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Big Ten men’s basketball team previews: Iowa Hawkeyes

Can Kris Murray replace the production of Keegan Murray?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Basketball Media Day Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Team: Iowa Hawkeyes
Coach: Fran McCaffery
2021-22 record: 26-10 (12-8)
Season finish: NCAA Tournament first round

Players returning: Kris Murray, Patrick McCaffery, Filip Rebraca, Tony Perkins, Ahron Ulis, Payton Sandfort, Riley Mulvey, Carter Kingsbury, Connor McCaffery, Josh Ogundele

Players departed: Keegan Murray, Joe Toussaint (West Virginia)

Key additions: Dasonte Bowen, Josh Dix, Dante Eldridge


This team is not hard to figure out. They have to somehow, someway replace Keegan Murray. Murray took an insane jump last season from averaging 7.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game his freshman year to averaging 23.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game his sophomore season. He was expected to take a jump, but a jump to a top five pick in the NBA Draft was bigger than most everyone anticipated.

Last season, the Hawkeyes were one of the teams with the highest expectations once the NCAA Tournament hit as they came in red hot, winning nine of their last 10 games and winning the Big Ten Conference championship, taking down Purdue in the tournament final. However, they were upset by Richmond in the first round, losing 67-63 in a game where Keegan Murray and Patrick McCaffery combined for 39 of the teams 63 points.

Now with Murray, as well as six-year player and one of the shooters to play college basketball ever in Jordan Bohannan, gone, the Hawkeyes have a huge void to fill. On the bright side, they return a ton of production, including Kris Murray, Keegan’s younger brother. Whether it is fair or not, a lot of people are expecting Kris to take a similar jump that his older brother did.

Bohannon was a staple in the Hawkeye offense, and will be difficult to replace on and off the court. Patrick McCaffery, Connor McCaffery, Tony Perkins and Filip Rebraca will all be expected to step into larger roles.

X Factor

Kris Murray. I am going to take the low hanging fruit on this one. The younger Murray has all the intangibles and talent to be a star for the Hawkeyes this season and help take them to the next step.

Murray averaged 9.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season. When two brothers play with each other, it is inevitable that they will be compared.

“I always thought I shot the ball better than him,” Kris Murray said. “I’ve been working more off the dribble, shooting-wise and scoring at all three levels.”

Murray added “I’m more of a willing passer. I like to make my teammates happy, just make winning plays.” However, Fran McCaffery really does not want Murray to lead the team in assists.

“I would say points and rebounds. I don’t know about assists,” McCaffery said about Murray stats. “He prides himself in getting rid of it. But I’d rather him average 20 (points) a game than lead us in assists if we can arrange that.

“He’s got long arms. He’s really put together right now,” Fran McCaffery said. “You think about how he was as a skinny freshman, now he’s 223 (pounds), and he’s bouncy and he’s running the floor and in great shape. We need him to be one of the top five rebounders in the league.”

After losing Keegan Murray and his 8.7 rebounds per game, the Hawkeyes are expecting the younger Murray to step into that role. Coming into this season, Kris is ready to forge his own path in Iowa City away from his brother.

“I knew this day would come, where I wouldn’t be able to play with him anymore,” Kris Murray said. “I’ve found comfort in the guys that we have and being able to play off of them.

“I’m confident in my abilities and looking forward to the season and ultimately, being by myself, with a really good cast of guys who can shoot (and) score at a really high level,” Murray added.


Iowa has the potential to be very good, but as mentioned above, their success could very well be tied to how much of a jump Kris Murray takes. They are good enough to win some games and be an NCAA Tournament team no matter what, but if he becomes a star and an All-Big Ten type player, that could take the Hawkeyes to the next tier in the conference.

They will need their guards to step up as well, namely Tony Perkins. With the loss of Bohannon and Joe Toussaint, Perkins will need to be able to lay heavy minutes at the guard position. Murray, the McCaffery’s and Filip Rebraca are all guys who can hold down the minutes at forward.