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Archive for July, 2009

It’s a wrap

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Prime Time League play wrapped up Monday night with just one Hawkeye on the court -- Matt Gatens. That may be a first for a championship game in the summertime league that has been organized by Iowa City attorney, restauranteur and gym rat Randy Larson for the past 23 years. A sprained ankle kept Andrew Brommer off the court as his team defeated the Gatens-led team 104-88 in a competitive final that was tied at 81-81 with just over seven minutes remaining. The Northern Iowa tandem of Adam Koch and Ali Farokhmanesh and former Cedar Rapids Kennedy prep Kaylon Williams -- who is headed to Kirkwood CC next fall after spending his freshman season at Evansville -- were too much on a night when Gatens struggled with his shot, going 2-for-11 from the field. Williams had plenty to do with that. He locked down on Gatens throughough much of the game and continued to illustrate why he will be able to compete once he returns to Division I hoops in a year. It wasn't a one-night occurance from a player who was named as the PTL's defensive player of the year. "He really showed throughout the summer why he is going to be an impact player with whoever he signs with,'' Larson said. UNI players illustrated in league play why the Panthers will be an easy choice as the preseason picks to repeat the Missouri Valley Conference title they won last season. The Panthers' backcourt players as well as big man Jordan Eglseder dominated the PTL as much as any group of UNI players has in the league's history. Larson liked what he saw from the Hawkeyes in the league as well. He believes Iowa fans will see a team with more skill, more strength and more depth once the 2009-10 season begins. "The Iowa guys are better than people give them credit for,'' Larson said. "I was impressed with the newcomers and the improvement from last summer to this was notable among the players who are returning.'' Northern Iowa players led the league in most statistical areas, but Hawkeyes held down the top three spots in the league in assists. Incoming freshman Cully Payne set the standard with an average of 8.0 per game, followed by Gatens at 7.6 and Anthony Tucker at 7.1. Former UNI player Matt Schneiderman led the league in scoring, averaging 26.6 points per game while Iowa's Jarryd Cole finished second at 23.9. Cole led the league in 3-point percentage, while UNI's Eglseder edged Iowa's Aaron Fuller for the league's rebounding lead with 12.4 per game. Koch, Eglseder and Iowa's Anthony Tucker, who enjoyed a consistent return to the court this summer after missing the second semester of his freshman season for academic issues, shared league MVP honors. Here's a breakdown of Hawkeye averages in PTL play: Player, Points per game, Rebounds per game, Assists per game, FG%, 3FG%, FT% Matt Gatens, 21.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 7.6 apg, 55%, 41%, 89% Jarryd Cole, 23.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.9 apg, 61%, 67%, 58% Anthony Tucker, 22.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 7.1 apg, 60%, 52%, 70% Aaron Fuller, 20.3 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 61%, 30%, 67% Devan Bawinkel, 7.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 40%, 38%, 50% Andrew Brommer, 12.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.0 apg, 51%, 50%, 74% Eric May, 23.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.6 apg, 59%, 48%, 77% Cully Payne, 16.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 8.0 apg, 50%, 50%, 76% Brennan Cougill, 17.0 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.1 apg, 58%, 35%, 56% Devon Archie, 7.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 52%, 0%, 43% John Lickliter, 0.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 8%, 8%, 0%

One and done

Friday, July 24th, 2009
The Big Ten announced single plays for the league basketball schedule for the next two seasons on Friday, the first shift since the conference returned to an 18-game league schedule for the 2007-08 season. Iowa will play Penn State and Wisconsin just once in each of the next two seasons, hosting the Nittany Lions and visiting the Badgers during the 2009-10 season in addition to playing each of the other eight teams twice. In 2010-11, Iowa will then visit Penn State and host Wisconsin. For the Hawkeyes, the upcoming single plays include a home game with an opponent it has dominated at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in recent years and a road test at a place where Iowa has annually struggled. Iowa has won its last seven games against Penn State at home, last losing in 2001, and has not won at Wisconsin since 2000. The Hawkeyes have lost in each of their last eight visits to the Kohl Center. The Hawkeyes played Minnesota and Illinois just once in each of the past two seasons. Here's a conference-wide breakdown of the single plays for the 2009-10 season: Illinois -- Minnesota, at Michigan Indiana -- Michigan State, at Penn State Iowa -- Penn State, at Wisconsin Michigan -- Illinois, at Purdue Michigan State -- Ohio State, at Indiana Minnesota -- Wisconsin, at Illinois Northwestern -- Purdue, at Ohio State Ohio State -- Northwestern, at Michigan State Penn State -- Indiana, at Iowa Purdue -- Michigan, at Northwestern Wisconsin -- Iowa, at Minnesota Complete league schedules are expected to be released in August.

