CALGARY, Alta. — The 2017-18 season is just around the corner, and while there’s a debate on Twitter as to when the season actually starts, it can’t get here soon enough.
Schedules are being released with each passing weekday, and many of them feature early-season tournaments and multi-team events all throughout non-conference play. According to Chris Dobbertean and Blogging the Bracket, there are over 30 multi-team tournaments, and another handful of neutral site showcases and non-exempt events.
So, with the season coming up, we thought we would go through and preview all of the early-season tournaments, the non-exempt tournaments, and a wide array of the neutral site showcase events. In total, we will preview 75 different events over the course of the next 75 days, culminating on opening day.
We selected the events at random, and have broken some up into two pieces, like the Phil Knight Invitational, since there are two separate brackets.
Today, we take a look at the 2017 Hy-Vee Classic.
Event: Hy-Vee Classic
Location: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA
Dates: December 17th, 2017
Number of Teams: Four
2016-17 Winner: N/A
About the Hy-Vee Classic
The Hy-Vee Classic, formerly known as the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic, is an annual showcase event that features the four Division I teams from the state of Iowa.
Since 2012, the event has been held inside the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA. The arena is home to the Iowa Wild and the Iowa Stars on a regular basis.
In the five years that the event has been known as the Hy-Vee Classic, the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones have yet to square off in the event due to the Northern Iowa Panthers and Drake Bulldogs both playing in the Missouri Valley Conference. The teams are unable to play one another due to their conference affiliation, meaning they rotate playing either the Hawkeyes or Cyclones.
The Drake Bulldogs have yet to win a game during the Hy-Vee Classic over the past five seasons.
From last season’s roster to this season, the obvious thing about the Iowa Hawkeyes is that are without their star, as Peter Jok graduated following the 2016-17 season. Jok averaged a team-best 19.9 points per contest, and finished second on the team in rebounding, averaging 5.5 boards per contest.
With Jok gone, the Hawkeyes will turn to the likes of sophomores Tyler Cook and Jordan Bohannon to lead the way. As freshmen last season, Cook (12.3 ppg) and Bohannon (10.9 ppg) finished second and third on the Hawkeyes in scoring, respectively. They have the talent to lead Iowa this season, but they don’t have the experience. Look for Dom Uhl to take on an expanded leadership role this season with the team, and that may translate into more minutes and an increase in production for the 6’9” forward.
The Drake Bulldogs, the Hawkeyes’ opponent on December 16th, have a new head coach and a slew of seniors on their roster who could very well lead the Bulldogs to their first win in the Hy-Vee Classic.
Niko Medved comes to Drake from the Furman Paladins, and has one of the more underrated back courts in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bulldogs return four of their top six scorers from last season, led by Reed Timmer, who averaged 15.3 points per contest. The trio of Timmer, De’Antae McMurray (9.1 ppg, 3.0 apg), and Ore Arogundade (7.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg) are all seniors in 2017-18, and will look to lead the Bulldogs over the Hawkeyes with a combination of talent and experience.
In the other match-up, the Northern Iowa Panthers will go for their second win over the Cyclones in the Hy-Vee Classic. The last time the two teams squared off in the event, the Panthers notched an 81-79 win over the Cyclones on December 19th, 2015.
Jeremy Morgan has graduated from the Panthers’ program, which is a huge loss to the team on both ends of the floor. Northern Iowa does return a front court rotation that features 6’10” Bennett Koch (11.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and 6’7” Klint Carlson (8.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg), and they have several players who are in line for an expanded role this season. If a guard can establish themselves early on in the season as the go-to guy, then the Panthers could knock off the Cyclones for the second time in three seasons.
Like the Panthers, the Cyclones said their goodbyes to their star guard at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. Monte Morris, who led the Cyclones in scoring with 16.4 points per game, graduated after last season, leaving a big hole in the back court. The likes of Matt Thomas, Deonte Burton, and Naz Mitrou-Long are all gone, leaving the Cyclones without their top four scorers.
However, head coach Steve Prohm has reloaded his roster by way of the graduate transfer market and with a talented freshman from north of the border. The Cyclones welcome in graduate transfers Marial Shayok (Virginia Cavaliers), Jeff Beverly (UTSA Roadrunners), and Hans Brase (Princeton Tigers), all of whom will look to provide significant production out of the gate. Canadian freshman guard Lindell Wigginton adds another element to the offense for the Cyclones, and injects some youth into the lineup.
December 17th, 2017
Northern Iowa Panthers v. Iowa State Cyclones
Drake Bulldogs v. Iowa Hawkeyes
Northern Iowa v. Iowa State
Winner: Iowa State Cyclones
Drake v. Iowa
Winner: Iowa Hawkeyes
– T. Bennett