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Next Up - Iowa In The Jimmy V Classic

Another intriguing opponent awaits in the Garden

Boston College v Duke
 DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 03: Makai Ashton-Langford #11 of the Boston College Eagles drives against Dereck Lively II #1 of the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 3, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 75-59.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Date 12/6 || Time 9:30 || Venue Madison Square Garden || Video ESPN

A lot of fans won’t remember or know this, but Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey started off at Wake Forest. His nickname then was White Magic and there was great anticipation to see him play.

He lasted just one season with Carl Tacy before heading back home to Philly, where he played for Penn. His dreams of athletic glory clashed with reality and after graduation, McCaffrey sensibly moved into coaching.

He’s a solid coach and did a tremendous job at Siena before moving to Iowa in 2010.

At Iowa, he’s won consistently except for his first season and 2017-18, when the Hawkeyes fell to 14-19.

His record there is a respectable 248-163 and he’s distinguished himself by developing some wonderful players, notably the terrific big man Luka Garza and Keegan Murray, who was the #4 pick in June’s NBA Draft.

McCaffrey has taken Lehigh, UNC-G, Siena and Iowa to the big dance but he’s never gotten beyond the round of 32.

This year, Iowa is off to a 6-1 start and that includes wins over Clemson (74-71) and Georgia Tech.

Iowa loses Murray of course, but also Jordan Bohannon, who was an amazing clutch player for the Hawkeyes. That’s a lot to overcome.

You may remember that scene in Star Wars where Obi-Wan says “that boy is our last hope” and Yoda says “no. There is another.”

Well, Iowa has another Murray: Keegan’s twin Kris is back and he’s doing pretty well too: the 6-8 junior is averaging 21 ppg. and 10.6 rebounds. That’s really impressive. He’s also shooting 51.4 percent and 40.5 percent from deep. Interestingly, his father, Kenyon, named him for his Iowa teammate Chris Street, who died tragically in an auto accident in 1993.

McCaffrey has a deep rotation with nine players getting double-figure minutes.

Filip Rebraca, a 6-9 senior from Serbia, is putting up 10.3 ppg and 8.0 rebounds.

Tony Perkins, who has probably had it up to here with Psycho jokes and references, is a 6-4 junior who is averaging 12.8 ppg and 3.5 apg.

Patrick McMurray, a 6-9 junior and son of you-know-who, is putting up 12.9 ppg and 4.1 rebounds.

Ahron Ulis is a 6-3 junior who doesn't have gaudy stats but is averaging 6.4 ppg and 2.9 assists.

Connor McCaffrey, Patrick’s older brother, is a 6-6 grad student who is getting 21.1 mpg, 5.4 ppg and 3.6 rpg.

Payton Sandfort is a 6-7 sophomore who is getting 8.4 ppg and 3.7 rpg.

Dasonte Bowen is a 6-2 freshman from Boston. He’s getting 5.4 ppg.

Josh Dix is a 6-5 freshman. He’s not putting up big numbers but he’s playing 11 mpg for a reason.

Iowa did beat Clemson, but PJ Hall was just beginning to come back from his knee injury and the Hawkeyes won by just three, 74-71. And the Georgia Tech game was a Murray eruption: he shot 11-18 and 4-8 on threes for 31 points.

So what to make of the Hawkeyes vs. Duke?

Well, Duke has a size advantage obviously with 7-0 freshman Kyle Filipowski, 7-1 freshman Dereck Lively and 6-10 Ryan Young. Murray will have to be dealt with and Mark Mitchell will probably get the first crack at him. Stopping him is the key to stopping Iowa and Mitchell will get help from Dariq Whitehead, who is going to have a breakout game soon and possibly in the Garden, which would be sweet.

The Blue Devils should contest Iowa’s backcourt reasonably well: Jeremy Roach is an outstanding defender, Tyrese Proctor is coming on fast and Jaylen Blakes is a really aggressive defender and a nightmare coming off the bench: Roach softens you up and Blakes comes in and just cranks things up even further.

What we are really curious about is what we saw from Lively against Boston College. For the first few minutes, that guy was everywhere and he’s so quick that you might think you’re past him but you're not.

We’ve seen a huge competitive drive from Filipowski, who has earned widespread praise for his solid all-around game and ability to get to the basket. Duke fans probably understand that he can shoot threes but Iowa may not understand just how dangerous a shooter he is.

In general, this is where we see Duke now: the defense is well ahead of the offense, which is why Duke hasn’t really racked up big scores yet. We’re not talking winning margins here, we’re talking offensive explosions.

The offense is not where it is going to be.

However, with Lively’s last outing and clear signs that Whitehead too is rounding into form (both players are moving past injuries), Duke’s offensive potential is intriguing.

But let’s go back to the defense. Clearly, new coach Jon Scheyer has taught defensive principles well because scoring on the Blue Devils is not easy. And as Whitehead continues to get into game shape, the potential on that end is scary good. If you put out any combination of Roach, Proctor, Blakes, Whitehead, Lively and Mitchell, that’s going to very tough to score on.

We’ve sensed some impatience from fans and to a lesser extent the media, but the reality is that Duke started without the two players, Lively and Whitehead, who are seen as the most talented.

Well they’re nearly back now and look at how well Duke played without them. Yes they lost to Kansas and Purdue but Kansas was the third game of the season and Duke was in it until fairly late. As far as Purdue goes, if anyone has a great answer to Zach Edey, please let us know.

That said, Duke still has a significant disadvantage: Iowa has eight upper classmen and three sophomores. The Blue Devils have two returning scholarship player.

McCaffrey has a real appreciation for up-tempo basketball. Iowa likes to push the pace and will try to get the game in the 80s or 90s.

Duke has the talent to suppress that, but having it and doing it are two different things. And keep in mind that McCaffrey has really done a great job of developing players. We might think that what you see is what you get, but what we may get is a young player who is waiting to break out. McCaffrey clearly has an eye for guys who work well in his system and the talent to bring them along in a timely manner.

You can be glad that Bohannon is gone - that guy was one of the best clutch players since Christian Laettner - but like Notre Dame under Mike Brey, there’s a pretty good chance that an excellent player is about to emerge. We just don’t know who.

We really recommend reading DavidBenAkiva’s comments on Iowa as posted on the boards. He’s doing really good work.

We’ll add links as we find them.