, the Simple Rating System, is “a rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule. The rating is denominated in points above/below average, where zero is average. Non-Division I games are excluded from the ratings.”

The only team in the country that ranks ahead of Iowa in this metric is the Marcus Smart-led Cowboys of Oklahoma State (No. 7 in AP top 25). Familiar teams to Iowa, such as Iowa State and Villanova, rank third and fifth in the statistic, respectively.

Freshman Peter Jok — averaging 12.5 points over the last two games

How the team’s lone freshman would contribute to a loaded roster was a mystery heading into the season. But the West Des Moines native has fit into Fran McCaffery’s system nicely, complementing a deep Hawkeye backcourt.

There’s no question Jok can shoot, and his willingness to put the ball up won’t ebb anytime soon, because McCaffery urges the freshman to take a lot of shots. Jok’s scoring ability could become useful later in the year when Iowa is facing tougher defenses.

Opponents’ points per game — 64.2 (5th in Big Ten, 38th in NCAA)

The team has been criticized for its lackluster defensive effort against Notre Dame and in the first half of its game against Drake. But overall, the team defense has been more than passable, especially if you consider the way the offense is playing and the Hawkeyes’ tendency to play in transition — which leads to short possessions and more opportunities for the opponent.

Only time will tell if Iowa’s defense can withstand the physicality and grind of the Big Ten season. But thus far, it’s fair to say the Hawkeye defense has played at an efficient level. 

Defensive rating of Iowa’s centers — Adam Woodbury 91.6, Gabriel Olaseni 84.6

This statistic is an estimation of the points a team allows per 100 possessions. Simply, per every 100 possessions, Iowa’s defense would allow 7 points fewer with Gabriel Olaseni than it would with Adam Woodbury.

Many Hawkeye fans are calling for Olaseni to become a mainstay in Iowa’s starting five, and the centers’ offensive ratings are bolstering that argument even more so. Olaseni’s estimate of points produced per 100 possessions sits at 121, while Woodbury’s comes in at 112.3.

In all likelihood, the centers will continue to split time almost equally. But if the disparity in the duo’s production on both ends becomes even more obvious as the year continues, McCaffery may have to give Olaseni a larger percentage of the available minutes.

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