Target practice

Sunday, July 19th, 2009
Zach McCabe's announcement Friday to join the Iowa basketball program's recruiting class fills more than the Hawkeyes' currently available allotment of scholarships for the 2010 recruiting class. It also fills a need. The 6-foot-6 forward from Sioux City Heelan adds another versatile and somewhat physical player to the Hawkeye roster. McCabe is known as a solid rebounder for his size, complementing his shooting skills. His abilities complement what Iowa already has in this class in the size of 6-9 Cody Larson of Sioux Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt and the shooting abilities of 6-2 Ben Brust of Mundelein, Ill., and 6-5 Roy Marble Jr., of Southfield, Mich. McCabe was offered a scholarship in March, shortly after Marshalltown's Chanse Creekmur opted to de-commit. Iowa had topped his wish list for some time, but McCabe chose to test the waters this summer and he added to a collection of offers that included Arizona State, Virginia, Utah and Minnesota before he finally decided to commit to the one program he hoped to play for all along. I spoke to a gentleman on the phone one day last week before squeezing in a few vacation days and he wondered about the quality of the players coach Todd Lickliter and his staff were recruiting. He was wondering where the four- and five-star kids were and why so few consider the Hawkeyes. That's nothing new. Iowa has rarely been a destination point for the handful of elite players available. McCabe, as is the case with the Hawkeyes' other three verbal commitments, is a solid fit for the system that Iowa runs and that is as important as anything. The fact that he attracted offers from Arizona State and Virginia, where Tony Bennett now coaches, speaks to the team-oriented game and versatility that McCabe offers. What should be even more heartening to Hawkeye fans is that the four players who have commited to Iowa were targeted early, recruited well and are sold on the belief that the system the Hawkeyes' run can be successful and that their game fits that system. The fact that Iowa coaches are now beginning to land their initial targets is a step forward, progress that must take place before translating into results on the court.

On the trail

Sunday, July 12th, 2009
Like their counterparts from around the country, Iowa coaches are on the recruiting trail these days as the NCAA evaluation period continues. Hawkeye coaches were in attendance at AAU events last week in suburban Chicago and in Kentucky and it is likely that will continue this week in Milwaukee, where a number of midwestern AAU teams will be competing. The recruitment of Rock Island's Chasson Randle brought Big Ten and Big 12 coaches to the Rock Island Fieldhouse on Friday and Saturday. Illinois head coach Bruce Weber spent the day there Saturday, while Wisconsin assistant Gary Close and Purdue assistant Jack Owens attended both days. Illini assistant Jay Price was in the house Friday and Iowa State assistant Daniyal Robinson returned to his prep alma mater on Saturday.

Back at it

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
Matt Gatens' summer break is over. After two weeks off following the removal of his appendix, Gatens returned to action in the Prime Time League on Monday and didn't waste any time letting the world know it. Gatens scored 32 points to lead all scorers in Monday's three PTL games, an effort that included a 6-of-9 touch from 3-point range as part of an 11-of-17 effort from the field. The competition was the first for Gatens since a trip to the emergency room in the early-morning hours of June 21. He did see some limited work in pick-up games with teammates in the days leading up to his PTL return, but showed no signs of the layoff on Monday. Gatens' team won a 100-81 decision against a team led by Hawkeye Jarryd Cole, who finished with 25 points. The league's other games on Monday were decided by nine and two points, indicative of the higher level of competition that exists within the PTL this season. League founder and director Randy Larson cut the number of teams from eight to six this season with an objective of creating a more competitive environment in the summer league. Iowa coach Todd Lickliter had sought that environment for his players, believing that greater benefits could be gained through more competitive situations during the summer and to date, the PTL has delivered.

Guarded optimism

Friday, July 3rd, 2009
July is off to a quick start for the Iowa basketball program. Verbal commitments from Ben Brust and Roy Marble Jr. have added two guards to a 2010 recruiting class that already includes a solid forward prospect in Cody Larson. Collectively, they fit and that may be the most important thing as coach Todd Lickliter and his staff go about building a program, not just a team. Brust and Marble add shooters to a collection of talent that will nearly return intact over the next two seasons. Devan Bawinkel will be the only senior on the Hawkeyes' 2009-10 roster and if there is going to be growth within the Iowa program, it will likely occur over the next two years. Both are quality individuals and are regarded as solid shooters. Marble, the son of Iowa's career scoring leader Roy Marble, understands that he has work to do in order to be an effective player at the next level. In a conversation following his visit to a Prime Time League game last month, Marble talked about the need to gain strength and improve his commitment on the defensive end of floor. Both are critical aspects, not only for Marble but for each of the three players who have announced they will sign binding letters of intent with Iowa in November. Understanding those needs is an important first step toward embracing them. This week's commitments leave Iowa with one available scholarship for the 2010 recruiting class and Lickliter has an offer on the table for Sioux City Heelan forward Zach McCabe. The 6-foot-6 McCabe averaged just under 16 points and 9 rebounds per game last season. He would be a solid complement to the recruits who have already verbaled.