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Archive for August, 2009

Pierce returns to France

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
Former Hawkeye Pierre Pierce will return to France to continue his professional basketball career. Pierce, a third-team all-Big Ten selection in 2004, whose off-court issues led to his dismissal from the team, has signed a one-year contract extension with Hyenes-Toulon, the same French team he played 30 games with last season. The 6-foot-4 guard from Westmont, Ill., averaged 12 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season for a team that now includes former Michigan player Daniel Horton.

Iowa, ISU set

Monday, August 24th, 2009
The date, starting time and television plans for this year's Iowa-Iowa State basketball game were announced today when the Cyclones unveiled their schedule for the 2009-10 season. The Hawkeyes will face their instate rival on Friday, Dec. 11 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game is one of six that will be televised by the Cyclone Television Network. The game is part of an Iowa nonconference schedule that is beginning to fall into place. A previous home game on Dec. 1 with Virginia Tech in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and games with Texas on Nov. 22 and either Pittsburgh or Wichita State on Nov. 23 as part of the CBE Classic were announced earlier. The remainder of the schedule is to be announced in upcoming days.

Cheap seats?

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009
When Iowa officials talked about understanding that something needed to be done to prop up attendance at Iowa basketball games, they may have been talking a different language than most people were thinking. They talked about how they understood that declining basketball attendance has been a long-term issue -- a fact -- and how they planned to aggressively attack it during the offseason. The solution? A $2 reduction in the cost of tickets to a Big Ten game and a $10 reduction in tickets to most nonconference games. Tickets to the Drake and Virginia Tech games will not be reduced beyond the $20 that Iowa will charge for weeknight Big Ten games during the upcoming season. Tickets for weekend Big Ten games will be priced at $25 while all other nonconference home games will be priced at $12. That's like putting a band-aid over a surgical cut. Are people more likely to spend $100 on tickets for a family of four to attend a game than they were to spend $108 for four people to watch one game a year ago? Doubtful. And given that parking and concessions prices are unlikely to go down, Iowa basketball remains an over-priced ticket. The price placed on tickets to nonconference games is fair, but why not include all nonconference games at that $12 price? Is a game with Drake or a late-starting game against Virginia Tech worth the extra $8? I have no qualm with a ticket in the $18-20 price range for Big Ten play, but $25 instead of $27 for weekend games isn't much of a deal at all. Iowa officials understandably dealt with some irate season ticket holders a year ago when they trimmed tickets to the final home games of the season to $10 after the Hawkeyes played much of the first two-thirds of the season in an arena that was filled less than two-thirds of capacity. However, when people buy a season ticket, they must remember they are paying for the right to enjoy the same seat for every game as much as they are paying for admission to the venue. Given that the university is currently raising funds to finance a needed practice facility, officials are sensitive to the outcries of long-time supporters. However, fans did respond to the late-season ticket discounts and Iowa averaged more than 3,300 more fans per game following the change. That should have provided Iowa officials with some guidance as to what value the public places on Hawkeye tickets given the current the state of both program and the economy. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Big man, big honor

Saturday, August 15th, 2009
Incoming Iowa freshman Brennan Cougill collected one final high school honor before packing his bags for the start of the fall semester in Iowa City in nine days. The Sioux City Journal has selected Cougill as its 2009 metro male athlete of the year, a well-deserved honor for an athlete who shattered city career records in scoring and rebounding and became just the 11th Iowa prep to top both 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds. In addition to his basketball skills, where he led Sioux City Heelan to an Iowa state championship, Cougill also helped the Crusaders finish third in the 3A state track meet with a fourth-place finish in the shot put. Iowa fans got a taste of Cougill's abilities and his work ethic this summer when he played in the Prime Time League. There, he displayed his shooting touch and the passing skills that make him a highly-regarded 6-foot-9 post player. But one of his primary objectives this summer was to gain strength and cut weight. He accomplished both and now weighs in at around 260 pounds, dropping more than 10 pounds in the two months he worked out in Iowa City this summer.  The work continues, but the change in his body is noticable and should assist him from an endurance standpoint once the physical battles of Big Ten basketball begin in late December. In an article announcing the award, the Journal's Terry Hersom quotes Heelan coach Tom Betz as saying, "I think they're going to have a hard time keeping him off the court. In fact, I think as a freshman he'll be in the lineup. As thin as they are right now, I don't see how they could play without him.'' There is no question that Cougill will be part of the equation for the Hawkeyes during the 2009-10 season, one year before two additional Siouxland players join the Iowa program. Heelan's Zach McCabe and big man Cody Larson of Sioux Falls, S.D., have announced intentions to sign with the Hawkeyes in November. Both will provide Iowa with additional strength in future seasons. Iowa continues to look even further into the future as well. The Hawkeyes have offered a scholarship to a player who is just beginning his freshman year of school. Quinten Payne, the younger and already taller brother of incoming freshman Cully Payne was offered a scholarship by coach Todd Lickliter following a strong performance earlier this month at the Iowa Elite Camp. Quinten Payne will play his high school basketball in Florida following a family move to the Fort Myers area in early June. He's already 6-2.

Elite company

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
Weather isn't expected to be an issue this week when the Hawkeye basketball program hosts the Iowa Elite Camp. The camp was canceled last summer because of flooding in the Iowa City area. That won't be a problem when the invitation-only camp begins Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The two-day camp includes three sessions and the players on the invitation list who will be on hand include all four of the players who have made verbal commitments to sign with the Hawkeyes during the November signing period -- 6-9 Cody Larson of Sioux Falls, S.D., 6-2 Ben Ben Brust of Mundelein, Ill., 6-5 Roy Marble Jr. of Southfield, Mich., and 6-6 Zach McCabe of Sioux City, Iowa. The accurately-named elite camps give college coaches a chance to work with some of the nation's top prep prospects on campus prior long before they sign binding letters of intent. Cully Payne, who signed with Iowa this spring, was scheduled to participate in Iowa's 2008 elite camp that was canceled. He never made it to Iowa City before making a commitment to Alabama later last summer. He eventually signed with the Crimson Tide, but re-opened his recruitment following a coaching change there. "If I had been out here for the camp last summer, I probably would have ended my recruiting then and there. I found everything I liked when I came out here (in early April), but with the flood and my summer schedule after that time, I never made it back out before I commited,'' Payne said.