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Archive for February, 2010

Beyond the boxscore

Sunday, February 28th, 2010
Everything doesn't show up in the boxscore. Andrew Brommer had one of those performances for the Iowa basketball team Sunday in its 73-57 win over Indiana, a game where the Hawkeye bench didn't provide points but it certainly provided attitude. The Hawkeye sophomore didn't score and fouled out in 10 minutes of action off of the bench, but he had a hand in helping Iowa secure a .500 finish for the season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Brommer grabbed two rebounds, dove to save a ball as it was going out of bounds and had an important block in the first half and the effort didn't go unnoticed. "Those hustle plays Brommer made were huge,'' Iowa sophomore Matt Gatens said. "Those are things that help decide games. Brommer had a huge block, saved a ball and (Aaron) Fuller came up big on the offensive boards a couple of times. Those all matter.'' Iowa coach Todd Lickliter praised what he saw from both the reserve big men who played off the bench, Brommer and Brennan Cougill. "Andrew Brommer gave us a huge lift,'' Lickliter said. "He was very active. Brennan Cougill went in and got a big rebound. He had a couple of great looks, but you're not going to make all of the shots. We've kind of been spoilte by Brennan and think he's going to make them all. He's another guy that will make the next one all the time and I believe he will, too.''  Iowa's bench totaled one point in the win -- a free throw by Devan Bawinkel after he was fouled during a rare second-half drive to the basket. That, too, illustrated the type of aggression that allowed Iowa to earn its fourth Big Ten win of the season. Indiana coach Tom Crean appreciated that as much as anything from what he saw from both teams. "For two teams that are near the bottom of the Big Ten standings, that was a very hard-fought game,'' Crean said. "Iowa is a very physical, aggressive and cerebral team. I'm very impressed with how they continue to improve and get better. They're a lot like us in the fact that they're fighting without a lot of great results.''

One last shot

Saturday, February 27th, 2010
Devan Bawinkel, the only senior on the Iowa men's basketball team will be honored prior to Sunday's home game with Indiana. The West Virginia transfer will be remembered for his long-distance dedication. He ranks ninth in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage, shooting .391 on the season and is fifth in the league in 3-point shooting in conference play, knocking shots down at a 43.2-percent touch. In two seasons on the court for the Hawkeyes, Bawinkel has attempted 225 shots. Of those, 220 have come from behind the 3-point arc. That includes all 81 shots he has attempted this season. Of the 84 shots he has made for Iowa, 83 have have been from 3-point range. Bawinkel still contends he was behind the line on the one basket that was ruled a 2-point shot.  "I know what my role is and that's pretty much what I do,'' Bawinkel said. The 6-foot-5 senior from Winnebago, Ill., can dunk and says he can knock down shorter jumpers as well. He passed up a chance to go to the rim a couple of weeks ago, feeding the ball to a teammate down low instead. Bawinkel said he doesn't have any built-up desire to take the ball to the rim. "Never say never. It might happen someitme, but mostly I want to do what is best for the team and if that means me going to the hoop, I'll do that. If somebody else is closer and has a better shot, I'll dish it off to him.'' Bawinkel began his collegiate career playing for current Michigan coach John Beilein at West Virginia. Beilein calls Bawinkel one of the toughest players he has seen, in part because Bawinkel saw considerable time for the Mountaineers as a freshman while playing with a broken hand. "When coach Beilein left and coach (Bob) Huggins came in, I knew that my chance to compete wasn't going to be the same,'' Bawinkel said. "I found a good opportunity. To play in the Big Ten, to play at Carver-Hawkeye and to play against top-level competition, I'm going to leave here with a lot of good memories.''

