Opponent Scouting; The Never-Ending Process

Dec. 27, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s the middle of finals week and the Iowa men’s basketball team is only a couple days away from playing at Drake. While the team was focused on preparing for the Bulldogs, assistant coach Kirk Speraw was in the beginning stages of scouting Illinois, who the Hawkeyes open Big Ten play against on Dec. 29 in Iowa City.

“The coaches prepare in depth scouting reports for us,” Gatens said. “They put a lot of work behind the scenes preparing the film and studying our opponents. When we get on the court we feel like we are prepared and ready for what’s coming.”

Speraw admits that he thinks the depth and attention to detail in the scouting reports may have been a shock to the players’ system early on but believes they are doing a better job digesting all the information that is presented.

Each assistant coach takes turns heading the scout for an opponent. While Sherman Dillard was spending hours scouting Drake and Andrew Francis studying Louisiana Tech, Speraw began researching and working on getting the Hawkeyes ready for the Illini when they return to practice after Christmas break.

“We want to have the scouting report completed when we present it to our team, which is usually two days, possibly three days, prior to a game,” explained Speraw. “We might start working on a scouting report as many as 10-12 days ahead of the game.”

Speraw says the coaches watch as many games as they can of an opponent so they have as much detailed information as possible on the opposition. The coaches break down film of at least six or seven of their games, however Speraw expects to watch more of Illinois.

“I’ll probably look at every game Illinois has played this season,” said Speraw. “In addition to working on the scout in the office, I do a lot from home. I’m usually watching film on an opponent until midnight or after.”

While the coaches break down the opponent, graduate manager Drew Speraw and video coordinator Ryan Bowen play critical roles in compiling the film edits and marking game tapes so it’s easy to pick out what the staff efficiently wants the players to see. The scouting report becomes complete when Drew puts the scouting report on paper.

“Drew and Ryan are doing a lot of hard work behind the scenes to make it easy on the rest of us,” said Speraw.

As game day approaches a plan is put in place and the team prepares for their next opponent.

“We’ll spend about 40-45 minutes on a particular day covering the entire scouting report for an opponent,” explained Speraw. “That includes about 20-25 minutes on the court and another 20 minutes in the film room.”

Junior shooting guard Matt Gatens, who has scored in double figures and led the team in scoring the last three games, praises the coaching staff’s hard work in getting the team prepared and ready for each opponent.

“The guys are getting better at processing all of what they do individually and collectively as a team, taking the game plan and trying to execute that game plan on the court, which is the toughest thing to do,” said Speraw.

The Hawkeyes finished the non-conference schedule 7-5, winning four of their last five contests. Gatens believes the team is prepared and ready to start conference play.

“We feel like we have some momentum going into league play winning four of our last five games,” said Gatens. “We’re excited to have a little break and then have a good week of practice leading up to the Illinois game. It’s going to be a long run with a lot of good teams we are going to play and prepare for, but I think the non-conference has prepared us. We are ready for league play to begin.”

“You go through the nonconference to get yourself ready for league play,” said Speraw. “Certainly, we are in one of the best, if not the best conference in the country, so we know each and every game will be a challenge. But, our guys will be focused and ready to take on that challenge.”

Iowa (7-5) and No. 21 Illinois (10-3) open conference play Wednesday, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.