Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

Jan. 21, 2014

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

And it’s another important Sunday for the good guys in black and gold with back-to-back appearances on BTN. At noon, Fran McCaffery’s squad looks to keep it rolling when it entertains Minnesota on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. At 2, it’s Lisa Bluder’s Bunch at Ohio State. A pair of wins would be a great way to start the week…


A week ago I wrote a little about 3-pointers and how they might impact the game with the Buckeyes. Watch for them again today when the Gophers have the ball. It’s possible it could appear as if it’s raining 3’s. The Gophers will enter the game second in the Big Ten to only Northwestern in 3-point attempts. They’ll be the league-leader with something like 417 total for the year when the final buzzer sounds. Iowa enters the game with 268 attempts from behind the arc. Fran’s squad clearly prefers layups and dunks. You can study the league stats HERE.

So much for all that chatter that Wisconsin, blessed with a talented team and a forgiving schedule, would walk to the 2014 Big Ten Conference regular season men’s basketball title. Yesterday’s loss to Michigan at home was the second in a row for the Badgers. While I’ve grown tired to regularly hear that “it’s a journey,” it’s a simple fact that the regular season for Big Ten hoops is a long one and that one thing is for certain: there will be upsets.

Iowa’s men’s and women’s track and field teams opened their indoor seasons with a bang yesterday. You can read about it HERE. And you can watch the video HERE…where you can also watch some video of the pair of victories by Iowa’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.

If you didn’t read my colleague James Allan’s story yesterday on Melsahn, click HERE. Melsahn might be experiencing a senior season that he’ll look back on and smile very wide about: He’s playing strong and steady — “I think what you’re seeing is a guy who is really comfortable right now,” Fran said earlier this week — on a team that appears destined for an opportunity to participate in March Madness…a far cry from where they were when the New Yorker first set foot on campus four years ago and an accomplishment that Melsahn and a large handful of others will be able to take great pride in having played a pretty important role in achieving.

You can read more of what Fran had to say at his weekly visit with the media HERE.

There’s been a little chatter about whether fans of “blue-blood programs” like Indiana’s should storm the court after a big win (the Hoosiers were the first team this week to beat then previously unbeaten Wisconsin). It’s a nightmare administratively, primarily, for fears of someone getting hurt, but, at the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of college kids having fun.

Iowa’s men’s and women’s track and field teams opened their indoor seasons with a bang yesterday. You can read about it HERE. And you can watch the video HERE…where you can also watch some video of the pair of victories by Iowa’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.

Not so long ago, as he raced out of Iowa City, Steve Alford told the national media that was chasing him that Iowa a “football school.” This week, Ohio State graduate and former Buckeye quarterback and current ABC/ESPN college football super analyst Kirk Herbstreit tweeted the Big Ten offers some lame football atmospheres before declaring the “B1G” has become a “basketball conference.” To Alford and anyone else who asked, I always suggested that the UI was a football school, a basketball school, a wrestling school, and on and on. To Herbie, I’d suggest that our conference is the same: A football conference, a basketball conference, a wrestling conference, and on and on…with pretty good environments when the events on the fields, courts, mats, and so on warranted. I’ve said it before. It’s not an either/or. In the Big Ten, you can have your cake and eat it, too.

I enjoyed these statistical breakdowns of the football Hawkeyes’ 2014 season by Gazette’s Marc Morehouse: HERE and HERE. I’ll boil it down to this: We were better on offense and much better on defense and we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot — fewer penalties — all of which, by the way, are a product of superior coaching.

There’s not much I can add to the outpouring of love and affection and appreciation for Norm Parker. A special guy for lots of good reasons and many of those had nothing to do with how good he was as a football coach. This story about Norm made the rounds shortly after his retirement: HERE. It seems appropriate to share it again.

I looked at last week’s wrestling dual with Oklahoma State as the first glimpse at what we’d likely see of Tom Brands’ team in March. The next glimpse comes Saturday when No. 2 ranked Minnesota visits Carver at 1 p.m. Do you have your tickets yet? If not, you can purchase them HERE. And, by the way, Nebraska was unbeaten until yesterday’s visit by the Hawkeyes. You can read about that win HERE.

Lastly, a tip of the lid in three directions: First, to you, the fan of the Hawkeyes, for making regular stops to hawkeyesports.com, the official world wide web site of the Iowa Hawkeyes: HERE. You must enjoy what you have access to because traffic measured in terms of pages downloaded — 2,765,409 pages to be exact — to the center of our digital universe in December 2013 was the busiest for the month of December its ever been in the 11-year history of the site. December 2013 was also the busiest month for hawkeyesports.com since September 2011 and, most impressively, had more pages downloaded than the web sites for the national champion in football (Florida State) and this year’s Rose Bowl champion (Michigan State). Second, to the staff that creates all that great editorial, photographic, and video content. And, third, to the coaches and student-athletes who are the subjects of that content.

The numbers above don’t include record-setting traffic inside Hawkeye All-Access, our multimedia portal: HERE. There’s lots of good stuff inside there, too.

Go Hawks!