Summertime AAU commitments prevented Matt Gatens from taking the court on a regular basis in Prime Time League games in recent years, but that changed this summer and Gatens made the most of it. Gatens was named the league's most valuable player on Wednesday night after leading his team to a 103-81 vicotry in the PTL title game over a team led by Hawkeye Cyrus Tate. It was an honor well deserved as Gatens displayed the versatility that makes him a natural fit for the system Iowa now employs. In additon to averaging 21 points per game in league play, he averaged 6.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Those numbers are illustrative of the type why Butler assistants told freshly-hired Iowa coach Todd Lickliter more than a year ago that he was one recruit that Lickliter would need to hang onto as he began his tenure in the Big Ten. Licklter watched that play out last winter as well as Gatens was part of an Iowa City High team that won Iowa's Class 4A state title, a team that shared the ball as well as any Iowa state champ in recent years. It's that type of ability, basketball IQ and willingness to play a team game that will make Gatens, a player who committed to Iowa as a high school freshman, a fan favorite in future years. Lickliter was asked during a news conference last season if he felt Gatens could push for plentiful playing time as a freshman and without hesitation, Lickliter responded, "Can he play for us this weekend?'' There's probably more than a little truth to those wishes. Teams become good teams when they put players with the court savvy Gatens has displayed in the middle of things. Gatens has worked this summer on improving his strength and ball handling, areas he believes he must take to the next level to prepare himself for the rigors of Big Ten play. Fully grasping that now will only help him in the future.
Archive for July, 2008
It was announced Friday that Iowa will face West Virginia in the third round of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational. The Hawkeyes and Mountaineers will meet in an 8 p.m. game on Friday, Nov. 28 at the Orleans Arena, prior to a game between Kentucky and Kansas State. Iowa will face either the SEC or Big 12 team the following day with a starting time of 6:30 or 9:30 p.m. based on Friday's results. ESPN2 will televise the tournament's championship game. West Virginia posted a 26-11 overall record a year ago, advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 before a 79-75 overtime loss to Xavier. Hawkeye junior college transfer Devan Bawinkel transferred from the Mountaineers program prior to the 2007-08 season, playing at Highland Community College in Freeport, Ill., before signing with Iowa last April. "West Virginia was played as well as anyone in the nation at the end of last season, as its run in the NCAA Tournament shows,'' Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said in a statement. "Our guys can gain a lot of valuable experience against high quality programs in this event.'' The Hawkeyes have played West Virginia just once before, winning a 79-76 on Dec. 29, 1956 in the third round of the Dixie Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C. Iowa will host two preliminary round games in the tourney, playing Oakland University on Sunday, Nov. 23 and Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday, Nov. 25.
Iowa's game against Boston College in this year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge will be televised by ESPNU, the network announced this week. The Hawkeyes' road game will tipoff at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 2, and it comes on the back end of a cross-country journey for Iowa, which plays the previous weekend in a tournament in Las Vegas that will also includes Kentucky, Kansas State and West Virginia. Here's a breakdown of this year's ACC/Big Ten match-ups, complete with starting times (CT) and TV information: December 1, Wisconsin at Virginia Tech, 6 p.m., ESPN2 December 2, Ohio State at Miami (Fla.), 6 p.m., ESPN; Iowa at Boston College, 6 p.m., ESPNU; Clemson at Illinois, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2; Duke at Purdue, 8 p.m., ESPN; Virginia at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2 December 3, Indiana at Wake Forest, 6:15 p.m., ESPN; Penn State at Georgia Tech, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2; Michigan at Maryland, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU; North Carolina vs. Michigan State at Ford Field, Detroit, 8:15 p.m., ESPN; Florida State at Northwestern, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2
In many ways, while watching games in the Prime Time League it is easy to see what Todd Lickliter and his staff are looking for as they recruit. Players willing to make the extra pass to secure a better offensive opportunity and players willing to play a little defense are more plentiful than in past years. Scores, in general, have been a bit lower, and play has been a little more below the rim than in previous summers when the league on occasion has had its share of high-wire acts on the court. Four of the seven newcomers who will suit up for Iowa next season found themselves on the court against each other last Wednesday, providing a good look at several key components of future Hawkeye teams. Aaron Fuller and Anthony Tucker arrived at Iowa after earning plenty of accolades at the high school level and neither disappointed. Both played well within a team framework and have a good understanding of the need to gain strength that will be needed to compete in the Big Ten. Devan Bawinkel and Andrew Brommer played for the other team. Brommer has gained needed "good'' weight from when I watched him play in a high school game in early February. He remains active both inside and out and continues to show good ability on the boards. Bawinkel hit a couple of money 3-pointers in last Wednesday's game, something Iowa will need from the juco transfer who started his career at West Virginia. Bawinkel, along with juco transfer Jermain Davis, will bring a little more experience to the floor than the Hawkeyes' four incoming freshmen. That could be important, especially during the early weeks of the season when the schedule will challenge Iowa with a road test at Boston College and potential match-ups against Kentucky, Kansas State and West Virginia in a Thanksgiving-time tournament in Las Vegas.