June 7, 2011
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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 — Former University of Iowa and NBA basketball player Ryan Bowen looks back on his first year as a member of head coach Fran McCaffery’s men’s basketball staff as a tremendous opportunity and learning experience.
“After my playing career ended, I was looking for an opportunity to get into coaching and it just worked out that Iowa had an opening,” said Bowen, who serves as UI’s video coordinator and administrative assistant. “I’m very thankful to coach McCaffery for this opportunity. He is great coach and person to learn under, and start the process of getting into coaching.”
The Fort Madison, Iowa, native and graduate manager Drew Speraw spent most of their time during the season clipping games for the coaches and players, and working on scouting reports.
“When we prepare the breakdowns of other teams, we show our players the things they need to see, breakdown each player individually, as well as general plays,” said Bowen. “We show our guys things they are doing right and wrong, and what sets our opponents typically run.”
In addition to preparing for the upcoming summer recruiting season, Bowen and the staff are multi-tasking.
“We have two weeks of youth camps coming up, so we are getting ready for that,” Bowen said. “We are also still tying up some loose ends from last season; looking at how we can be more efficient in certain areas. Also, we are coordinating the coaches’ recruiting traveling schedules and making sure our newcomers are set when they arrive on campus for summer school and Prime Time League.”
Bowen, who was a four-year Hawkeye letterwinner (1994-98), two-time all-Big Ten honoree and Chris Street Award winner, recently concluded an 11-year professional career. During his nine-year NBA career, Bowen played with Denver, Houston and New Orleans. Bowen admits there are still some things he misses from his playing days.
“I miss the competition, the everyday practice and hanging out with the guys,” he said. “Also, after a good game, the celebration in the locker room knowing you beat a good team. I don’t miss the travel, though. There are a lot of long days and nights on the road.”
Bowen was able to see two NBA games, in person, as a fan for the first time this year. He took his kids to a Denver-Orlando game during Spring Break and, most recently, drove to Chicago to watch the Eastern Conference Finals between Miami and Chicago.
“I had a weird feeling going to the game in Orlando,” said Bowen. “It was really strange going to an NBA game, not playing and being a part of it.”
Bowen, who is Iowa’s career field goal percentage (57.5%) and steals (208) leader, enjoyed speaking with a couple of his former teammates at both games.
“I talked with Chris Anderson, Nene and Juwan Howard, who I played with at Denver and Houston,” said Bowen. “It was good to see Juwan in Chicago during the playoffs. He’s one of my favorite teammates.”
During Bowen’s two seasons with Houston (2004-06), Tom Thibodeau was an assistant for the Rockets. Thibodeau just concluded his rookie season as an NBA head coach with the Chicago Bulls.
“It was great playing for him,” said Bowen. “He has such a passion for the game. Tom was a coach that took each player aside after every game and explained what you did right and wrong. He was always giving you tips and willing to work with you.”
The NBA Finals are underway with Miami taking the early advantage with its win Tuesday. Bowen is excited to watch and has an interest in the series. Bowen started three games against Dirk Nowitzki in the 2005 Playoffs and was teammates with Dallas’ Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler while in New Orleans.
“I’m really happy for Tyson and Peja,” said Bowen. “Those two are unbelievable players and great people as well.”
Although Bowen admits he didn’t predict Miami or Dallas to get to this point, he believes the two teams that played the best playoff basketball are still alive.
“It’s great for the NBA that those two teams are playing for the championship. Interest and viewership is up, which is great for the sport.”
Playing nine years in the NBA, all in the Western Conference, you can imagine who Bowen would like to see win the title.
“I’ve always been a Western Conference player, so that’s why I’m kind of rooting for Dallas,” said Bowen. “You always want to see a team from your conference win. It’s hard to go against LeBron James and the Heat. Regardless of who wins, it will be a great series.”