Wieskamp Makes It Look Easy As Iowa Rolls Over Minnesota

Joe Wieskamp gestures after a 3-pointer in Iowa's win over Minnesota on Monday. (Jeffrey Becker/USA Today Sports)

John Bohnenkamp

It’s been advice Jordan Bohannon has been giving Joe Wieskamp for a long time.

Shoot the ball.

“I tell him that every day after practice, every day I ever see him,” Bohannon, Iowa’s point guard, said. “I tell him you need to shoot the ball every time I pass it to you.”

So, it’s 31 seconds into Monday’s game against Minnesota, the Hawkeyes are on a fast break, Bohannon passes the ball to an open Wieskamp, who hit a 3-pointer.

See how easy it is?

But it hasn’t been that easy for Wieskamp at times this season.

And with center Luka Garza, the Big Ten’s leading scorer this season, needing help and company as opponents throw concoctions of defenses at him, Wieskamp came through with his best offensive game of the season.

The sophomore wing scored a season-high 23 points in the Hawkeyes’ 72-52 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa (7-3 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) got another double-double from Garza — 21 points, 10 rebounds — and an odd stat line from Bohannon — 0 points, 10 assists, 0 turnovers — to get through the opening weekend of conference play all even, not having to stare at an 0-2 hole that could have been waiting for them when January arrived.

The Hawkeyes’ 103-91 loss at Michigan was a Garza show — 44 points — but there wasn’t a lot of help at either end of the court.

Wieskamp had just seven points in the game, but was just as unhappy with his defense.

“Not closing out, letting guys drive me,” he said. “I pride myself on being a good defensive player.”

He was much better defensively — we’ll get to that in a moment — but Wieskamp had his best shooting night of the season.

Wieskamp scored 11 of Iowa’s first 13 points — he had an assist on the other two points, a layup by CJ Fredrick — and 13 of the first 17. He wouldn’t score again until the last field goal of the first half, a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left, and then he opened the second half with a 3-pointer that gave the Hawkeyes a 40-29 lead.

“I tried to come out, be aggressive from the get-go,” Wieskamp said. “If I had an open shot, I was going to take it. Any time you hit your first shot, it kind of gets you going, gives you a lot of confidence.”

“Wiesy’s got to be a part (of the offense),” Bohannon said.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery wasn’t concerned. He remembered last Tuesday’s 68-54 win at Syracuse, when Wieskamp shut down the Orange’s Elijah Hughes, holding him to just 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting.

“He was locked in and he's been that way,” McCaffery said. “It's interesting because he's often evaluated on his offensive game, his defense at Syracuse, I mean, he guarded a guy and held him to 10 that got 35 in the next game on the road. And I applauded him. I watched every game, and that kid is a pro, and he got 10. So the thing that was impressive to me about Joe tonight was he played that kind of defense and then he played that kind of offense.

“And that's what the great ones do.”

Wieskamp’s best defensive play came when the Gophers (4-5, 0-1) were on a 7-0 run to get to within 55-45. Minnesota guard Tre’ Williams was open for a 3-pointer, but Wieskamp roared toward Williams, blocking the shot and then grabbing the ball. Wieskamp raced to the other end for the dunk, hanging on the rim as Williams darted below him.

“I kind of lost grip on the rim a little bit,” Wieskamp said. “I hung on for dear life. I think I was going so fast, the momentum took me forward. I was scared for a second was going to get a (technical foul), but I was trying to stay safe.”

“I thought Wieskamp's block and run out was huge at that point,” McCaffery said.

Garza had just seven points on 3-of-9 shooting in the first half. He was 5-of-8 in the second half, doubling his point total.

“I started off too nonchalant with my dribbles, they were coming really hard,” Garza said. “Which was not what they were doing at Michigan — they gave me more space, I could dribble more. Tonight I couldn’t do that. I knew I had to be quick, get into good position. I did a better job of handling (double teams), passing out of it. They can’t really keep that kind of pressure on me.”

“Really, I thought he was spectacular in the second half,” McCaffery said.

“I think our guys were all dialed in, but they needed to realize that Iowa has great potential all around,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “As much as we did a good job on Garza in the first half, Wieskamp killed us early. They have good balance. Offensively, they just keeping coming at you.”

Iowa had 20 assists on 26 field goals.

“It means we’re looking for each other,” McCaffery said. “Obviously, it starts with Garza. But if Joe gets hot, we have got to find him.”

That’s the best advice.