Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

April 2, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Random thoughts on an Easter Sunday here in the Heartland…

Box scores provide a lot of data. I think our head coach in men’s basketball likes the fact that the box score for last Wednesday’s game reveals that our second half field goal percentage was better than that of our first half, that our second half percentage from behind the arc was better than that of our first half, that we won the battle of the boards in both halves and increased the margin of victory on the glass in the second half, and that we did all of this in front of a boisterous crowd of 11,000-plus.


All of you know how much I like the Wall Street Journal’s single-page sports section. Short and sweet and well done. This one takes to task the RPI — in an indirect way – compliments of the “top ranked men’s basketball conference in the country,” the Mountain West Conference: HERE . I also enjoyed this one: HERE.

Is there a single play more indicative of the heart and grit that Eric May brings to the hardcourt and the 2012-13 Iowa Hawkeyes than his all-in dive for that loose ball early in the second half of Wednesday’s victory? I don’t think so.

The April edition of Hawk Talk Daily is available and, like previous editions, it’s filled with some really good stuff. The cover story is a feature on Roy Devyn Marble that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. There’s also pieces on Anthony Clemmons (men’s basketball), Derek St. John (with video, wrestling), NCAA qualifiers in men’s swimming, the seniors on Iowa’s men’s gymnastics squad, Maya Wickus (women’s gymnastics), Ricky Sandquist (baseball), Kayla Massey in our most recent addition to the “24 Hawks to Watch” series (softball), Garret Dunn (men’s tennis), Kaitlin Nelson (women’s track), Amy Ihm and Briana Midkiff (women’s golf) in addition to regular features by yours truly (Random Thoughts) and on our football program (Iowa Football: 24-7-365) and, one of my favorites, “By the Numbers.” Yeah, that’s a lot…but there’s no shortage of great stories to tell. Enjoy it all HERE.

Way back when as a student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale — which, by the way, is tucked away in one of the prettiest regions of the Midwest — I was introduced to the four P’s of marketing: Price, Product, Place, and Promotion. In recent years, the number of “P’s” has grown to five and, some argue, six. You can read about that HERE. The principles of the four, five or six “Ps” can be effectively applied against everything from selling soap to selling cars to selling tickets to games in the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. I bring this to the table to lament the fact that our women’s basketball team had to tip off what turned out to be its final game of the season at the challenging time of 8:40 p.m. last Tuesday night…and that start time had a significant impact on our potential for attendance. You see, the “time” an event will be played fits squarely in “Place.” There are really good times to attend a game in the eyes of a consumer, OK times for a consumer, and really bad times for a consumer. Unfortunately, an 8:40 start time for a women’s basketball game on a weeknight is akin to attempting to put a square peg in a round hole. It’s challenging. It’s tough to overcome. It’s also the compromise required for live television coverage, a strategy that slowly but surely is helping to grow interest in the sport locally, regionally, and nationally.

The road to New York City for Fran’s squad has been very impressive in a number of ways including the quality of the teams it has defeated in its first three post-season contests. Let’s review: The “March to Manhattan” opened the NIT with a win over Indiana State. That might not sound particularly impressive, but among the Sycamores’ wins were games at Wichita State — a team that defeated Ohio State last night to advance to the Final Four – and Mississippi — a team that defeated Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament’s second round and was a three-pointer away from advancing to the Round of 16. Stony Brook? Well, the Seawolves won their conference – the Atlantic East and beat UMass at UMass to advance to Iowa City, where they more than held their own on Mediacom Court. Lastly, Virginia. The Cavaliers won 11 games in the Atlantic Coast Conference, including two against Duke – a Sweet 16-er that will play Louisville today for an opportunity to advance to Atlanta. They also rattled off 19 straight wins inside John Paul Jones Arena before the Hawkeyes came a calling. Many thought they deserved an invitation to the NCAA’s party. What’s next? The Maryland Terrapins…another ACC powerhouse and another team that was very much on the NCAA Tournament’s bubble. This game will also give us a glimpse of the future given the fact that the Terrapins are soon-to-be a full-fledged member of the Big Ten.

I’ve written before how much I admire and enjoy how candid and interesting Fran is whenever he visits with the media or takes what is supposed to be a 10-minute visit in his office and turns it into 30 minutes of entertaining and educational story-telling. Here’s two more pieces of evidence in support of my position. The first is our take on his visit Friday afternoon with the media. You can read that HERE. The second is the full transcript…which is filled with really good stuff. You can read that HERE.

