Iowa’s lone exhibition is next Monday at 7 p.m. versus Quincy inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That will help satiate the most ardent basketball appetite very quickly.
With the season rapidly arriving, it gives the national pundits one last chance to put their finishing touches on preseason rankings and predictions. Back in early October, Iowa slotted in at No. 9 in the preseason Big Ten media poll.
Given that Iowa is replacing its top two scorers and rebounders in forwards Kris Murray and Filip Rebraca, it makes sense why some are in a wait-and-see mode with this team.
Count CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander among that line of thinking. Norlander released his preseason Top 100 and 1 rankings, slotting the Hawkeyes in at No. 79 nationally.
Fran McCaffery has made a good living exceeding outsiders’ expectations. But after losing Kris Murray and Filip Rebraca, it’s fair to wonder how much of a factor Iowa will be in the Big Ten. I do think Payton Sandfort and Tony Perkins will be a fun combo in the backcourt. Either one of those two could have four or five games of 25-plus points if the offense is really humming again. Valpo transfer Ben Krikke, a 6-9 grad student, will have his work cut out for him as he up-transfers from the Missouri Valley. – Norlander, CBS Sports.
As Norlander notes, guards Payton Sandfort and Tony Perkins will be expected to be two of the Hawkeyes’ key figures on this 2023-24 squad. Forward Patrick McCaffery is another one of Iowa’s seasoned pieces.
After that group, the Hawkeyes will be looking to transfers Even Brauns from Belmont and the aforementioned Ben Krikke from Valparaiso to help replace Murray and Rebraca inside.
Sophomore guards Dasonte Bowen and Josh Dix are two other names that should improve upon their freshman seasons and factor in heavily in the backcourt.
Then, there’s a talented crop of freshmen that Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery seems excited about. That group features point guard Brock Harding, forward Pryce Sandfort, forward Owen Freeman and forward Ladji Dembele.
“I think in our case it’s going to be interesting to see how we develop with what is essentially a new team in a lot of ways. When you look at last year and you look at Connor, Kris, and Filip, our starting frontline, they played 3,000 minutes. That’s a lot of minutes. They were awesome. They were also our leaders.
“So as we move to this year with four freshmen and two transfers and others that have to step up and fill maybe a different role starting at the leadership position. We had a little bit of a glimpse of what we can become because this was a year where we were able to go overseas. Went overseas in August. Played three games. Had extra practice time, which I think was really important, especially considering, as I pointed out earlier, we have six new players. We’ve been together for a while. We’re making great progress. I’ve been very pleased, and I’m very optimistic,” McCaffery said.
Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshOnREF
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