Fresh off a Big Ten Tournament title, the Iowa Hawkeyes are hoping to continue the momentum next season. One of the big storylines for Fran McCaffery’s squad next season is how much production can they get out of the post players.
It was no secret that Iowa was going after some big men in the NCAA Transfer Portal, but couldn’t land the potential fits. When asked about it, sophomore center Riley Mulvey said that it helped motivate him and the rest of the front-court that they need to prove that they deserve the spot during the off-season.
“How I felt, it was me, Josh and Filip and didn’t prove ourselves enough to be a strong five-man so he needed to go check for one,” Mulvey said. “And now that he didn’t get one, we’re going to have to prove ourselves to be able to take the spot.”
Mulvey played in 17 games last season and totaled 16 points and 15 rebounds. During Iowa’s Big Ten Championship showdown with Purdue, Mulvey played three minutes, but allowed Keegan Murray to get some much-needed rest. Mulvey held his own against Travion Williams and Zach Edey.
“I’ve seen good strides from Riley, even from the beginning of last season until the end of the season,” Rebraca said. “He’s gotten a lot more physical and he’s using his body a lot better. I want to keep seeing those things and I want to see him keep shooting and be more aggressive on the offensive end.”
Mulvey admitted on Tuesday that he had a lot of fun during his freshman year and that he wasn’t as serious as he should have been.
“I’m definitely more serious about it because this past year,” Mulvey said. “I thought I was being serious about it, but after looking back at what I was doing, I wasn’t being serious about it.”
Mulvey enrolled a year early and only played 80 minutes. Some players would be bitter about it, but Mulvey has decided to take a glass half-full approach and believes that the realization will help him going forward in his career.
“I feel like the moments I was in (games), I needed,” Mulvey said. “Because if I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have had a moment of realization that I didn’t play because I didn’t work hard enough.
“I would have had that moment this year instead, as a redshirt freshman instead of a sophomore.”
Iowa’s length and athleticism should be intriguing. They will be able to go 6’7, 6’8, 6’9 at the two-guard through power forward spots. Still, the Hawkeyes have had a lack of proven true size. Mulvey has a chance to become a key piece for Iowa if they want to continue building on the foundation that they have laid over the past few years.
Mulvey’s focus this off-season has been on becoming a dominant post-defender. Under McCaffery, Iowa hasn’t had problems with offense. If Mulvey can emerge, bring energy, rebound and become a rim-protector– that could be a big key for Iowa taking that next step as a program.
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