After an NIT title game appearance in 2013, Iowa basketball is back, almost. Most experts believe the Hawkeyes are a lock to make the 2014 NCAA Tournament, but it shouldn't end just there. Iowa has enough experience and talent to win a few games come March Madness.
Only Eric May is gone for last year's squad, and head coach Fran McCaffery is poised to have Iowa dancing in his fourth season in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes used a variety of lineups in 2012-13, but for the purposes of this article, I came up with a starting five of Mike Gesell, Roy Devyn Marble, Aaron White, Melsahn Basabe and Adam Woodbury.
The Hawkeyes have plenty of depth in the frontcourt, as Jarrod Uthoff, Zach McCabe and Gabe Olaseni will all see minutes off the bench. They also have guards Anthony Clemmons and Josh Oglesby, who can contribute as well.
In this video, the then sweet-stroking true freshman Gesell knocks down a triple. Gesell saw minutes as a starting point guard, starting shooting guard and reserve guard in 2012-13. He has the ability to score, as shown here, but he also provides a steady hand running the offense.
The Hawkeyes will look to get out and push the ball, unlike fellow Big Ten rival Wisconsin, making Gesell a key figure in their offense. Gesell's decision-making late in games could use improvement, but that should come naturally with experience. Look for a more consistent Gesell as a sophomore.
In this video, Roy Devyn Marble, son of Iowa's All-Time leading scorer (Roy Marble), takes the biscuit to the basket and finishes with a flush over the Minnesota defender. Marble truly is a do-it-all player, possessing the abilities to score, rebound, pass and defend from either the point guard or wing positions.
Marble took a big jump between his sophomore and junior seasons, as Iowa lost four-year starter Matt Gatens during that time. If Marble can make a similar leap into his senior season, he has a chance to hear his name selected in the 2014 NBA Draft.
In this video, White leads the fastbreak before giving up the ball, only to get it back for an alley-oop dunk. White, who is currently playing for the United States in the World University Games, finds himself above the rim often. McCaffery said that in White's freshman season, all he did was dunk and shoot three-pointers.
His sophomore season was much more well-rounded, as White developed a mid-range game and a slashing ability to help lead to many free-throw attempts. White is most dangerous around the baseline and uses the hoop well to finish around the rim.
The third straight dunk video is shown here, when Basabe takes an errant shot off the backboard for a flush in an overtime battle at Purdue. The enigmatic Basabe finally found some consistency late in his junior season, nearly matching his impressive freshman campaign.
As a senior, Basabe needs to be a leader now. This former Siena recruit followed McCaffery when the latter took the Iowa job. Basabe could be a walking double-double if he brings the same intensity to every game. He is also an accomplished shot-blocker.
Basabe needs to get off to an early start in his senior season; otherwise, he could find himself coming off the bench again, which he hasn't responded well to thus far in his career.
The fourth and final dunk highlight video shown here is by soon-to-be sophomore Adam Woodbury. This 7-footer is still raw offensively, but he has the size to be a true force in this league. He has a sweet hook shot and can disrupt the game on the boards and defending shots, but he still lacks the confidence to be a star.
Woodbury was recruited by pretty much everywhere you could think out of high school, but he decided to stay and play for his home state team. The growth of Woodbury could be key to Iowa's success, though as stated in the first slide, the Hawkeyes have tons of frontcourt depth.