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Archive for October, 2010

The ones that got away

Sunday, October 31st, 2010
Coaches of two Iowa recruits who were released from signed letters of intent last spring are liking what they have seen from Ben Brust and Cody Larson during the opening weeks of practice. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said during Thursday's Big Ten media day that he has been impressed with what he has seen from Brust. "Ben moves away from the ball even better than Jason Bohannon did coming in, as far as knowing how to get open, how to read things, things like that,'' Ryan said. Ryan added a quick disclaimer, though. "I'm not saying he's a Jason Bohannon, though,'' Ryan said. At Florida, Cody Larson saw the floor for 15 minutes in the Gators' 92-58 exhibition win over Florida Tech this weekend. Larson finished with one point and one rebound for a team that ranks ninth in the Associated Press preseason poll. Florida coach Billy Donovan said he has been pleased with the progress Larson has made and the way he has handled the two years of probation he received after reaching a plea agreement on misdemeanor drug charges stemming from a situation in his home state of South Dakota. Larson shared the prescription drug Hydrocodone with a high school teammate while rehabbing an injury, according to police reports in Sioux Falls. Part of the plea agreement involves performing community service and Larson has spent time speaking at group homes and serving food at homeless shelters. He told the Gainesville Sun that it was a "real humbling experience. I've moved past it though. I've learned a valuable lesson from it and I'm just kind of moving on.'' Larson is battling for a spot in the Gators' frontcourt rotation and coach Billy Donovan said he has been competed well during the opening weeks of practice. Donovan told the Sun that he accepted Larson's explination of what transpired in regards to his court case. "It was a case of a young man who was very, very naive in a lot of ways,'' Donovan told the publication.

Brommer’s chance

Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Speaking at Thursday's Big Ten media day, first-year Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery talked about the importance of Hawkeye big men Jarryd Cole and Andrew Brommer having good seasons if Iowa is going to have a chance for success during the upcoming year. McCaffery said that Cole "needs to play like a senior,'' something he believes the only senior on the Hawkeye roster is capable of doing. "Jarryd has a great frame, great experience, he can score and he will give us a physical presence we need,'' McCaffery said. The Iowa coach also said he believes Brommer is "somebody who will surprise people'' this season. The 6-foot-9 junior showed flashes of potential when he was given a chance last season, averaging 1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds in 22 appearances off of the bench. McCaffery praised Brommer's skill set and his physical ability. "He'll get a chance and I believe he'll make the most of it,'' McCaffery said. "He can run. He's got a jump hook. He can hit the trail 3. When you look at our team, you're not expecting much from him.'' McCaffery said in reviewing tapes of last year's games, he said Brommer appeared to always be on edge. "He never had much of an opportunity and when he did, he never settled down,'' McCaffery said. "He's going to get a chance to do that this season and I think what people will see is a legitimate Big Ten post player.''

Short-handed Hawkeyes

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
Iowa's first exhibition game is more than a week away, but the Hawkeye basketball team already finds itself a bit shorthanded. A torn tendon in his left hand -- his non-shooting hand -- leaves junior guard Matt Gatens scheduled for surgery on Thursday morning. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will likely address the situation in greater detail at the Big Ten media day tomorrow, but Iowa will likely play the first few weeks of the season without its most experienced starter. Healing time following tendon tears varies depending on the severity of the tear and doctors probably won't be able to put a timetable to Gatens' injury until they perform the surgery tomorrow. Gatens led Iowa in scoring, free-throw shooting and 3-point shooting last season and has started in each of the 64 games Iowa has played since his arrival. A shift strictly to a two-guard position this season was designed to give Gatens a chance to thrive as a shooter in McCaffery's system. McCaffery has said he wanted to see Gatens "to be a player who consistently puts points on the board and consistently is aggressive offensively.'' His absence creates a hole in the Hawkeye backcourt. McCaffery has said he would be willing to play both of his point guards, returning sophomore Cully Payne and juco transfer Bryce Cartwright, at the same time. He could also turn to freshman Devyn Marble or a walk-on juco transfer, Jordan Stoermer, for help at the position as Gatens heals.

An opening

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Iowa basketball fans will get one last chance to see the Hawkeyes practice before the team's exhibition game on Nov. 7. Saturday's practice before the Iowa-Michigan State football game will be open to the public. This is a practice, not a scrimmage, and it will begin at approximately 12:30 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. There is no admission charge and it will provide folks with a chance to get a feel for what a preseason practice session is about. Iowa welcomed the public to a similar workout a week ago, providing fans with a few hints of the up-tempo pace that Iowa expects to play at under the leadership of Fran McCaffery. The Hawkeye coach will meet the media this week in Chicago, where the Big Ten will hold its annual preseason media day on Thursday.

