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WRNL Interrogates Jonah Parker from Black Heart Gold Pants

We talked with the enemy.

Iowa v Villanova Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

We talked with Jonah Parker from our (little) sister site, Black Heart Gold Pants about tonight’s CyHawk matchup. You can follow him on Twitter at @JPinIC_BHGP or Black Heart Gold Pants at @BHGP, if you’re into that kind of thing.

1) Iowa has dropped two games in a row now, albeit to two good opponents in Illinois and Purdue. Have you noticed any issues that you think might linger through the rest of the season?

The biggest thing over the last two games has been a step up in competition. Purdue is obviously the top team in the nation and Illinois, despite recently dropping from the rankings, is going to finish the year in the top-25. Having said that, Iowa was right with both teams despite being without the nation’s second-leading scoring at Purdue and having him pretty clearly not 100% against the Illini.

Against Purdue, the Hawkeyes looked lost on offense for some time without their star and Jordan Bohannon not finding anything from deep. But they settled in down the stretch and found a ton of momentum with defense of all things. So much so that they were within a pair with a minute and a half to go before a questionable turn of events let Purdue pull away from the free throw stripe.

Illinois was a bit different as they simply out-rebounded Iowa to death. With Murray struggling, the Iowa offense still looked a little off but the bigger issue was the volume of second chance opportunities Iowa gave up.

Looking forward I think that’s a major key for this team. It’s no surprise they lack length in the post with Filip Rebraca Iowa’s tallest starter at just 6’9”. The Hawkeyes got better minutes than expected out of sophomore Josh Ogundele, but they’re going to struggle all season against teams with a high level post presence.

2) Iowa is one of the best teams in the country at valuing the basketball. What’s been the key to that success?

Connor McCaffery gets all the pub in-game with his 12:1 assist to turnover ratio, but collectively Iowa has been much better this year at avoiding silly turnovers. PG Joe Toussaint has been notorious for using his quickness to get past defenders without any real plan once he’s in the paint, but he’s pulled that back so far in 2021 and boasts a 4:1 A/T ratio thus far.

There have clearly been some stretches when Iowa has gotten sloppy, but in general I think this is simply a roster full of guys who know their role and have a firm understanding of the offense. That’s led to better chemistry and fewer head scratchers early on.

3) Jordan Bohannon, is one of the most-hated Hawkeye basketball players in a long time for Cyclone fans, and he’s back for his....7th? season. What’s his role on this team looked like as Keegan Murray has come to prominence?

A lot of people go to school for 7 years! In all seriousness, Bohannon is potentially just as polarizing for Iowa fans as Cyclone fans. Entering this season, there was a lot of concern about him hunting shots and playing hero ball on a team expected to be devoid of shooting outside of him.

But one of the pleasant surprises of this early season has been not only his role but also Fran McCaffery’s use of him. Bohannon has been a starter and as a shooting guard has really been in a more natural fit as a spot-up shooter who Iowa can run sets for when they need a bucket. When he’s on, he’s incredibly dangerous and Fran has given him the green light. But when he isn’t hitting, we’ve seen Fran sit him for long stretches in exchange for more dynamic athletes who offer more defense and penetration, much to the delight of Hawkeye fans.

4) This CyHawk game is a matchup of strength on strength, the Iowa offense and the Iowa State defense going head-to-head. Which side do you see giving ground?

It’s really tough to say. I think a lot of this is going to come down to how well Iowa is shooting the ball. We’ve seen the Hawkeyes light up some very good defenses when they’re feeling it with probably the most notable being their 44 first half points at Virginia - the most ever given up by Tony Bennet’s squad at home. If Bohannon is hitting and Iowa gets outside shooting from the Murrays (while Keegan is an elite scorer, Kris is a better outside shooter), Payton Sandfort or Toussaint or Tony Perkins, this will turn quickly into a track meet.

If we see those shots not falling early, I expect Fran to dip into his bench for more of a scrappy, defense-oriented game that may well favor the Cyclones.

5) What’s your score prediction for the game, and what is the key for either team to win?

I’ll start by saying all the movement in the line leads me to believe we’re going to hear of an ISU injury in the hours leading up to tip-off. But barring any such news, I find it confounding that Iowa is now favored by 5 or more at some books.

I suspect we get some combination of the two above scenarios where the score is higher than most Iowa State games this year, but Iowa does not find meaningful rhythm from deep. Ultimately I think the Cyclones take another close on from Iowa, 77-74