OK. Let the debate begin. The Big Ten last night missed on its first opportunity to punch a ticket to the Final Four — by the way, Fran’s squad played that Wichita State team that is headed to Atlanta way back in November — and the leage has another opportunity today. What if our second team comes up short? Is it really true that a team from the Big Ten has to win this year’s national championship to validate the league as the best in the land in 2013? That’s what I think I’m hearing from some. I’m not ready to board that bus. Sure, I’d be proud of our league for having one of its own crowned champion, but I’d argue that that’s icing on a pretty darn good cake, a cake that this college basketball season, has no peer. Just one man’s admittedly biased opinion, of course, an opinion, by the way — from my biased perspective — only gets stronger if the Big Ten team is among the field of four headed to Atlanta.

Here’s my weekly invitation to check out all the great video available inside Hawkeye All-Access: HERE. Very good stuff that will only get better with the exclusive reports that will land there this week from our staff following Fran’s squad to the Big Apple.

There has been a rather dramatic shift of events in the Klatt Family bracket. One participant that wasn’t even in the rear view mirror a week ago is moving swiftly in the left-hand lane and just may cross the finish line ahead of all of the rest of us. It’s kind of zombie-like, actually. Dead…then alive. Kind of scary-fun in a March Madness kind of way. And, from a completely different perspective, all of this is very much an indication of how the NCAA Tournament annually successfully wedges its way deep into the mainstream culture of our country. I mean, seriously, the president was in attendance at games yesterday and the Klatt’s can’t be the only family across this great land of having the fun that we’re having – and have had for years – tracking the field of 68.

Kirk’s squad is three days into its spring practices. Here’s a link to the most comprehensive coverage available: HERE.

I’m not certain that I could have written this any better. Another person’s take on Iowa’s victory at Virginia: HERE.

This one by Mike Hlas of The Gazette is one of those feel goods that make me like what I do for a living: HERE. I also like it because, as you know, I’m (the behind-the-curtain) president of the Melsahn Basabe Fan Club. I love the way the kid plays the game.

We all know about the Super Bowl and television commercials. I have to say, however, that there’s always a pretty good crop of creativity that debuts inside the coverage of the NCAA Tournament. I’m a big fan of the series of “Humans” ads by Liberty Mutual Insurance. You know the ones I’m talking about. One opens with a young guy attempt to impress his friends with a dunk on the portable hoop in the driveway. Problem is, when he holds onto the rim, the basket tips right onto the hood of the family car. Ouch. That’s followed by the older guy kick boxing in the garage who missed the punching bag, but not the 4×4 that holding a shelf filled with boxes and tools that crash down on his vehicle. Then there’s the guy who tosses the football toward his buddy who is playing grillmaster at their tailgate. The ball hits the grill, the grill and its charcoal is jettisoned into the back of the family fan, and proceeds to burst into flames. The camera goes back to the first guy, he who had heaved the rock…and the look on his face and those gazing from behind makes me cry in laughter. Not sure I’m ready to change insurance agents, but I certainly remember — and, in this case, was entertained by – the commercial. Good stuff.

My wife and I also like in a big way AT&T’s current series with the adult and the school kids…and, beginning yesterday, former college and NBA greats. And, in case you, like me, wanted an answer to the question, “How did they do that?” with the youngsters, click HERE. This first appeared in the hard copy of Advertising Age, a publication that lands in the External Relations Office of the UI Athletics Department weekly. Enjoy.

Speaking of commercials and basketball, I swear former UCLA head coach Ben Howland has a double that appears in some of UPS’ commercials. And, speaking of Howland, did you catch him on CBS yesterday? He was eloquent in what, for many, would be an extremely challenging situation, e.g. fired just days ago in spite of having reached three Final Fours in 10 seasons in L.A., Howland chose to take the high road when engaged in conversation about the circumstances of his abrupt dismissal.

Mother Nature threw us a pretty good curve game day for Bluder’s Bunch’s first game in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Now she continues to play hide and seek with spring as our baseball and softball and track and tennis and golf teams attempt to ramp up for their Big Ten seasons. Ahhh, such is the challenge of intercollegiate athletics here in the Heartland.

Kirk’s squad is three days into its spring practices. Here’s a link to the most comprehensive coverage available: HERE.