Northern Iowa Men's Basketball 2012 NIT Capsule

Northern Iowa Panthers
Missouri Valley (19-13, 9-9)

Northern Iowa has been terribly inconsistent during the 2011-2012 campaign. They started off very well, beating the likes of Old Dominion, Providence, Iowa State, Colorado State and Iowa in the first month of the season. But conference play did not go nearly as well. The Missouri Valley Conference is always tough, especially on the road, but the Panthers had some very questionable losses.

Big Wins: 11/30 at Iowa State (69-62), 12/3 Colorado State (83-77), 2/4 Creighton (65-62)
Bad Losses: 1/1 Evansville (65-76), 1/15 at Bradley (67-78), 2/15 at Evansville (62-63)
Coach: Ben Jacobson (6 seasons at Northern Iowa)

Why They Can Surprise:
This is still a UNI team that shoots a lot from long range and takes care of the ball. When their shots are falling, the Panthers can beat some very good teams. There is not a single player who shoots a lot of three-pointers, but just about everybody on the team is a threat. Junior Marc Sonnen is usually the most dangerous shooter. Fellow guards Anthony James, Johnny Moran, Deon Mitchell and Matt Morrison are all capable shooters. James is the perimeter threat to keep an eye on. The 6-0 junior is easily the most dynamic scorer on the team and he will take the big shots for Northern Iowa. Oddly, the Panthers do not commit turnovers, but nobody has really stepped up to take over the leadership role at the point guard position. Moran and Mitchell are capable ball handlers, but it has really been a team effort that has led to the impressive amount of turnovers. Forward Jake Koch actually leads the team in assists and has the versatility to score inside and outside and help out the backcourt by finding the open players with his passing skills.

Why They Can Disappoint:
As important as Koch is to this team, his junior campaign has been relatively disappointing. His scoring output is down from last season and UNI really needs an interior presence that can score more consistently. Freshman Seth Tuttle has emerged as a solid interior scorer and the best rebounder on the team, but Tuttle and Koch can only do so much. Forward Chip Rank is more of a shooter than a post player and the frontcourt depth is very limited. That has led to Coach Ben Jacobson running some smaller lineups. UNI will lose the battle on the glass against most teams and can get absolutely dominated by a bigger, stronger frontcourt. Even Northern Iowa’s hallmark defense has been a little down this year. Without a shot blocker, the opposition is scoring more points against the Panthers than usual and this is not a team that has the offensive firepower to outscore anybody.

Probable Starters:
Johnny Moran, Senior, Guard, 7.3 ppg, 1.2 apg
Deon Mitchell, Freshman, Guard, 7.0 ppg, 1.7 apg
Marc Sonnen, Junior, Guard, 8.5 ppg, 1.8 apg
Seth Tuttle, Freshman, Forward, 9.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Jake Koch, Junior, Forward, 8.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.1 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Anthony James, Junior, Guard, 12.9 ppg, 1.6 apg, 4.4 rpg
Matt Morrison, Sophomore, Guard, 3.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg
Chip Rank, Sophomore, Forward, 6.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 65.2 (232nd in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.8 (51, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.2 (183, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.7 (198, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.9 (34, 3)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.2 (18, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.7 (60, 5)
Rebound Margin: -1.2 (233, 7)
Assists Per Game: 11.3 (282, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.0 (18, 2)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
Northern Iowa        2011    CIT           Quarterfinal loss to Southern Methodist
Northern Iowa        2010    NCAA        Round of 64 win over UNLV
Northern Iowa        2010    NCAA        Round of 32 win over Kansas
Northern Iowa        2010    NCAA        Regional Semifinal loss to Michigan State
Northern Iowa        2009    NCAA        Round of 64 loss to Purdue
Northern Iowa        2006    NCAA        Round of 64 loss to Georgetown
Northern Iowa        2005    NCAA        Round of loss to Wisconsin

*all team stats through 3/4

See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules