Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts
Jan. 9, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa Random thoughts on the day after a big win in Carver-Hawkeye Arena...
I used to scratch my head when I read something like I'm going to share below...not from the perspective of "Wow, what a great accomplishment!" - which this is, without a doubt. No, my reaction was often "Wow, who has the time to find this stuff?" Well, now that I've shared that, here's this, compliments of ESPN's Jerry Lundblad: "Jared Sullinger had another big-time performance (24 points, 12 rebounds) in Ohio State's 73-68 win at Iowa on Tuesday. But he wasn't the only freshman to shine. Melsahn Basabe, who originally committed to Siena, put up a career-high 22 points and added 13 rebounds and six blocks. That's the first 20-10-5 game by a freshman this season. Amazingly, it's the only 20-10-5 game by a Big Ten player -- regardless of class -- over the last 15 years."
Fran's squad squares off against Purdue today at 11 a.m. Heartland time. It will be the third straight game against a nationally ranked opponent for the good guys - one heck of a way to open the Big Ten season. Here's another way to look at that mountain: Iowa's first three conference games of 2011 have come against teams that had a combined record of 52-4 when the sun came up this morning.
Kudos to Lisa Bluder and her Hawkeyes on their big win over the Buckeyes yesterday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Kudos, too, to the 9,000-plus that witnessed the very well-played game between the Big Ten's top two women's basketball teams. It was entertaining from start to finish and even more so with the good guys on top on the scoreboard when final seconds clicked off the clock "I've never heard this arena so excited about a jump ball in all my life. They were excited about everything. They were excited about the popcorn, I think, being done on time. It was just really nice," Bluder said of the crowd, the largest for the Hawkeyes since the 2000-01 season.
This made my chuckle. It's Kachine's thoughts on being "bobblehaded" yesterday, compliments of Ryan Suchomel of the Iowa City Press-Citizen: "I didn't think too much of it," Alexander said. "But my friend came to visit me the other day, 'Oh my gosh, you have a bobblehead?' I was like, 'So?' She's like, 'How many people every get to have a bobblehead in their life?' I was, 'Ok, you're right, you're right.'"
Brands, Gable and a handful of UI and Iowa City and Coralville officials are heading to Colorado Springs next week to make the pitch for the UI's revitalized Carver-Hawkeye Arena to be the site of the 2012 USA Olympic Team Trials, an event staged by USA Wrestling that will determine who will wrestle for the United States in the Summer Olympic Games to be staged in London in late summer 2012. Seems to me this is a no-brainer...but it's never that simple.
Speaking of Brands, if you haven't read Thursday's HTD, I invite you to go backward and check it out. What I think you'll find most interesting - but certainly not surprising - is what impact the presence of the Iowa wrestling team has had on the Iowa women's gymnastics team. Tom's squad is a neighbor to Larissa Libby's squad this season in the UI Field House while the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex is renovated and expanded as part of the revitalization of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. "...they walk, they talk, they breathe championships," said Libby.
The Big Ten Conference says 78 former student-athletes will participate in the NFL's post-season. That number includes eight former Hawkeyes - the third highest total among league teams. Among that group is defensive lineman Colin Cole, who made a big stop for the Seattle yesterday when New Orleans - the defending Super Bowl champions - were attempting to make it interesting with a two-point conversion that would have trimmed the Seahawks' lead to three.
I sat courtside Tuesday night -- accompanied by an entertaining UI peer during the second half -- and I have to tell you there were times during the first half - when I enjoyed a very up-close-and-personal view of Iowa's offense - where all I saw was a big, tall, long and strong wall of scarlet. It was a stark reminder that what you see on television and what you see as close to the action as, say, row 10 of the Arena aint nothin' compared to what the five guys in black and gold on the parquet see. And, by the way, don't even get me started on how fast the game is played or how important upper body strength is.
Am I alone in the thinking that it's getting pretty hard to bet against the Hawkeyes in a post-season game? Kirk and the staff are 6-3 in bowl games and, it's pretty fair to say, that they could have won two of the three they didn't...the Outback Bowl against Florida and the Alamo Bowl against Texas. That, my friends, is heady stuff.
And, yes, if I didn't say it before, I'll say it now: That was a very good Missouri team on the field in Sun Devil Stadium. Some have also offered that the Tiger quarterback was the best the Hawkeyes' played this fall. I can't disagree with that.
My son and I talked about that Alamo Bowl game with Texas while in Arizona. In case you've forgotten, the Longhorn quarterback that day was a youngster by the name of Colt McCoy. He had a pretty good run in Austin that ended in the national championship game in Pasadena. And, as an ESPN announcer noted earlier this week, many believe that Alabama doesn't claim the crystal football if McCoy plays that game from start to finish. I can't disagree with that, either.
And, I'm obliged to remind you now, too, that the good guys recovered a perfectly and legally executed onside kick in the waning minutes of the Outback Bowl against the Gators. That's correct. I wrote, "...a perfectly and legally executed onside kick in the waning minutes of the Outback Bowl against the Gators." No guarantee that they score a game-winning touchdown, but I like our chances: O'Keefe's offense was running downhill by that time in the game, having scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Sometimes you get the feeling that an opposing coach says what they say because they feel like the kinda have to say something complimentary. Sometimes you get the feeling that they really mean it. I think it's the latter in the case of Purdue men's basketball coach Matt Painter, who was very complimentary of the "physical presence" of the Hawkeyes as reported by Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette earlier this week: "I think it's a team it's developing," Painter said. "They have some very good pieces, Matt Gatens, Eric May, the point guard just watching those games (Bryce) Cartwright has done a good job for them. Zach McCabe is a good basketball player. He's physical, he's tough he has a skill level. Obviously we all know how tough Jarryd Cole is, how physical he is. So they've got a physical basketball team. They're a very good rebounding basketball team and that's always a concern of ours. I think they bring a physical presence to the Big Ten, and they really get after you."
One additional thought about the Insight Bowl. I think you learn a little more about a head coach when you consider how he handles first and goal from inside his opponent's one yard line with next to nothing on the clock and the scoreboard in his favor. Some elect to jam it home and widen the margin of victory. Others consider the game all but in the books as a victory, weigh the risk of the worst case scenario, take a knee and head to midfield for the obligatory hand shake with the opposing coach...a ritual made a little more comfortable having not just rubbed his nose in the dirt of the end zone with a touchdown that is only meaningful to those with money on the line in Vegas or - in my opinion - coaches who are feeling a little insecure.