Riding the pine

Friday, February 26th, 2010
One of the four players who has signed with the Hawkeyes as part of the 2010 recruiting class is currently riding the pine. Cody Larson has worked beyond an ankle injury that sidelined him earlier in his senior season at Sioux Falls Roosevelt HS in South Dakota, but the 6-foot-8 senior is now riding the pine for another reason. Citing privacy rules, details are sketchy but Larson did sit out a game Tuesday and his status for the remainder of the regular season and the postseason, which begins next week, is unannounced. Mark Meile, the activities director for the Sioux Falls school district, did tell the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader that the district had taken some action at Roosevelt. "I can confirm that we had some disciplinary action taken at Roosevelt involving activities rules,'' Meile told the publication. That's as far as he would go. Larson currently averages 18 points and 7 rebounds for the Roughriders.

Surveying the landscape

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
With Iowa in the midst of an eight-day layoff from Big Ten competition, Hawkeye assistant coaches continue to evaluate what to do with the scholarship that became available when Anthony Tucker left the team earlier this month. Assistant coach Chad Walthall, speaking on the Big Ten teleconference this morning, said the Hawkeyes are keeping their options open. "We continue to evaluate and go to different games and talk to different people and see where we are at,'' Walthall said. "There are a couple of players out there worth continuing to monitor. If they can help us right away, we may go in that direction. If not, we may bank it have two available for the next class.'' Iowa currently has just one available scholarship for its 2011 recruiting class, with Jarryd Cole the only junior on the current roster who will exhaust his eligibility following the 2010-11 season. Juco transfer Devon Archie is also a junior, but the injury that forced him into a redshirt situation this year will lead to him completing his eligibility in 2012. Iowa assistants have spent some time on the road lately, looking at both junior college and prep prospects. Juco guards Kaylon Williams of Kirkwood and Kurt Alexander of Iowa Central are among those Iowa coaches has seen recently, as is Scott County Central (Mo.) high school prospect Bobby Hatchett. Walthall said Lickliter has not narrowed the focus of Iowa's search. "We may go for a combo guard or a big. If we find that right guy, we may use it. If not, we won't,'' Walthall said. "It has to be the right fit. We have four guys coming in next year that we are excited about.''

Foul odor

Saturday, February 20th, 2010
Comments made by Michigan's DeShawn Sims following Tuesday's win at Iowa have raised an eyebrow or two. In an interview from the Carver-Hawkeye Arena locker room -- the formerly pink visitor's locker room that was repainted white a couple of years ago -- Sims says about his game-tying 3-point basket at the end of regulation, "I wanted the foul. The ref told me if the shot did not go in it would have been a foul. I put everything I had in that shot.'' Isn't a foul a foul and shouldn't it make no difference if the shot drops or not as to if a whistle blows? Sims words can be found on YouTube.

A needed break

Thursday, February 18th, 2010
After playing four games in 10 days, Iowa's basketball team is getting a much-needed break this week. "We're going to take a couple of days during the week so our guys can just be college students,'' Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said. "We'll give them a chance to catch-up on their course work and rest a bit. Both of those are important.'' Iowa will continue to workout as well. A busy week of activities at Carver-Hawkeye Arena -- the Iowa women are at home today and Iowa's wrestlers are home Friday -- will impact just when the Hawkeyes have days off during the eight-day break in the Big Ten schedule. "We may do some individual work. That's something I like to do to change the routine a bit. We're limited in how we can do that because we are assigned a block of time on the court. If we had a practice facility, we could bring guys in in small groups and at different times built around their class schedule,'' Lickliter said. "We'll make do with what we have.'' Lickliter will also spend some time on the road this week, watching Devyn Marble and Cody Larson play in person. The Iowa coach watched the Hawkeyes' other two November signees, Zach McCabe and Ben Brust, play in games earlier this month.

