The games may typically be lopsided and the host team may have won the thing 24 times in its 26-year history, but count Iowa basketball coach Todd Lickliter among those who are disappointed to see the Hawkeye Challenge come to an end. "I'm kind of an old-school guy,'' Lickliter said prior to an appearance at the Quad-Cities and North Scott I-Club banquet last week. "I can't tell you how many coaches have come up and told me that they've brought teams to our tournament in the past and how much they thought of the experience.'' The early December tourney won't be back, however, a victim of changing times and changing methods of scheduling nonconference games. Attracting attractive opponents has been difficult in recent years and with additional opportunities to attend exempt tournaments on neutral courts on an almost annual basis, filling the field had become an issue. The timing -- typically one week after playing multiple games in an exempt tourney and at the end of the week when the ACC-Big Ten Challenge is traditionally played -- hasn't been good in recent years, either. "In some ways, I'll be sad to see it go, but this was one of the last. Everybody used to have one,'' Lickliter said.
Archive for June, 2008
Congratulations to Todd Lickliter. The Iowa basketball coach crossed the finish line of his first two-year tour on the I-Club circuit on Wednesday night when the Quad-Cities and North Scott I-Club's co-hosted their annual banquet at the Davenport Country Club. The series of events that send coaches from one corner of the state to the other and beyond is uniquely Iowa. Few universities send their coaches out to as many venues as Iowa does each spring, providing fans and financial supporters with a chance to get close to coaches whose programs they support. It's not something that should be taken for granted on either side of the equation. Wednesday's outing was the 10th Lickliter has appeared at this year, a number similar to the number that football coach Kirk Ferentz has attended. The pair rotate through the circuit every two years, joined by other head coaches and assistant coaches who mix and mingle with fans. Lickliter said his first experience has given him a chance to get to know the state and the people who support his program. He has appreciated the kindness he has found at every stop along the way. The financial support provided by fans who attend the I-Club events is the lifeblood of the athletics program at Iowa, which is based in the smallest-population state in the Big Ten region and maintains a self-supporting program. Those dollars help the Hawkeyes compete.