Feb. 4, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Random thoughts from the Heartland on Super Bowl Sunday…
For the record, I kind of prefer the weather of last Sunday and Monday to that which swept across our neck of the woods midweek and lingers here today. Brrrrrr….but it is Iowa and it is the third day of February so what should we realistically expect?
Two more big basketball games today, one featuring Fran’s team in “The Barn” in Minneapolis and the other featuring Bluder’s Bunch on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tip time up north is noon; tip time here in Iowa City is 1 p.m. For those of you who want to sit by the fire, both games are on television, the men on BTN, the women on Mediacom’s MC22.
15,000 paying customers for a wrestling meet? To be exact, 15,077 were in Carver Friday night for this one: HERE. A big deal, yes. But a little less so here. We love our Hawkeyes and Iowans love their college wrestling. Make no mistake, though. There are lots of folks around this great land of ours that simply can’t wrap their arms around the idea of that many folks gathering for a wrestling event. Ask the 15,000 in Carver Friday and they’ll tell them they don’t know what they’re missing.
Tom Brands is one smart, hard-working cat, smart and hard-working enough to let a smile come to his face – briefly — after a toppling of No. 1. His eyes didn’t fall off the big prize Friday night after his team’s big win on Mediacom Mat…but he did allow himself and his band of bulldog Hawkeyes a chance to savor a job well done. “Sometimes, though, you can maybe smile a little bit and I’m probably smiling a little bit right now. Not to the point where you’re slapping yourself on the back so much, but more (because) there was some toughness,” he said during his post-event visit with the media.
Truth be told, I really don’t know much about the sport of wrestling other than this: These guys are super-size strong mentally and super-size strong physically. Case in point: Mike Evans. Iowa’s 174-pounder was strong enough mentally and strong enough physically late in his match to take what appeared to this novice as a pretty dismal situation for good guy in black and gold, and somehow managed to flip the situation 180-degrees to his advantage and the decisive points in his upset win.
Wednesday is National Signing Day for Kirk and his staff. It marks the end of what I believe is a little more than a two-year process of identifying future Hawks, courting future Hawks, educating future Hawks, courting future Hawks a little more, and, lastly, getting the signature of future Hawks. I know there are all kinds of rankings and “stars” and all that stuff in the world of recruiting. I will again suggest wes do what the head coach always suggests during his annual signing day visit with the media and wait a few years before determining where this collection of Hawkeyes fit in the big scheme of things.
There are lots of folks around this great land of ours that simply can’t wrap their arms around the idea of that many folks gathering for a wrestling event. Ask the 15,000 in Carver Friday and they’ll tell them they don’t know what they’re missing.
Two more thoughts on Friday night: First, the one-two punch of the efforts delivered by Matt McDonough and Tony Ramos in the first dual matches of the evening lit up the “Blackout” crowd and set the tone for the evening. Everyone entered the Arena knew Iowa had work to do in every match – win ’em big and lose ’em small – but winning that pair with the an exclamation point in second was big, very big. Second, as I said above, 15,000 in the house….that’s amazing and a compliment to the value of the entertainment Tom and his staff and their student-athletes bring to the table.
As always, there’s lots of great video inside Hawkeye All-Access including the latest edition of Hawkeye Sports Report and highlights from Friday night’s big dual: HERE.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday, so the question is: East Coast or West Coast? My heart says Baltimore, my head says the City by the Bay. 49ers by 10.
Speaking of the Super Bowl, a tip of the fedora to our two Super Hawks: Baltimore Ravens Marshal Yanda and Sean Considine. I believe I read somewhere that the 2013 game marks the 10th in a row that features at least one graduate of Kirk Ferentz’s football program and the University of Iowa on the roster of at least one of the two finalists.
Speaking of reading things noteworthy – or, at least eyebrow-raising – I also saw these two this past week, both of which are related to “Twitter”: No. 1: A men’s college basketball coach found the time during halftime of one his games to tweet about his team’s less-than-spectacular play in the game’s first 20 minutes. No. 2: The president of a university tweeted about how excited he and the crowd was at one of his institution’s men’s basketball games. The only problem with that was that the tweet was sent a day early. Hmmm…
At the bottom of this – HERE – Aaron White, courtesy of the Des Moines Register’s Rick Brown, answered a question I’ve asked a couple of times during the past week: “Don’t our victories over Wisconsin and Iowa State, two teams that are currently pegged into every prognosticator’s NCAA Tournament bracket, count as “Resume Builders” for Fran’s squad?”
The average attendance for the 13 home games played to date by Fran’s team is a handful over 13,000. Iowa has five games left at home, three on a Saturday or Sunday, one weekday tilt with Illinois, and another against Purdue. Given that slate, it appears very likely that the Hawkeyes’ average attendance won’t creep below 13,000…which means the UI will average more than 13,000 fans at its men’s basketball games for the first time in a decade. Yes. As I’ve said previously, the program is in good hands and is heading squarely in the right direction.
Speaking of Fran’s squad, Melsahn Basabe is on quite a roll, don’t you think? It sure is fun watching the progress from freshman to sophomore, sophomore to junior. Word is that he’ll be in the starting five again today…not that it matters to the soft-spoken New Yorker: HERE.
Have you had a chance to review the interview, “One-on-One with Gary Barta,” yet? It’s available inside the February edition of Hawk Talk Monthly which was delivered to your inbox on Thursday and is available HERE. The unedited video is also available: HERE. Lots of good stuff in there including Gary’s comments on Black Friday football and how that’s what’s best for Kirk’s student-athletes.