Tick, tick, tick

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
Todd Lickliter spent a lot of time in his postgame news conference following Tuesday's overtime loss to Michigan talking Xs and Os in late-game situations. Hindsight is always 20-20 and undoubtedly if he knew how things were going to work out he would have done things differently at the end of regulation of the 80-78 loss to the Wolverines, a game Iowa led by 5 points before DeShawn Sims added another chapter to his book on how to beat the Hawkeyes. Sims was fouled by Devan Bawinkel as he scored with 15 seconds left and sank the free throw to cut the Iowa lead to two points. Michigan fouled Cully Payne on the inbounds, and the Iowa freshman missed the first but hit the second to preserve a 66-63 lead with :13 to play. Because of the amount of time on the clock, Lickliter opted not to foul the Wolverines and Sims made Iowa and its coach pay for that decision. His 3-pointer with :06 left tied the game and forced an overtime that the Hawkeyes couldn't win. "Because their were 13 seconds to go, it's early. There's going to be a few more possessions. They get the three, it goes into overtime, plus you probably have another chance to score,'' Lickliter said. "If you foul, they make the free throws, they foul you and then you miss, then they have a chance to win in regulation. The worst you can do is tie, but the way they shoot it, there was a debate going on. Normally, less time means you foul, but 13 seconds is a lot of time. There was going to be two or three more possessions.'' Iowa had the last possession of regulation and opted to put the ball in the hot hands of Aaron Fuller, whose baseline drive was snuffed out by Sims. Lickliter was asked why Iowa didn't feed the ball to someone who may have been more open on the perimeter, where the Hawkeyes hit 10-of-22 3-point attempts. "We thought we still had time to lay it in,'' Lickliter said. "Maybe we lay it in and get fouled and put three on the board the old-fashioned way. There were a lot of things that could have happened, but didn't.'' Lickliter and Michigan coach John Beilein spent a lot of time praising the effort of players on both teams. Asked about Aaron Fuller's 30-point performance, Lickliter said, "He's pretty good, isn't he? The sad thing is, you have guys playing really well and you don't get the win. I thought Matt Gatens was really good tonight. Cully was good. Eric (May) defended well. They have a guy where, if you're on him, he just raises up and shoots it in. They have two guys like that. You can guard them if you want, but they're going to raise it up and shoot it in. It's a tough thing to have to handle. They run great stuff, they're well coached, but they do have some special players.'' Sims and Manny Harris combined for 47 points Tuesday. "It was a great game,'' Beilein said. "I think everybody in the building got their money's worth. It was entertaining. If we would have dropped that game, not winning in overtime, we still would have walked away feeling good abou the direction of our team. I'm happy for Todd because his team played so well.'' Iowa challenged Michigan's inside attack, limiting Sims and Harris to a combined 12-of-33 shooting inside the arc. Sims earned his 27 with a 10-of-25 game from the field. "I think he's capable of finishing ever better,'' Beilein said. "Iowa does a really good job of walling up and getting into you, knocking you around a little bit. He didn't finish some of those shots, but credit Iowa's defense.''

Offensive offense

Monday, February 15th, 2010
The competition has had something to do with it, but Iowa coach Todd Lickliter believes the Hawkeyes can do more to help themselves after posting scoring totals in the 40s in three of their last five games. "It puts a lot of pressure on your defense if you have to hold an opponent to under 40 to give yourself a chance to win. That's virtually impossible,'' Lickliter said today during a teleconference with Iowa beat reporters. "We have to look at it and I need to do a better job of helping our guys know when opportunties are there. We have to use film more adequately to show them where the openings are. In fairness to the guys, Saturday it was very physical and Purdue forces you into quick decisions. It is hard to make shots when you run into a buzzsaw like that.'' Lickliter said his team needs to regain efficiency on offense. Iowa has endured two of its three poorest shooting efforts of the season in its last four games, shooting 29.6 percent in its 57-49 loss at home to Illinois and 29.8 percent in its 23-point road loss to the Boilermakers. Lickliter believes turnovers were more of an issue than shot selection in the Purdue game. "The shots we are looking for are shots we know we can make. That's the best you can ask for. The other day, we struggled with that and when we didn't find those, we went ahead and shot the ball. I felt like we passed up some fairly good looks, so we have to gain a better feel for the flow of our offense,'' Lickliter said. He considered Iowa's first possession of the game - a possession that included good ball movement and ended with Jarryd Cole knocking down a mid-range jumper that gave Iowa a brief 2-0 lead - to be the Hawkeyes' most effective possession against the Boilermakers. "The turnovers probably hurt us more than our shot selection against Purdue, but one does impact the other,'' Lickliter said.

