#79 Northern Iowa Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Northern Iowa Panthers

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #79
Conference Rank: #3 Missouri Valley

Northern Iowa Team Page#79 Northern Iowa Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Northern Iowa Basketball Tickets

Despite the doom and gloom outlook by many Northern Iowa fans, the Panthers pulled together at the end of the 2012-2013 campaign and had a pretty good year. There was certainly reason to be concerned before Coach Ben Jacobson’s squad pulled together six straight wins in MVC play in February, but UNI ended up third in the conference standings and won three games in the CIT. There are some key players to replace, yet this group should be able to aim for a better postseason tournament in 2014. That probably will not be the NCAAs, but this is a young team that can take the next step and build towards what should be a very good 2014-2015 season by reaching the NIT for now.

2012-13 Record: 21-15, 11-7
2012-13 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Ben Jacobson
Coach Record: 150-86 at Northern Iowa, 150-86 overall

Who’s Out:
Northern Iowa was a very good outside shooting team, but that may not be the case now that Anthony James and Marc Sonnen are gone. James was more than just a shooter though; he was the Panthers most dynamic perimeter scorer and led the team with 13.2 points per game. Sonnen was one of the best pure shooters in the country last season, knocking down 44.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and 96.6 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe. Since Sonnen rarely ventured inside the arc, he did not take many free-throws, but he was still nice to have on the floor in end of game situations. The significant loss in the frontcourt is Jake Koch, although Austin Pehl did provide an experienced big body off of the bench. But it was Koch who averaged 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. He could even stretch out the defense on occasion and was one of the best passing big men in the conference.

Who’s In:
Coach Jacobson needs some size, preferably with experience, but that did not happen. The only big newcomers are incoming freshmen Bennett Koch and Ted Friedman. Koch is the latest in the line of talented UNI Koch brothers, but he will need some time to come anywhere close to living up to his brothers. Like Koch, Friedman is a versatile big man that will fit well into the UNI system. He has enough toughness to fight in the paint, but he can also knock down some jumpers and handle the ball. Klint Carlson, at 6-7 and 220 pounds, could spend some time at the four spot if necessary, but UNI would likely be in trouble if that happens too often. Jeremy Morgan has the size and toughness to find some minutes on the perimeter. Robert Knar has potential to be a solid point guard in the future and Nate Buchheit and Matt MacDougall can provide some deep, deep depth. Wes Washpun should make the biggest impact right away. The transfer from Tennessee barely played as a freshman with the Volunteers, but that is not going to be the case with the Panthers. Washpun is a great athlete who can handle the ball and if he does not start from day one, he will definitely crack the regular rotation.

Who to Watch:
Deon Mitchell, Matt Bohannon and Seth Tuttle are a great trio to build around. Mitchell led the Panthers with 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals, but he also turned into a decent scorer who could get to the basket. Mitchell is at least a threat to knock down the long ball too and that helps create space for him to get to the basket and finish or find a teammate. Bohannon will be the beneficiary of Mitchell’s driving and dishing as he stands behind the arc. Bohannon knocked down 38.6 percent of his attempts from long range and he is ready to replace Sonnen’s production in the starting lineup. Tuttle is one of the most efficient interior scorers in the MVC. A year ago he averaged 11.4 points and a team high 6.6 rebounds and now as an upperclassman, Tuttle can do even more damage. The problem will be finding a big man to play beside Tuttle, freeing him up to score. Nate Buss and Chip Rank are options, but it remains to be seen if either is really ready for starter minutes. Both can shoot, but Buss has more size, while Rank is a tougher rebounder.

Final Projection:
Max Martino and Marvin Singleton were down the bench a ways in 2012-2013, but both are big guards with potential. Morgan could end up stealing their minutes if he can play defense at this level as well as he did in high school. The options are there on the perimeter and Coach Jacobson will have all of that sorted out by the time conference play rolls around. The frontcourt is going to be trickier. Tuttle needs somebody who can do the dirty work in the paint and it would be helpful if they could score too. Otherwise it could be Mitchell, Bohannon and Tuttle who have to do all of the scoring for this group and that is not going to be enough to keep Northern Iowa competitive in the race for the top spot in the MVC.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Deon Mitchell, Junior, Guard, 9.3 points per game
Matt Bohannon, Sophomore, Guard, 4.7 points per game
Jeremy Morgan, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Chip Rank, Senior, Forward, 3.0 points per game
Seth Tuttle, Junior, Forward, 11.4 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.7 (195th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.9 (52, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.3 (115, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.6 (165, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (38, 3)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.7 (58, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.7 (11, 2)
Rebound Margin: -0.3 (185, 3)
Assists Per Game: 12.3 (204, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.0 (67, 4)


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