Hawkeye Grab Bag #1: Bohannon and Hellerball Heads to Omaha
A short recap of a couple of big stories in Iowa athletics this week.
Jordan Bohannon To Have Hip Surgery
On Tuesday, the University of Iowa announced that senior guard Jordan Bohannon will undergo a hip scope procedure on Wednesday, May 22 and will be out indefinitely. According to the the Des Moines Register's Chad Leistikow, who was the first to break the story, Bohannon is being told that the recovery period is likely between five and nine months. Additionally, Leistikow reports that Bohannon's mindset is that if he isn't ready to play by the exhibition season, he will likely opt to redshirt through the 2019-2020 season and return for his senior campaign in 2020-2021. Here is a link to Chad's original article to read more:
On the surface, the Bohannon news seems like a really good reason to panic. Bohannon figured to play a monstrous in his senior campaign, with his role magnified further by the recent departures of Maishe Dailey to Akron, Isaiah Moss to Arkansas, Nicholas Baer to graduation, and presumably Tyler Cook to professional basketball. Add to that the severe lack of depth that Iowa was already experiencing at the guard position, the outlook is pretty bleak.
However, don't panic just yet. As was outlined in my basketball recap, Iowa is returning a ton when it comes to leadership and talent. Luka Garza hit his stride late in the year and with a full summer to get stronger and continue to build his game, I would anticipate a breakout campaign for the big man from D.C. I also think Joe Weiskamp will take massive steps forward this summer and can help pick up a substantial portion of the scoring that is lost by the departures and the potential Bohannon injury. The Hawks are also adding a ton of talent to the roster, with two true freshmen (J. Toussaint and P. McCaffery) joining the team and two more players coming back from redshirting (Pemsl and Nunge) last year. These four players will need to play huge roles in steadying and righting the ship should Bohannon miss the season.
One other wild card that has yet to become clear is the two open scholarships that Iowa currently has. Iowa has been actively searching the transfer landscape and looking to add some immediate depth to the roster. I think the best thing that comes out of the Bohannon announcement on Tuesday is the timing of the announcement. Fran McCaffery and his staff has time to build a roster to cope with playing through Jordan Bohannon's absence. Don't give up on the 2019-2020 Iowa Hawkeyes just yet, there are still many chapters of their story to be written.
Win or Go Home: An Iowa Baseball Story
After stumbling to the finish line and dropping 5 of their last 6 contests, the University of Iowa baseball team finds themselves in a win or go home scenario when the Big Ten Baseball Tournament starts on Wednesday in Omaha. Entering the series with Michigan State two weekends ago, many outlets familiar with the NCAA baseball RPI system had Iowa right on the bubble. After losing 2 of 3 against the struggling Spartans and dropping all three to the Maryland Terrapins in the last series of the season, Iowa finds themselves with one path to the NCAA tournament; win 4 games in 5 days and take home the Big Ten tournament championship.
Iowa will open play as the No. 8 seed against the top-seeded Indiana Hoosiers. First pitch is slated for 5:00 P.M. at T.D. Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. The tournament is a traditional double elimination format. The full tournament schedule can be found at the link below:
The Hawkeyes and Hoosiers faced off in late March in Bloomington, with the Hoosiers taking all three in the weekend series. That series loss seemed to spark a fire for Iowa, as they rattled off six consecutive series victories before dropping the final two series of the season.
The Hawkeyes face an uphill battle against a potent Indiana offense to get 4 wins in 5 days started. In the regular season series, Indiana put up an astounding 23 runs in the three games and only allowed four Iowa runs. Iowa will likely need to strike early and continue to add runs and support a pitching staff that struggled down the stretch, allowing 47 in the final six games of the season, if they want to upset the Hoosiers.
The saving grace is that Iowa baseball has had a great deal of success in the Big Ten Tournament since coach Rick Heller's arrival in Iowa City and have shown a knack for winning under pressure this season, accumulating 7 wins in their last at bat. They have also compiled a 9-3 record against Top 30 teams this season, often playing their best baseball against the top teams on their schedule. I will never doubt Hellerball when it comes time for the Big Ten Tournament and this team has plenty of talent to get hot and find their way into the NCAA tournament.
My players to watch that could really indicate whether this Iowa team will make a run at the NCAA tournament are pitchers Grant Judkins and Grant Leonard and position players Ben Norman and Chris Whelan. When Iowa has been playing winning baseball this season, those four guys have been key contributors. Be on the lookout for those guys in Omaha.
As always, On Iowa! and Go Hawks!
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