Hawk Talk Daily: Of Fran, Lisa and Football
Oct. 14, 2010
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Random thoughts on another brilliant Friday in the Heartland and the day before a pretty big game in the Big House...
I think Hawk fans are going to like Fran McCaffery a lot. I watched about 15 minutes of team practice the other day while on my way out of the Arena and it was interesting to watch the intensity he brought to the court. I also really enjoyed how engaged the rest of the coaching staff was. No wall flowers in that group. Of course, I don't profess to know one iota of how this all works, the X's and O's of that game get lost on me pretty quickly. However, I do know what the good stuff looks like - I chalk that up to watching C. Vivian Stringer's practices on a pretty regular basis almost 20 years ago now - and this stuff sure looks like a winner in the making.
I also like Fran's straightforwardness. It was on full display yesterday in the Big Ten Room of Carver-Hawkeye Arena when he met the media in the annual unofficial/official kickoff to the season. "We need them to play well right away. They don't have time to be freshmen that are making mistakes," he offered without hesitation when asked about his freshmen. "They have to play like veterans essentially immediately, and that's why I really like what I've seen so far in particular from Basabe, McCabe and Marble. We really need those three guys to understand that they're going to get a lot of minutes, so it's probably going to be at least one of them in the starting lineup, and then after that your other ones kind of have to consider themselves almost as starters." Good stuff, Hawk fans.
Lisa Bluder, on the other hand, enters the 2010-11 season at the other end of the spectrum: Experience, proven leadership, "money in the bank" (Kachine Alexander), talent, and a whole bunch of expectation - that she's willing to grab and run with. "Last year we were able to sneak up on a couple of people with everybody assuming that we lost most of our lineup to graduation. This year I don't think we'll be sneaking up on anybody. I think we'll have a target on our back this year, and we've tried to prepare our team for that," she said during her opening remarks earlier this week in the same seat Fran occupied yesterday.
My question of Hawk fans: Are you ready to help these programs have success? If so, get your season tickets and help make it happen. Can't afford a season ticket? Then go ahead and cherry-pick a game or two or four - may I suggest the two games against our friends from Iowa State in early December, for starters? - but get to Carver and be the difference-makers.
From the great minds think alike department: Folks who read these ramblings regularly may recall last winter how much I liked Eric May. When I heard Fran mention in his introductory press conference last spring a desire to go up and down the court, I thought of Eric May and what he could possibly be in that type of environment. I not the smartest guy on the block, but it's pretty easy to see Eric has both "hops" and wheels. "When I watched film from last year, I think the one guy that was most hampered by the slower style was Eric May," Fran offered yesterday. "You could see that he wanted to go sometimes and they were pulling it back, and that's how Todd (Lickliter) felt like they had to play, and I respect that. But I think Eric is really one that will benefit from the different style."
Hey, there's a meaningful - they all are this time of year - college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday afternoon. Game time is 2:30 p.m. Iowa time and its available on ABC...and, where it's not on ABC, it's on your ESPN HD (High Definition) channel...and if it's not there, don't panic. Check your ESPN standard definition channel. I'd like to see A-Rob carry the ball about 35 times - 20 in the second half alone - because that would likely mean the good guys are comfortably ahead on the scoreboard.
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My son and I wrapped up our summer golf challenge with a quick nine last weekend. It's not necessary for me to tell you who won the trophy, -- OK...I didn't - but I do think I'll share the opinion that it would be wise for golfers in eastern Iowa to try to squeeze out one or two more rounds at Finkbine before the snow flies. The greens were fantastic and were second only to the colors.
Random Thoughts is written by Rick Klatt, the UI Athletics Department's associate athletics director for external affairs, and is an exclusive feature of Hawk Talk Daily, the daily e-newsletter of the UI Athletics Department.