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Sunday, December 19, 2004
Iowa 88, Western Carolina 75
Since I paid about $11 per game for my basketball tickets, and since I question whether I got my money's worth after yesterday's game, I wonder how many fans were satisfied with their $20 and $26 dollar purchases. To an Iowa fan, or to anyone who enjoys clean, fundamentally sound basketball, this game was generally not pretty.

WCU shot 1-13 in getting into an early 22-3 hole. Several of those shots came in the paint and didn't even draw rim. Just ugly basketball. With Iowa leading 24-5 heading into the 8:00 TV timeout, I was starting to wonder if this box score would stick out from the sports page the way Oklahoma State's 81-29 victory over Washington State had earlier this year. It was brutal to watch their total ineptness on offense, and several Iowa student hecklers verbalized their displeasure in choosing this game over a couple extra hours downtown.

Things were different after that timeout. WCU went on to score 70 points in the remaining 28 minutes, a pace that projects to 100 points over a full 40 minutes. Iowa's offense, which had been centered on throwing a 3/4 court pass Pierre Pierce off of Catamount turnovers and missed shots, disappeared for the rest of the first half. WCU's aggressive mand to man defense gave the Hawkeyes fits, and their lead was trimmed to seven points. They took a 32-25 lead into half time.

At that point, while Iowa's "Golden Girl" performed her baton-twirling routine (which was very good, by the way), you had to figure Coach Alford was screaming himself hoarse in the locker room. He confirmed that suspicion in the post-game press conference (from DM Register) -

I did more than snap at Jeff and Pierre,'' Alford said. "I did not like the way
we played from the 8-minute mark on. A lot of it had to do with those two.
Sometimes you have to send that message, even to your best players.''
Iowa responded with a good run to start the second half, and their lead was never really challenged the rest of the way. The defense left a lot to be desired, though, as WCU was able to score 50 second half points. Some credit should go to WCU's perimiter shooting - despite only hitting 28% of their threes coming into the game, they were able to knock down 12 of 24 yesterday. All in all, it wasn't a great effort from Iowa, but I'm willing to chalk it up to the 8-day layoff and the finals week fatigue, forget about it, and move on to the big game against Texas Tech on Tuesday.

Game Notes

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