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Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing

BY KYLE MANN | JULY 06, 2015 5:00 AM

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When Fran McCaffery came to Iowa from Siena, Hawkeye fans fantasized about an up-and-down, fast-paced offense that could fill a scoreboard with the best of the Big Ten. McCaffery has made significant strides in his tenure at Iowa, but 2015-16 could finally be the year his offense ascends to the upper echelon of the conference, and it starts in the post.

With Aaron White departed to the NBA, and Gabe Olaseni graduated and now playing for the Miami Heat’s Summer League team, the Hawkeyes lack a “traditional” power forward and really have no “traditional” post players after Adam Woodbury and walk-on Okey Ukah.

This may have been cause for concern a decade ago, but in modern basketball, players such as the wiry 6-9 Jarrod Uthoff fit right into more spread-out offenses.

“College basketball is changing, and it’s the same with the NBA,” Woodbury said. “The game has evolved over the last 10, 15 years, and we can play four guards or four guys who like to play on the perimeter and drive and slash. I don’t think it’ll be a problem; it’s just a challenge to acclimate to.”

Uthoff was second on the team in rebounding last season with 6.4 per game — 1.2 rebounds more than Woodbury — largely from playing small forward on the perimeter.

Uthoff says he has bulked up to almost 240 pounds this summer — and if true, combined with his length and basketball IQ — he should have little to no trouble handling the rigors of Big Ten post play.

“I have before,” Uthoff said. “Nothing’s going to stop me now.”

Regarding his potential position change, Uthoff remains largely indifferent. In fact, his skills at the power forward is where the fun will come in for McCaffery’s offense.

“If I play the 4, I’ll still play the same way I do,” Uthoff said. “It won’t make a difference if I’m at the 3 or the 4.”

If it truly doesn’t make a difference, the Hawkeyes’ frontcourt will then boast 7-1 senior Woodbury and 37 percent 3-point shooter Uthoff. The two will only serve to create more open looks for one another, and it doesn’t stop there.

Six-eight, 220-pound transfer Dale Jones not only averaged 8.3 rebounds for Tyler Junior College (Tyler, Texas), he shot 45 percent from beyond the arc. He has shown a second-to-none level of confidence in his shot in the Prime Time League this summer, and even if McCaffery has some work to do with his shot selection, he can find solace in knowing there’s a good chance it’s going to go in.

Woodbury will be relied on heavily to play significant minutes as the only true center, but there are inevitably going to be situations in which Uthoff or Jones has to play center. Again, this would seem problematic, but Iowa appears to have the depth with its stretch-4s to make it work.

Woodbury, Uthoff, and Jones project to take up the majority of minutes in the post, but sophomore Dom Uhl could truly round out the depth and make this offense work smoothly.

“I’ve put on about 15 pounds, so guys don’t push me around as easily anymore,” he said. “We want to play smart on defense and get out and push the ball for easy buckets.”

With a potentially dominant 7-footer down low, Iowa’s stable of versatile, shooting power forwards could lead to a high-powered, elite shooting team in the Big Ten.

Follow @KyleFMann for news, updates, and analysis of Prime Time League basketball.


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