By JOHN BOHNENKAMP
Ahron Ulis will be back with Iowa when the Hawkeyes open the season on Monday against Bethune-Cookman.
Ulis, who came into the season battling for the starting point guard spot, was suspended for last Monday’s exhibition game against Truman State.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said on Thursday that Ulis will be available for the opener.
“He’s been playing really well,” McCaffery said. “So I would expect him to play like a veteran, really good at both ends of the floor. Obviously he’s been very good in our system with his speed and athleticism. So I’m excited for him.”
Ulis, a junior, played in 35 of Iowa’s 36 games last season. He scored in double figures twice.
LEARNING ABOUT THE OPPONENT: Bethune-Cookman, coached by former NBA player Reggie Theus, has a blend of returning players and newcomers.
And with any opener, it’s hard to get a good grasp of a team in a scouting report, especially with the NCAA’s transfer portal.
“This team’s a little bit unique in that they have a lot of guys back, but they also signed a good number of guys — they have like eight new players, something like that,” McCaffery said. “Teams are adding personnel and you have a greater ability, I think, to look at what you have and then add to what you think you need, because there’s such a huge available pool of players out there. And I think that’s what Reggie did. I mean, he’s added some pieces to what was going to be a veteran team. So I think it’s a team that’s going to be really good and I think it’s going to challenge us.”
Bethune-Cookman, which went 16-14 last season, returns leading scorers Joe French (15.8 ppg), Kevin Davis (14 ppg) and Marcus Garrett (13.6 ppg).
EVALUATING THE EXHIBITION: Iowa defeated Truman State 118-72 on Monday night, and McCaffery said there was a lot to take away from the game.
“There were some defensive breakdowns, and there were times we were really good defensively,” McCaffery said. “But I don’t think we were as consistent as we could have been.”
McCaffery said Truman State, coached by former Hawkeye Jeff Horner, provided a good test.
“Jeff runs really good stuff,” McCaffery said. “And that’s why that was a really good game for us. That’s why I wanted to play them as opposed to maybe some other teams that wouldn’t be as disciplined or, I think, as concentrated on execution against us. I mean, they were really trying to run their stuff.
Sometimes we really did a good job, and there’s times when we didn’t, so that’s why you play that game. And you know, the competition gets harder and harder as you move forward.”
Photo: Iowa guard Ahron Ulis, who was suspended for the Hawkeyes’ exhibition game last Monday, will be available for Monday’s season opener against Bethune-Cookman. (Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)