#61 Northern Iowa Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Northern Iowa Panthers

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #61
Conference Rank: #2 Missouri Valley

Northern Iowa Team Page#61 Northern Iowa Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Northern Iowa Basketball Tickets

Northern Iowa had a forgettable season, finishing just one game over .500 overall and 10-8 in Missouri Valley play. That was good enough to be third in the conference behind undefeated Wichita State and 12-6 Indiana State, but it was not enough to get into the postseason. The expectations are much higher this season with the return of the team’s top five scorers. And nobody is a better scorer than Seth Tuttle. The 6-8 senior led the team with 15.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.1 rebounds per game. Tuttle does most of his damage in the paint, but he is capable of stepping outside and knocking down some jumpers.

2013-14 Record: 16-15, 10-8
2013-14 Postseason: None
Coach: Ben Jacobson
Coach Record: 166-101 at Northern Iowa, 166-101 overall

Who’s Out:
Chip Rank was a part-time starter during his senior season, but only averaged 5.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. The 6-6 forward was usually good for knocking down some three-pointers and playing some decent defense. Matt Morrison and Nate Buchheit are the only other departures and those two did not see much action.

Who’s In:
With so much talent returning, the Panthers do not need too much from their large group of newcomers, but there are plenty of potential starters and impact players here. Paul Jesperson spent two years at Virginia and started as a sophomore. The big 6-6 guard is a quality shooter and can use his size to get to the basket. His 4.7 points per game at UVA may not sound all that impressive, but he will be able to boost those numbers. Junior college transfers Taylor Olson and Kasey Semler will provide Coach Ben Jacobson with even more options on the perimeter. The freshmen are pretty good too. Wyatt Lohaus is expected to be the point guard of the future, but the future could be now as long as he can take care of the ball. Robert Knar adds depth to the point guard spot, but minutes will be extremely difficult for him to come by. Small forward Klint Carlson is a player to watch. Like all the freshmen, it will be tough to find minutes. Bennett Koch comes from a long line of Panthers and knows how to make an impact as a freshman. The 6-9 forward may not start right away, but there is a place for him in the regular rotation.

Who to Watch:
Wes Washpun, Deon Mitchell, Matt Bohannon and Jeremy Morgan form a very dangerous backcourt. Washpun dished out 3.8 assists per game and can run this team effectively. Mitchell is a talent and averaged 12.1 points per game, but his shooting was inconsistent. Bohannon led the team with 77 three-pointers made on the year. He is mostly a shooter and the new talent could relegate him to a shooter off the bench role sooner or later. Morgan had a great freshman year and has all of the skills to turn into Northern Iowa’s go-to-scorer. Nate Buss and Marvin Singleton will join Tuttle in the frontcourt. Buss, a 6-9 senior, was a superb bench player last season, averaging 10.6 points and 5.0 rebounds. Singleton got a handful of starts as a junior and should once again at least provide some quality and experienced depth in the paint.

Final Projection:
If anybody besides Wichita State is going to compete for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, it should be Northern Iowa. However, the Panthers have been down this road before where they return so much experience from an average team. And it has not always worked out as expected. The Panthers must take advantage of their returning experience and win some of their marquee non-conference games if there is any hope for an at-large berth. However, there are not many marquee games on the schedule.  

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Wes Washpun, Junior, Guard, 8.3 points per game
Matt Bohannon, Junior, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Jeremy Morgan, Sophomore, Guard, 6.0 points per game
Nate Buss, Senior, Forward, 10.6 points per game
Seth Tuttle, Senior, Forward, 15.4 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.8 (111th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.3 (151, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.0 (132, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.2 (201, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.5 (18, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.1 (93, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.4 (80, 2)
Rebound Margin: -0.8 (215, 6)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (75, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.6 (46, 2)


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