Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

Nov. 4, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Random thoughts on another sunny Sunday after a home game at Kinnick…

The college basketball season unofficially tips today on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena with two exhibition games. Lisa’s squad takes the floor at 1 p.m. (CT), and Fran’s will follow at 3:30 p.m. It’s an inexpensive ticket and they are available at the door.

Tickets are on sale for the Hawkeyes’ game against Drake in the 2013 Hy-Vee Big Four Classic in Wells Fargo Arena in December. This is a great option for central and western Iowa fans of Fran’s team. You can purchase your tickets online HERE.


Where to begin with yesterday’s gathering at Kinnick? I’ll follow the lead of our head coach: It’s hard to beat a very good team — and, make no mistake, Wisconsin is a very good team — when you don’t take advantage of opportunities, particularly early in the game (Kirk said in his postgame visit with the Hawkeye Radio Network that it was tough to see only three points on the scoreboard after the first 15 minutes of play when we had good field position) and you give your opponent an easy one, e.g. the interception in the third quarter that the visitors quickly converted into 7 (Kirk used the example of a pitcher walking an opposing batter in the ninth inning). The good guys lost to a team whose record should be 7-1, which means Iowa has now lost four games to teams that combined sport a record of 32 victories and 3 losses…and, therein lies the challenge for Kirk and his staff and the Hawkeyes: Taking the next step. I see the Hawkeyes climbing that piece of the learning curve this month because of what all of us have seen each week this fall: A team that is getting better, week over week. Yesterday, even in defeat, you saw individuals performing at a higher level this week than they did last…and you saw guys like Jordan Canzeri and C.J. Beathard take opportunities and run with them.

Iowa will have a chance to do exactly that — take an opportunity and run with it — in three of the next four weeks. During Kirk’s postgame visit with Gary and Ed, Ed suggested that what lies ahead for the Hawkeyes in the month of November is one huge opportunity. “You guys must have been listening in to the locker room,” Kirk said, noting that beginning with next week’s game at Purdue, there is an opportunity to continue to get better and finish strong, and that this team of Hawkeyes is determined to do that.

You can read our take on the game HERE.

You can read what Kirk had to say HERE

You can watch some great video of the event HERE.

You can check out some photographs HERE and HERE.

You can take a peek at the Big Ten Conference standings HERE and next week’s schedule HERE.

It was nice to have a Iowa’s Masters champion — Zach Johnson — in the house on Saturday.

It’s always nice to be told you’re doing a good job. It’s particularly nice when your peers — the men and women who do what you do day in and day out and also understand what it takes to be successful — say some nice things about the work you’re doing. Fran’s peers were incredibly generous with their praise of Iowa’s head coach and his Hawkeyes during the annual Big Ten Conference Media Day on Thursday. You can read the Des Moines Register’s Rick Brown summary HERE. If that’s not enough to get you pumped for men’s hoops at the UI, enjoy this from the Gazette’s Scott Dochterman: HERE.

Here’s a link to the November edition of Hawk Talk Monthly: HERE. I invite you to wander through this fantastic online publication. As always, from cover to cover, it’s full of lots of great black and gold stuff.

Speaking of the Hawkeye Radio Network’s postgame show, Ed must have rattled off six or seven or eight defensive linemen who will be back on the field for the Hawkeyes next year including their “Player of the Game,” defensive end Mike Hardy, a Wisconsin native who, like the rest of the defense, did a nice job of bottling up the Badgers for the game’s first 50 minutes. My sense is that if you throw out the long runs Wisconsin got when the game was decided, you have another salty defensive effort led by senior linebacker James Morris, who paced Iowa with 12 total tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack.

Speaking of James, I don’t spend significant time around our student-athletes, so I don’t get to know too many of them on a personal level. I have brushed past James at Hy-Vee once or twice and once spotted him at a booth inside Coralville’s Olive Garden. Because the face of a football player is hidden more times than not behind the helmet and facemask, on these occasions I’m certain most of the others around probably didn’t know they were sharing space with a special young man — not because he plays linebacker for the Iowa Hawkeyes, but for all of the other reasons that in the big scheme of things, are more important: He is smart. He is respectful. He carries himself well. He speaks thoughtfully and intelligently. He is the kind of son that makes their parents proud. And, yes, he’s a pretty talented football player….and, as of Halloween, he is one of 16 finalists for the 2013 Campbell Trophy, an award that recognizes the best football scholar-athlete in the nation — the Heisman Award for those who “Win. Graduate. Do it Right.” James was one of 171 semifinalists and is now the sixth Hawkeye to be so honored by the National Football Foundation. You can read the details HERE.

Referencing, again, the postgame visit between Kirk, Gary, and Ed, our head coach noted the fact in his opening remarks that yesterday’s Heartland Trophy event was a tough, gritty Big Ten football game played in Kinnick. I don’t know Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen, but I do appreciate these remarks from him during his postgame visit with the media: “First of all, that’s a big time college football game. It’s a privilege to be a part of a game like that. There were great kids on both sides of the ball with a lot of fight and that’s what we thought it would be like.” One of our guys put a hit on the Badger quarterback that was as solid, clean and powerful as it gets. To his credit, the Badger was back at it the next time the visitors had the ball.

Congratulations to Ron Rainey’s Iowa women’s soccer team. The Hawkeyes defeated Purdue yesterday, 2-0. The win pushed the UI into the Big Ten’s postseason tournament for a third straight year and gave Iowa 13 wins thus far in 2013 — a total that ties the program’s all-time record. Rainey said his team “came in with a sense of urgency” Saturday and that was evidenced by the fact that they scored the game’s first goal 10 minutes into the first stanza. The Hawkeyes also played great defense — you can read about those details HERE — and will learn later today who they meet in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to be staged later this week at the University of Illinois.

I have to believe Ron admires the determination of Cloe Lacasse. The talented junior was Iowa’s leading scorer a year ago with 13 goals. She’s entered every game this year with a target on her back and has responded aggressively, saving her best for the last regular season game: Scoring twice yesterday in the win over Purdue — her fifth and (team-high) sixth goals of the season. Cloe will be a high priority for whomever the Hawkeyes play this week in the league tournament which means another Hawkeye — perhaps junior Katie Nasenbenny, who you can read about HERE — might have more opportunities. You can read Cloe’s bio HERE>.

Here’s a little piece on Jordan Canzeri. He showed how deep and talented our football team is at the running back position Saturday: HERE.

I enjoyed this one by Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette: HERE. I have had the opportunity to ask both Hayden and Kirk — the only two head football coaches I’ve had the opportunity to work with — about both the pregame on-field visit and the postgame handshake and the gist of their answers weren’t all that different or surprising. Both have a great sense of humor; I chuckled when I read this from Kirk, which is inside Marc’s story: “Everybody wants to read in who likes who. Sally’s dating Joey and all that stuff. It’s all silly stuff.”

Good luck today to the UI’s men’s and women’s cross country teams. They’ll be running in this year’s Big Ten Conference Championship at the Purdue University. The men’s 8,000-meter race begins at 9:45 a.m. and the women’s 6,000-meter run begins about an hour later. You can read about how they do HERE. Each team is coming off strong individual performances. You can read about those HERE.