You can say Iowa needs help at point guard without calling out Jordan Bohannon

Jordan Bohannon looks to drive against Wisconsin. Photo by Jeff Yoder

By Pat Harty

IOWA CITY, Iowa - To say that the Iowa men’s basketball team needs help at point guard seems to create a misconception.

It doesn’t mean you’re criticizing Jordan Bohannon, or suggesting that he is incapable of playing point guard at the highest Division I level.

The former Linn-Mar star has played it for almost two seasons for the Hawkeyes and is on course to be one of the best point guards in program history from a statistical standpoint.

Bohannon is arguably the most important player on the Iowa team due mostly to his ability to make 3-point shots and his passing ability.

He is the closest Iowa has to a point guard, especially with freshman Connor McCaffery sidelined by health issues.

I’ll go even further than that by saying the 6-foot Bohannon is a point guard, and to say otherwise, as many apparently have on social media, is being in denial.

But on the other hand, Iowa still needs help at point guard, or at least help in the backcourt.

Can't we at least agree on that?

Incoming freshmen Joe Wieskamp and C.J. Fredrick both should contribute immediately, especially the 6-6 Wieskamp, but neither is a point guard.

The 6-5 Connor McCaffery also should help at point guard next season, and 6-7 sophomore Maishe Dailey has filled in at point guard some this season.

So it’s not that the cupboard is bare behind Bohannon.

But imagine how nicely a quick, penetrating, pass-first, in-your-face-defending point guard would fit on the current Iowa roster. Former Iowa point guards Chauncey Leslie and Bryce Cartwright are just two that come to mind.

Bohannon is one of the greatest shooters I’ve ever seen, but he struggles on defense to stay in front of quicker point guards. And when a point guard struggles on defense, his or her teams often struggles on defense.

And that has certainly been the case with Iowa.

Bohannon also exerts so much energy and focus to his role as a point guard that his greatest skill as a shooter sometimes gets overlooked or neglected.

The addition of an athletic point guard would allow for Bohannon to play off the ball more than he does now, and that would lead to more open shots for Bohannon, which should always be the goal.

Bohannon rarely has the luxury to rest because the offense often unravels when isn't playing point guard and handling the ball.

Isaiah Moss has had his moments this season as the starting shooting guard, but not nearly enough. His inconsistency is one of the reasons Iowa is just 3-11 in the Big Ten and 12-15 overall heading into Wednesday’s game at Michigan.

A quick, pass-first point guard playing alongside Bohannon for long stretches and defending the opposing point guard would seem like an improvement.

And when that quick, pass-first point guard goes to the bench, Bohannon could step in with no disruption or drop-off, because whether some of you want to admit it or not, he is a point guard.

Iowa currently doesn’t have any scholarships available for next season. But rosters are always fluid, so that could change.

It is sad and unfortunate that Bohannon has been ridiculed on social media as part of the fallout from a disappointing season.

I would like to think that it’s a small part of the fan base that would behave that way, but even a few trolls can hurt.

It isn't Bohannon's fault that he is the only viable option at point guard right now.

It also isn't his fault that backup point guard Christian Williams left the team in October and has since transferred to Indiana State. Williams returned to Iowa for his junior season knowing that he almost certainly would be Bohannon's backup again at point guard. Williams stayed with team throughout preseason practice, but then left abruptly in late October and the day before Iowa's first exhibition game, saying in a release that he wanted to transfer to a school closer to his home in Decatur, Ill.

His sudden departure just seemed weird at the time, and still does. 

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery should consider banning his players from Twitter, at least during the season, because the criticism seems to really bother Bohannon

“I hate it,” he said at a recent press conference.

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz bans his players from using Twitter and has one less distraction to worry about.

The hope is that this season is an aberration, or a fluke rather than a sign of things to come.

Sophomore forward Tyler Cook has had some spectacular offensive performances this season, and he along with Bohannon and 6-11 freshman center Luke Garza, give Iowa a talented triumvirate to build around.

And yet, their team still is struggling to stay out of last place in the Big Ten with only four conference games remaining.

So, obviously, something is wrong, especially on defense.

Iowa has struggled to defend for almost the entire season. Help defense, transition defense, zone defense and man-to-man, you name it and the Hawkeyes have struggled to do it.

You could argue that Iowa’s current roster has too many frontline players and not enough quick guards to compete in the Big Ten.

And it’s fair to say that Iowa needs help in the backcourt, including at point guard, without being unfair to Bohannon.