Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts
Jan. 17, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Random thoughts on a Monday in the Heartland...
I'll talk a little later about Fran's Hawkeyes and their big win over Michigan Saturday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. But, first, I'd like to give a tip of the fedora to UM coach John Beilein. Too often, in my opinion, the losing coach fails to give credit to the winning team's effort being the "cause" in the "cause-and-effect" discussion. "Great win for Iowa," Michigan's head coach offered flatly after Iowa's 75-59 victory over his No. 13 Wolverines. "We did not play one of our better games and Iowa was the reason for that." I concur. The Wolverines didn't play a great game...and the effort by Fran's squad had a lot to do with that.
The heating power of the winter sun? It still has some oomph even on 30-degree days and particularly when it's beating down on you for three or so hours through the car window.
The cooling power of snow on the ground? It's pretty strong. I spent Saturday at the University of Nebraska. Lincoln has nary a hint of snow on the ground...and Saturday's daytime temp soared into the high 40s and it was expected to touch 50 yesterday. Meanwhile, the temperature dropped steadily as we made our way back to Iowa City Sunday morning where the four so inches that fell on Thursday were melting under our first January thaw.
The impact of a four-year starter on your basketball team? Look no further than the Iowa Hawkeyes and senior Matt Gatens. Four absolutely huge three's Saturday afternoon, the last coming after 180-percent hustle play by Zach McCabe. Matt's line included a perfect 5-for-5 from the line, 3 steals, 3 rebounds, an assist , and a team-high 19 points. "He made big shots late when we needed them, free throws late when we needed them....just an incredibly complete game with phenomenal effort of focus and concentration," McCaffery said before going on in detail on Matt's successes defensively on Michigan's explosive guards.
Here's my take on Iowa and Michigan: Hmmm...18 assists on 25 field goals and a 39-30 edge on the boards paired with few well-earned floor burns... I'm no basketball genius - I've talked often about how I get lost in the X's and O's of the game of basketball - but, like many, I know when I see a basketball team playing the game right way and the Hawkeyes were on Saturday. They also played with more than a fair amount of "want to" and confidence, too, and both appeared to grow as the numbers on the clock got smaller and that, too, is really good stuff. You can read more HERE. And, you can watch some video of the win HERE where you'll also see some "Premium" content available to subscribers to Hawkeye All-Access.
Here's another take on Iowa and Michigan: We watched the game in a restaurant in Lincoln and there was consensus: The HD picture was ridiculously good. Kudos - again - to the Big Ten Network for doing it right on their end because if it's not done right there, it doesn't much matter what investment you make in the television.
So, with one-third of its 2012 league season in the books, Fran's team stands an even 3 wins, 3 losses against its Big Ten peers. I'm not so sure too many fans of the Hawkeyes saw that coming in early December. If you're curious, Iowa's 12th game of the Big Ten season is Feb. 9 at Northwestern. Let's see where the numbers stand on Feb. 10 when two-thirds of the league season is history. Until then, let's live by Coaches Commandment No. 1: One game at a time.
I'll let ESPN's Myron Medcalf do the talking in the paragraph. From his college basketball blog entry, "What we learned from Saturday's games": I can't figure out Iowa or the Big Ten right now. The Hawkeyes knocked off their second nationally ranked opponent in two weeks. And in a Big Ten that's as hard to peg as any league in the country right now, the Hawkeyes look like a factor. I didn't say contender. But the Hawkeyes prove the Big Ten doesn't offer any easy victories. No pushovers in this conference. You can read the full entry HERE.
Medcalf is right about the Big Ten. Crazy stuff, particularly the number of wins by "Road Warriors" like Iowa's at Wisconsin and Minnesota and, more recently, Wisconsin's and Minnesota at Purdue and Indiana, respectively. Should be a very interesting and entertaining February and March...
Anyone else out there have a case of the "Snowblower Blues"? Mine started the night before the first storm of this so-called winter...but not the morning after. Of course, I've been reminded that that piece of equipment is today more than 20 years old. So, now, the question is whether I ride out the next five or so weeks hoping Mother Nature cooperates and doles out one or two tough mornings or do I take the plunge and make the investment now in anticipation of a wet February?
Not many women's basketball teams visit Mackey Arena and come away with a victory and that's why it was tough to see the gutsy effort by Bluder's Bunch yesterday afternoon go unrewarded. Lisa's squad overcame an 11-point first-half deficit to grab a lead against the nationally ranked Boilermaker women, but couldn't finish and finished on the short end of a 57-55 score. Defense is what kept the Hawkeyes in this one - they limited the home team to 30 percent shooting. I'm sure Lisa told the team afterward that they'll get more than their share of W's if they continue to play with that type of commitment on the defensive end of the floor.
And the beat goes on. A week ago yesterday fans of Iowa wrestling were lamenting a tie that wasn't. It should come as no surprise that Tom Brands' squad simply got back to work with a pair of dominating performances this weekend. Click HERE for a look at yesterday's win over Northwestern. And, click HERE for some free video of the victory.