Three in one

Sunday, February 14th, 2010
Iowa didn't fare any better in the final game of its second three-game week of the Big Ten season than it did in the first time around. Saturday's 23-point loss at Purdue was similar in many respects to the 14-point loss Iowa endured at Michigan two weeks earlier. "Unfortunately, we have days like this,'' Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said. "We're not the first team and we won't be the last. But there is nothing we can do about it.'' Lickliter refused to blame the Hawkeyes problems on a hectic schedule. Both he and his players expect more than what transpired Saturday afternoon at Mackey Arena. "It has been a challenge,'' Lickliter said. Both of Iowa's three-game weeks began and ended with road trips and with a limited roster, it was probably only a matter of time Saturday before the Boilermakers seized control of the game. That time came about eight minutes into the first half, when Iowa began a 1-for-13 stretch from the field that was followed by turnovers in eight of the Hawkeyes' last nine possessions of the half. Most of the shots were contested, some were open looks that have to be made when you are competing against the sixth-ranked team in the country. "Most of the turnovers seemed like they led to points,'' Lickliter said. "Against Purdue, you have to make quick decisions and you have to make them under duress. They're very physical, very aggressive, and when you don't make the plays that are there to be made, it's tough.'' Asked specifically about the schedule Iowa was handed, Lickliter simply said it wasn't one he would have given a young team. "You deal with it,'' he said. The Hawkeyes, who play again Tuesday against Michigan, will deal with it as well. "All you can do is watch film, learn from this and move on,'' freshman Eric May said.

Tuckered out

Friday, February 12th, 2010
Anthony Tucker and the Iowa basketball program have agreed to go their separate ways. The announcement that probably should have happened weeks ago came less than an hour ago when coach Todd Lickliter announced that Tucker had asked for and had been granted a release from his scholarship. The announcement brings to a close the Hawkeye career of a player who made more headlines than game-winning shots during his 1-plus years on the Iowa campus. From academic issues and illness to a pair of public intoxication charges within 13 months, Tucker hasn't exactly proven to be the poster child for the college experience - at least not the experience the NCAA prefers to advertise. Truth be told, today's move is probably in the best interest of both Tucker and the Hawkeyes. Lickliter was right earlier this week when he talked about how Iowa had move on since Tucker was suspended on Dec. 20 following his latest arrest on public intoxication charges. Roles have changed. Aaron Fuller and Eric May have emerged as leaders and Matt Gatens has slipped into the two guard position Tucker filled with starts in Iowa's first 11 games of the season. There is a chemistry that has developed and has allowed to compete. Tucker, according to Lickliter at a news conference earlier this week, was working to fulfill all requirements of his suspension. He dressed for Iowa's last two games, but had not seen any time on the floor, a "coach's decision'' as Lickliter put it. Tucker averaged 11.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in 11 starts this season. He sat out the final 14 games of a Hawkeye career that included a grand total of 42 minutes on the floor over two seasons against Big Ten competition. He totaled 14 points and six rebounds in those four games. His exit will provide the Minnetonka, Minn., native with the chance for a fresh start, hopefully in a place with friendlier cab drivers and warmer alleys. It will also provide Iowa with a chance to move beyond the drama that seemed to follow Tucker around and focus on on-court matters that matter. The Hawkeyes will now have an open scholarship to work with during the spring signing period, where a ball-handling guard or a strong interior defender should be among players Iowa coaches seek.