Opening the doors

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
With 70,000 Hawkeye fans in the neighborhood for the football game with Wisconsin, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will open the doors to his basketball team's practice to the public on Saturday. The practice will begin at around 12:15 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and is open to the public at no charge. Iowa opens its 2010-11 schedule with an exhibition game against Illinois-Springfield at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7.

A quiet start?

Saturday, October 16th, 2010
There was no Midnight Madness at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, no swarms of fans waiting to catch a first glimpse of the Iowa basketball team as it began practices. Apparently the focus for the Hawkeyes has been on work -- not mugging for the cameras and competing in dunk contests. That's not necessarily a bad thing as Iowa begins the task of digging its way out of the 10-22 reality of last season and projections that have the Hawkeyes filling a spot in the Big Ten basement during the upcoming season. We presume it has been a fairly business-like and quiet start to practices for Iowa. We cannot know for sure. Fran McCaffery has decided to close practices to everyone in his first season as the Hawkeyes' coach, furthering a trend of recent years. In the days when Lute Olson was preparing his Hawkeyes for NCAA play, practices at the Iowa Field House were open. He actually didn't have much of a choice. The Field House was (and is) filled with classrooms and venues that are used for classes. Typically, a handful of folks would sit the rafters to watch what was going on. It actually was a fairly decent place to catch up on a chapter or two of reading between classes. George Raveling and Tom Davis held open practices at Carver, although the distance from the heart of campus never attracted more than a couple of folks in the stands. Recent coaches Steve Alford and Todd Lickliter were less open to folks watching what was going on on the practice court. Practices were typically open to the media one day each week following news conferences. They were always closed on the day prior to and the day after competition. That limited access no longer exists, but we assume that the Hawkeyes have had a more quiet start to their work than Purdue where Robbie Hummel's return to the court ended abruptly this morning when the all-Big Ten forward suffered a torn ACL in practice, re-injuring the same knee he injured Feb. 24 in a game at Minnesota. Hummel's senior season has ended before it began and you have to feel a bit for one of the genuinely nice guys to compete in the Big Ten in recent years. In a statement, Boilermakers coach Matt Painter called the situation disappointing for Hummel and the team. "As he begins his rehab and recovery, we'll persevere together and provide Robbie with all the support possible,'' Painter said. "I have no doubt he'll continue to play a pivotal role this season as a leader of our team.'' Hummel averaged 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last season for a Purdue team that was ranked third nationally at the time he was injured. Hummel is the second Big Ten big man to suffer a preseason ACL injury. Penn State forward Sasa Borovnjak tore the ACL in his right knee during a team workout a week before the official start of practices. Borovnjak, a native of Serbia who played in 18 games last season as a true freshman, suffered the injury in a non-contact drill.

Improving Archie

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
One piece of news that Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery served up at his team's media day today was that Devon Archie is finally nearing a return to action. Injuries and illness led Archie to redshirt a year ago, leaving the 6-foot-9 Indianapolis native with two years of eligibility. "This week will be his first time up and down the floor in 5-on-5,'' McCaffery said. McCaffery would welcome the opportunity to put Archie's length to use on the floor this season. "Physically, he has some things to offer us and he understands the motion game which will be our primary offense,'' McCaffery said. "He's a guy who needs to gain some confidence. He's had a rough year with injuries and personal issues. This is his chance and he'll get a chance.'' Archie joins eight other newcomers who will join five returning players on the court Friday when Iowa begins practices. McCaffery said implementation of the offensive and defensive schemes Iowa will utilize has been an ongoing process, beginning with spring workouts and continuing during the small group and team sessions that have taken place since the team returned to campus for the fall semester.

Inside sales

Monday, October 4th, 2010
During an appearance at the Davenport Grid Club today, Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery talked about the importance of players on the team helping sell the program to recruits. "When you take over a program, one of the first things you look for is how the players respond to the message,'' McCaffery said. "They can help us a great deal in recruiting and we had results in that last week.'' McCaffery did not mention Cedar Rapids Washington prep Josh Oglesby by name, but on the day Oglesby announced his verbal commitment he talked about conversations he had with future teammate Matt Gatens about the program and the direction it was headed. The words of players on the inside of a program speak loudly to athletes trying to reach a college decision. The Hawkeyes secured a second verbal commitment today and forward Aaron White of Strongsville, Ohio also mentioned the positive vibes he felt as talked with future teammates during a recruiting visit last month. "The players all had good things to say about where things were headed and coach McCaffery, he has won everywhere he has been. I believe he will get it done at Iowa, too.'' White will be following a high school teammate to Iowa City. Ray Hamilton, a tight end on the Strongsville football team who lines up in the same frontcourt with White in basketball, made his verbal commitment to join the Hawkeyes earlier this summer.