Iowa lost its exhibition finale in stunning fashion on Friday night as Division II powerhouse Augustana University topped the Hawkeyes, 76-74, on a buzzer-beater from senior forward Daniel Jensen.
Trailing by as many as 15 points, Iowa made a furious comeback, but ultimately fell short to the national title contender from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. While losing to a Division II school at home doesn’t look good for the Hawkeyes, Augustana has been rated as the No. 1 Division II team in the country by multiple publications entering the 2015-16 season. They return five starters from a team that went 31-3 last season. Jensen, the hero who finished with 19 points for Augustana, was grassroots teammates with Iowa seniors Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury in high school. So these guys can definitely play and the Vikings are probably better than many low-major Division I programs.
There are some concerning elements to this loss for Iowa, however. They were outrebounded, 42-35, in the game and lost despite the Vikings missing 13 of their first 14 shots. Depth has also been a bit of an issue for head coach Fran McCaffery during the preseason as he’s trying to figure out which of his new pieces can play right away. As Don Doxsie of the Quad City Times noted, reserves like Dom Uhl, Ahmad Wagner, Andrew Fleming and Christian Williams didn’t play at all in the second half against Augustana.
It also appears that freshman shooting guard Isaiah Moss will redshirt this season with freshman forward Brandon Hutton being a candidate to do that as well.
Losses to Division II schools during exhibition play can be embarrassing for fans, but with the game not counting for anything, it really doesn’t mean a thing. This kind of loss could either be a wake-up call for an Iowa team that has to address some concerns, or a sign of things to come.