Iowa Hawkeyes: Who Should Take the Last Shot in Crunch Time?
In 2010, LeBron James and ESPN teamed together to create one of the most controversial and disputatious events of the new decade—The Decision.
If there were ever a time when the Internet might explode, it was at that very asinine moment after "The King" explained a dream that convinced him "taking his talents to South Beach" was the best decision for his career.
After the sweat poured through his picnic decor button down shirt and millions of shirseys (i.e. Jersey Shirts) lay dormant as ashes, the hour long, self-promotional video became the only topic to be discussed by sports media.
Only the natural gifts of the one they call, Tebow, could put LeBron and The Decision to rest.
Still, The Decision was the focal point to some of the most elongated, yelling matches among the most hypocritical talking heads in the country (yes, I'm looking at you Skip; even though I love your satirical and inane comical act) for two entire NBA seasons.
Every episode of SportsCenter, First Take and SportsNite led off with headlines such as, "Will LeBron win in Miami?", or "Will the world root for LBJ?" and even "Will Cleveland all collectively jump off "The Q's" roof?" OK, I made that last one up.
One of the most stressed questions among them was the offseason time filler: Who will take the last shot with the game on the line? That very question seems to awake the masses, unless you are a Bobcats fan because really, who cares?
But what about the nation's favorite collegiate basketball team, the Iowa Hawkeyes? Gone (to Spain) is their No. 1 option and left behind is a hodge podge of unproven options/talent that will look to take over the "Gatens" roll for White Magic.
So who's in line to take over? Whose ball is it in crunch time? Will there be a controversy among the team? Who's going to step up and demand the rock with only seconds left on the road and a ruckus crowd at their back?
Hint: It's not Eric May.
Making the Case: Mike Gesell
This is a big word of confidence for the true freshman. OK, maybe not as BIG, as say, the personal opinion of one Fran McCaffery, but it almost is. If nothing else, it's an inclination that I'm not sure I share among other Hawkeye fans.
I can hear it now, "A true freshman taking the game deciding shots during the heart of the Big Ten schedule or Big Ten Tournament or, dare I say, the NCAA Tournament?
Not so fast my friend (and no, I'm not waving an imaginary pencil at you while I sip spiked coffee and try to remember if I took my crazy pills).
If you have followed some of my latest Iowa posts, you should know that I'm a believer in the skills Gesell has shown and possessed during the short amount I saw during Prime Time play as well as in the endless highlight videos I've stalked on YouTube. The kid has talent and extreme accolade. All you have to do is check his brief high school bio to learn that.
"Three-time first team All-State, All- Conference and All-Metro honoree for South Sioux City High School... is the No. 73 ranked player in the Class of 2012 by ESPN.com, No. 89 by Scout.com and No. 96 by Rivals.com... as a junior, he averaged 25.2 points, 8.2 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 steals while being honored as the Nebraska Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year... as a sophomore, Gesell averaged 19.9 points, 6.4 assists, 7.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals... he made 82 percent (158-193) of his free throw attempts as a junior and 79 percent (125-158) as a sophomore... was a Basketball Super State and All-State Class B Team Captain recipient his sophomore and junior seasons... holds single season school records for scoring (655), assists (212) and steals (79), career scoring (1,446) and single-game steals (8) and assists (13)... is a Wendy's High School Heisman state finalist and will be the team's captain this year... also excels in the classroom ranking in the top 5 percent of his class while earning Gold Honor Roll distinction all four years... is a three-time Academic All-Conference and NSAA Academic All-State honoree..."
That bio is a little dated, so for good measure, here are his senior year statistics as well: 24.8 points, 7.4 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game.
What to take from that? What to take from that?
Well, obviously the kid can score and in bunches. It was one of the main reasons why he obtained such high praise from recruitniks across the nation. Here is what ESPN's scouting profile stated, "He can knock down threes off the catch and mid range jumper off the catch or dribble. He can finish through contact and will finish above the rim on the break and surprise with his rise. He also has an excellent floater in the lane that he shoots with touch and body control."
Kind of sounds like a guy I want with the ball in his hands, you know with his natural ability to go all Kobe System on a defender (SEE VIDEO).
He'll have to improve his range a bit, as he shot 38.4 percent from three point range as a senior (though that would have been good enough for fifth on last year's team), but he will definitely have his hat in the ring as a crunch time finisher for the Hawkeyes.
Making the Case: Zach McCabe
Surprising I know.
What is a 6'7", 235 pound forward doing in this slide show?
Well, what are tacos doing on Burger King's menu? Somethings just can't be explained.
