Hawkmania football & basketball blog

Road rage

Iowa’s basketball team finished the season with 11 consecutive road losses, including the Hawkeyes’ first winless Big Ten season away from home since the 2001-02 season.

Michigan State and Northwestern were the final stops on Iowa’s all-for-nothing tour of the Big Ten, two of the more interesting venues around the league.

The Spartans’ Breslin Center turns 20 years old later this season and while sellout crowds regularly file into the palace on the Michigan State campus, there is one thing that few visitors get a chance to see. The cement-block wall outside of the visitor’s dressing room is home to one of the most impressive autograph collections anywhere.

Performers who have entertained at the Breslin Center over the years have all scrawled their signatures on the wall, where a plastic cover protects names of everyone from legends such as Bob Hope to members of the group Nine Inch Nails. Justin Timberlake’s signature is there, as is Dolly Parton’s hand-written autograph and Michael Jordan’s name. It’s an eclectic bunch that illustrates the variety of entertainment that has filled the venue.

Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena is a throwback. Although it was remodeled in the early 1980s, the 1950s gym on the lakeshore campus has a feel of its own and in size, it is not that different from the mammoth high school arenas at Rock Island and Moline in the Illinois Quad-Cities that seat in excess of 6,000 fans.

When Iowa visited Saturday, it was a little more retro than usual. The Hawkeyes and Wildcats played with the help of generators that were brought in to light the arena.

Throughout the past week, a malfunctioning power cable made electricity an on-again, off-again luxury at Welsh-Ryan. Large diesel generators were brought in to assure power during Saturday’s game but shortly after the game ended, the lights began to flicker and not only were a group of reporters left in the dark, so was the Northwestern women’s basketball team as it attempted to practice in preparation for Sunday’s game with Iowa.

The arena remained dark only momentarily and a limited amount of power was restored, allowing reporters to get their work done and the Wildcats to continue their workout.

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