MBB: Fresh Faced Hawkeyes Lead Iowa Over Central Michigan
By Scott Dochterman, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery recruited freshman Anthony Clemmons knowing that he already locked up his point guard of the future in Mike Gesell.
Yet Clemmons came anyway and Gesell stayed committed because playing time was available. Monday, just two games into the season, Clemmons and Gesell played side-by-side for most of the second half. Gesell scored 15 points and Clemmons added nine to lift the Hawkeyes to a 73-61 win against Central Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"Very rarely will when one point guard commits another point guard comes," McCaffery said. "It just doesn't happen. But both of them can shoot the ball, and both of them can defend. So I could legitimately, honestly tell them that I would play them both together at different times, and I have, and I will."
Iowa went to a smaller lineup in the second half to combat Central Michigan's offensive penetration. Clemmons played 15 minutes in the second half and took the point in several situations while Gesell shifted to off-guard. Devyn Marble moved to the wing and Eric May played power forward. All of them played at least 13 minutes after halftime with Marble playing the entire game.
"We were just matching up to them," McCaffery said. "They went small, small and quick. They took their center out, and they were spreading us and driving the ball. So we had to put a team out there that could contain penetration. We gave them five 3s in the first half. We felt like if we gave them five 3s in the second half, that would really be problematic. So we contained penetration better and contested 3s better."
"They came with a small lineup, a lot of guards and they were trying to take us off the dribble," Gesell said. "So we knew we had to get Sapp (Clemmons) in there to get a little bit smaller lineup so we could match up better. Sapp is a tremendous defender, and I think that helped us get out on a run a little bit. He's a great distributor."
The lineup also worked offensively. With Iowa leading 41-38 with 13 minutes to go, Gesell popped a 3-pointer with an assist from May. On Iowa's next possession, May drove for a layup. Marble followed with a jumper, Gesell drained another 3-pointer, then Marble hit another 3. That sequence was part of a 13-2 run that gave Iowa a 54-40 lead.
Clemmons led many of the possessions as the point guard, which freed Gesell and Marble to work from the outside. Gesell hit 3-of-6 from 3-point range, while Marble led all scorers with 18 points. Clemmons also hit a pair of 3-pointers, including one at the end of the first half.
"If we're trying to score, I'll try to take the point and I'll let Mike do his thing," Clemmons said. "Coach McCaffery said, 'you take the one, he goes to the two.' Out-of-bounds play, he's the better scorer. I'll give him that, hands down."
McCaffery said it wasn't the plan to play the freshmen together against Central Michigan. But now that Clemmons and Gesell have proven they can play and win side-by-side, he won't hesitate to do so again.
"They didn't play like freshmen; Mike never does," McCaffery said. "The great thing about Anthony is he made a couple freshman mistakes but came right back. He didn't linger on him, and that's a big-time sign for me that he's special."
"We had to adjust to what they were doing and it ended up being the right move," Marble said. "Coach McCaffery knows what he's doing."