So instead of waste my hypothetical Internet breath, let me do a comparison. You must choose one player in a draft to play either the small forward or power forward positions:
Player A: 45.7 FG%, 36.8 3P%, 6.7 REB, 2.2 AST, 33.5 MIN
Player B: 49.5 FG%, 44.9 3P%, 4.6 REB, 1.0 AST, 21.5 MIN
Who would you rather have?
Player B right? He offers you better offensive percentages from the field and pretty equal stats as far as rebounds and assists go, which will surely go up with more minutes per game.
Well if that is in fact who you would select, congratulations you just selected Zach McCabe over...Dirk Nowitzki.
OK, I know it might be a stretch when you consider one is an 11-time NBA All-Star and everything but open up your mind and imagine for a second, Scrooge. McCabe nailed almost 50 percent of his three point attempts as a sophomore (22-49) and has shown no remorse for human life when it comes to nailing big time shots in the past. It's really not a complete farce to think that another offseason under the current Iowa coaching staff will breed even better results.
That is, if it hasn't already. During the Prime Time League this summer, McCabe shot an abysmal and impaired 57 percent (17-30) from three-point range. Sickening, I know!
All sarcasm aside, McCabe provides the opposing defenses with a difficult matchup. He can score in the post. He can nail a wide-open jumper. He can run around screen after screen and burn a defense by hitting a wide open curl shot or bang you inside.
You know, similar to his German/NBA comparison.
Making the Case: Josh Ogles (THREE)
Josh "OglesTHREE" Oglesby is truly the only purebred shooter on this Iowa roster. He is a specialist with a little bit of nasty. He has already nudged himself into the Iowa records books, ranking fourth in three-pointers made by a freshman (45) and seventh in three-point percentage for a freshman (.372). He ranked second in three pointers made for the entire team during the 2011-2012 campaign, sitting exactly 30 makes behind the legend, Matt Gatens.
He also "led Iowa in scoring against Creighton, Northern Illinois, Clemson, #16 Indiana and #8 Michigan State..."
Not bad for a true freshman.
Now with Gatens out of the country, OglesTHREE needs to step up. It is unclear what he will be. He could eventually be a starter just as much as he could be a bench guy whose soul purpose is to come in with ten minutes left in the first half and just go off.
What the best and most encouraging part of OglesTHREE is that he can pull up without much space and get a pretty jump shot off without a problem. He can be anywhere on the floor and still find a way to create enough space for himself to get off a quick J.
We've even seen the ability to run the fast break, stop, pull back and chuck. That simple. That quick.
He has a little bit of a Ray Allen in him with an almost hitch-y, flying elbow, quick release jump shot that always looks the same no matter the difficulty. He also has shown a short memory, the most important tool for a specialist to have.
If he can provide like Allen even at a collegiate level, has yet to be seen. But what Iowa has seen should be enough.
OglesTHREE is a sophomore with junior level basketball experience. He knows the importance of his skill, especially within McCaffery's system, which will only open up the floor more. He knows now how to make sure he creates the kind of looks he wants, and you can guarantee he has been honing his skill all offseason to guarantee a spike in his already astounding first-year numbers.
Making the Case: Roy Devyn Marble
With the 58th pick in the 2013 NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select...Roy. Devyn. Marble. Guard. Iowa.
This may not be so far from course based on the mutterings from Iowa City this offseason. Somehow, Marble's name and the NBA have combined to create some sort of "he said-she said" relationship that neither can full deny.
Regardless, as of today, he's not ready yet and that is evident to everyone including himself.
But that's not to say he wont be by the end of the 2012-2013 season.
Marble was second in minutes per game last year (29.5), second in points per game (11.5), fourth in rebounds (3.6), second in assists (3.6) and first in steals (1.5). He shot 39.3 percent from three and 43.6 percent from the field.
Not bad for a second-year player.
Listen, Marble is the obvious choice to fully fill the giant black and yellow Nikes left behind by Gatens. He has played point guard. He has played shooting guard. He has played small forward. He has played slasher. He has played penetrator. He has played passer. He has played scorer. He has played shooter. He has done everything under the sun when it comes running Iowa's offense, which seems like it will only benefit him during his junior campaign.
Essentially he is the Charlie Conway to Fran's Gordon Bombay. Just don't expect him to sub himself out for Eric May to throw up some gimmick shot with the game on the line.
Sorry Eric, it's not Knuckle shot time.
When it comes down to it, I want Marble with the ball in his hands in crunch time. He can score in an assortment of ways (within the arch), making it extremely difficult for a coach to dial up a good defense to stop him on top of the pieces around him.
I expect the flashes of brilliance that he has shown to be completely visible now that he no longer has to play second fiddle to Matty Ice.
This is his team now. The ball goes through him until he sees fit, or, you know, leaves for the NBA.