Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

Dec. 17, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Random thoughts on another Sunday morning in the Heartland…

Before I get too deep into today’s collection, allow me the opportunity of a correction. Last week, I noted – incorrectly – that Iowa’s victory over Iowa State was the first of the season over a nationally ranked squad by Bluder’s Bunch. Well, a handful of you suggested that I check the record book because the Hawkeyes’ victory over the Cyclones was actually the second of the year for Lisa’s squad, the first coming against No. 12 West Virginia by a 79-70 score in the second of two games played in Miami in late November. “Those are hard to come by,” Lisa reminded me.


Speaking of Lisa’s squad, the Hawkeyes square off against Drake in Lisa’s old stomping grounds later today. If you call the greater Des Moines area home and are looking for something to do for a couple hours, consider helping Bluder’s Bunch complete a sweep of its intrastate rivals. Game time in the Knapp Center is set for 2 p.m. Can’t get there but are a Mediacom customer? You can watch the game on MC22.

I made my first visit to Wells Fargo Arena Saturday for the inaugural Hy-Vee Big Four Classic. I came away (even more) impressed with our men’s basketball team and extremely impressed with “The Well.” It’s a fantastic facility. Well lit, comfortable, easy to access… The scoreboard system was having trouble “talking to” the game’s statistics computer program, but that is a correctable error. Kudos, too, to the 13,000 in attendance that added to the environment. It had the look and the feel of a post-season event, something that all four teams will benefit from come March when they are ramping up for their conference tournaments and, hopefully, NCAA Tournament participation.

So, what can I say about Devyn Marble that you didn’t read online last night or won’t read about in today’s newspapers? Well, I’d start by suggesting he appeared to be fully dialed in from the opening tip. Then I’d jump to the end of his workday when he was as calm, cool, and collected I in his post-game interview with Bobby Hansen of the Hawkeye Radio Network as he was during his 30-point effort on the playing floor. He told Bobby quite candidly that he’s still searching for that “complete” game and suggested that Aaron White’s nine rebounds and Eric May’s seven assists were every bit as important as his scoring total. Iowa’s talented junior also talked about how his game has improved as a result of gaining bulk and strength, noting that he could make the same moves as a freshman that he did yesterday but he wouldn’t be able to complete them because he didn’t have the strength that was required. He was also a little chagrined to learn that the Indiana Hoosiers aren’t likely to enter Carver-Hawkeye Arena on New Year’s Eve as the nation’s top ranked team, “We’ll still have our hands full,” he correctly suggested. My other take: Fran talks about the “chemistry” of this current team. I could hear and feel that chemistry as Devyn talked about his teammates and the victory. Good stuff, I’d say.

You can read our take on the game, Iowa’s second win over an intrastate rival in eight days, HERE.

UI women’s gymnastics coach Larissa Libby had a pair of student-athletes named to the Big Ten Conference’s “Watch List.” That’s always a good thing for the guys guys in black and gold. You can read about that by clicking HERE.

It was fun to see former Hawkeye Luke Recker chucking three-balls during halftime of yesterday’s game. I’m not sure how he fared in the competition, but it was clear to me that – like riding a bike – once a shooter, always a shooter. Luke’s stroke looked pretty good many more times than not.

Regular readers know I thoroughly enjoy Fran McCaffery’s press conferences because he’s candid and straightforward. Saturday’s was no different. Iowa’s third-year head coach talked about how nice it was to reward the fans of the Hawkeyes who returned to Wells Fargo this year with a victory. “We just didn’t play very well last year here (against Creighton),” he said. He also suggested that there was only one negative in his team’s performance and that was its 13 first half turnovers. “Then we only turn it twice in the second half,” he noted with nary a hesitation. Later, he suggested that the biggest buckets of the day were likely Melsahn Basabe’s jumper from the top of the key and Aaron White’s 3-pointer on Iowa’s very next possession. White’s gave Iowa control of the game. Big buckets, to say the least.

It was fun to see former Hawkeye Luke Recker chucking three-balls during halftime of yesterday’s game. I’m not sure how he fared in the competition, but it was clear to me that – like riding a bike – once a shooter, always a shooter. Luke’s stroke looked pretty good many more times than not.

Have you checked out the free video inside Hawkeye All-Access lately? Lots of good stuff including a highlights package from yesterday’s game in Des Moines. Click HERE and enjoy!

James Ferentz and Micah Hyde were named co-winners of the Roy J. Carver Most Valuable Player Award at the Iowa football team’s annual awards banquet. Both were certainly deserving of the recognition. You can read more about that award and others HERE.

Speaking of the gridiron, ’tis the season of “Gain one, lose one” on the recruiting trail. Crazy business, yes. My two cents? Yeah, you hate losin’ ’em, but you muscle through and move on. We’ve done that before and with a fair amount of success, it’s accurate to add. So, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no reason why we can’t again particularly when one steps back for a moment and realizes that the cupboard isn’t as bare as many seem to want to think.

One final note on football: Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette notes HERE the Big Ten is looking for feedback from fans on the composition of the next generation of the Legends and Leaders divisions. And, yes, I wrote “Legends” and “Leaders” deliberately. As far as this Big Ten football fan is concerned, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these designations. In fact, I like them more today than I did when they were first announced. Just one man’s/fan’s opinion…

Tom Brands and his Hawkeyes treated New Yorkers assembled in Madison Square Garden yesterday to a little college wrestling, Hawkeye style. You can read about that HERE.

13,180. That was the final tally at the gate yesterday. The total was a little less than 1,300 shy of a sellout and gives the four schools something to shoot for next year. From my seat, the paying customer got pretty much what I thought they would: Four very competent teams playing two pretty entertaining ball games on a neutral court that, as I mentioned earlier, gave the teams a taste of what’s to come when Madness strikes. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon in December.

Talk about depth. Take a moment to examine the box from yesterday: HERE. Compare it against the box from last week’s victory over Iowa State: HERE. Yep. Fran has lots of options.

Lastly, it wouldn’t be right for me not to mention the play of Mike Gessell yesterday against the Panthers. 28 minutes, 23 points, four three-pointers including a couple early that got the Hawkeye offense going at a high RPM early. Sure, he had a handful of miscues, but, more times than not, I find myself wondering how a freshman can be so steady, so solid, so senior-like. And, by the way, speaking of seniors, how about a little applause for Eric May. Talk about rock solid.