Attendance and ticket sales continue their freefall of the past few seasons. Sales were great as recently as 2001, when Iowa sold out all 16 home games. They fell off a little the next, and even more in 2003, until last year, when attendance was the lowest ever at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (opened in 1983), breaking the previous record low set in, sad to say, 2003. Not that it's a crisis - overall attendance was still 6th in the Big Ten last year, and 24th nationally.
Student ticket sales have dropped even more remarkably. For those not familiar, Iowa's Hawks Nest was a section designated for student season ticket holders who paid a premium above ticket prices to be members. From Hawkeye Central:
The Hawks Nest held as many as 2,800 students when it was first instituted a few
years ago and has lost numbers ever since. Last year 625 students were members,
down from 900 the year before. Hawks Nest members had to commit by October, one
of the problems in trying to fill up the area.
The Hawks Nest has since dropped its exclusivity, and any student buying season tickets can be a member. Yet student season ticket sales are down to 353 this year. At least I shouldn't have any trouble finding a seat at games this year.
* * * Warning: Short Rant Ahead * * *
Something that bothered me from the last article:
Trail also said the marketing department is designating certain non-conference
days in honor of Iowa players and placing ads in their hometown newspapers. For
example, it will be Jeff Horner day against Western Illinois and fans in the
Mason City area have been solicited through local media to purchase tickets to
I know most people would hardly think twice about that situation and merely accept it as part of modern college sports, but I view it as a rather blatant exploitation of the players. The school markets the likeness of each player to sell more tickets and bring in more revenue for the university, while the player receives nothing and has no say in the matter. To me, most of the players in big time college basketball and football programs deserve something far more than the scholarships they get. I don't know what they should get yet, or if there should be some kind of payment system, but I think the current system is pretty ridiculous.
Andrew Zimbalist, an economist, wrote a very interesting book a while back called Unpaid Professionals : Commercialism and Conflict in Big-time College Sports. At one point he compared the average value of the scholarships and benefits that male college football and basketball players receive to the number of hours they put into their school's program. He came to the conclusion that these athletes were/are essentially working for around minimum wage for a few years, then leaving to a system where they earned something much closer to what they deserve (professional sports), or going nowhere, since the majority of them finished their college career with nothing close to an education. What a cash cow! Schools have these laborers who earn next to nothing, yet bring in millions and millions of dollars for their athletic departments, money that can be put to use overpaying head coaches or building bigger and better facilities to attract better recruits to make even more money.
Ok, rant over.
For you local patrons of the ICPL, there's a copy of Zimbalist's book available! Check it out here.
Fun with Numbers
Which one of these things is not like the others?
Based on these numbers, can you determine the identity of the mystery Big Ten Players (they're all players who played in the conference last year for the same team they will play with this year)? It's admittedly difficult without knowing any further information, so I'll supply some hints.
- Player C's rebounding and steals averages - per 40 minutes, remember - led the conference. Player C's blocks average for blocks ranked fourth.
- Since we've established that we're dealing with decent rebounders and shot blockers, we'll narrow the list down to post players.
- Two of the players are members of this season's Pre-Season All-Conference Team.
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
Player A is Wisconsin senior Mike Wilkinson.
. . .
Player B is junior Paul Davis of Michigan State.
. . .
Player C is sophomore Pat Ewing Jr. from Indiana.
"Pat Ewing? He didn't do anything last year." Well, that's debatabe. While Ewing only averaged 11.8 minutes a game last year, he was damn productive when he was on the court. In only 331 minutes of playing time last year, he managed to grab 102 rebounds, 33 steals, and swat 17 shots. One might expect him to put up respectable numbers if he was given a chance to play. Indeed, in Indiana's first exhibition game, Ewing led the Hoosiers with 22 points and 9 rebounds in just 19 minutes off the bench. However, he'll have a difficult time getting many minutes this year. According to Athlon Sports, Indiana frontcourt recruits D.J. White and Robert Vaden are the 8th and 15th best college freshmen in the country, and both players started ahead of Ewing in the opening exhibition game last week.
Know Your Enemy
A good friend of mine started a blog to keep tabs on our neighbors in central Iowa. The Cyclones will face some stiff conference competition this year in Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas, but they're packing some talent of their own. As long as Curtis Stinson is on the court they'll stay in any game.
Ben chronicles the fortunes of Iowa State at Hilton Magic. It should be a good central source of information on the team that Hawkeyes love to hate.
Blog of the Day
If you think you know everything about the conference, allow the Big Ten Wonk to prove that you don't. The Wonk's intelligent analysis, exhaustive coverage, and witty commentary will put any ordinary superfan to shame.
I threw in that picture up on top to spice things up a bit. I'm viewing it with a 1024 X 738 resolution, and it fits the page well. According to the stats from Blogpatrol (the site that runs the counter in the right menu bar), most of you use the same resolution. However, I've heard that when you use different resolutions the picture will fit the screen differently (that was news to me), and the text might wrap around the picture and look a little goofy. Let me know if the picture looks crappy from your end or is distracting or anything else by leaving a comment or by emailing me. Thanks.
Alford Knocks Out DI Reporter
Coach Alford shows off his flawless jump shot and follows up with an interview with Daily Iowan reporter Nick Richards. Steve talks about the staleness of repeated intra-squad scrimmages, keeping the yoga program going, and associate head coach Craig Neal.
Odds and Ends
Iowa signed Tony Freeman, a 5'11" point guard from St. Joseph's high school in Westchester, Illinois. He averaged 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game as a junior last year.
The Quad City Times reports that the Hawkeyes also signed Kurt Looby:
Hawkeye Nation claims Looby "is a raw prospect offensively, but possesses NBA athletic ability."
A native of the St. John’s Antigua, Looby is ranked as the eighth-best
junior college sophomore center in the country this season by talent scout Van
Coleman, but he is just in his second year of organized basketball and has
gained almost 30 pounds since arriving in Texas a little over a year ago.
“He’s a shot blocker who runs the floor well and has above average athletic
ability,’’ Marquis said. “Iowa plans to redshirt him next year, which is what he needs.
He’s on the verge of becoming something special, and time will only help
Quote of the day, from juco transfer Doug Thomas: "I just look forward to being the Ben Wallace - the beast, getting the dunk, the occasional rebound or good play and get my teammates involved. I'm not a selfish person, if I get my points I get my points, but I'm looking to get my teammates in the game."
As if I needed any more reason to like this guy.
Iowa 84, Upper Iowa 43
No big surprise on the final score, but Upper Iowa did come out strong. The Peacocks were leading Iowa 15-13 with about 8:30 to go in the first half before Iowa remembered they were the better team and put the clamps down on defense. The Hawks surged ahead with a 20-0 run that put the game out of reach. Their defense fueled that run - Iowa picked up the intensity on D and Upper Iowa had a hell of a time passing without getting the ball deflected or swiped out of their hands, as evidenced by Iowa's 19 steals in the game.
Five Hawkeyes hit double figures in scoring, led by Pierre Pierce's 19. His line also included a team-high 8 assists to go with 3 steals. Greg Brunner bounced back from an off game in the Blowout to post 11 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals in only 22 minutes. Doug Thomas also had a big game, going for 16 points and 8 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action. The other leading scorers were backup guards Mike Henderson with 11 and Carlton Reed, who chipped in 2 three-pointers, with 10. Jeff Horner didn't take many shots but finished with 7 assists.
- Pierce had the biggest game, but Thomas's effort was the most exciting. The height of crowd noise coincided with his thunderous dunks. Thomas put down two alley-oops and hammered home a left-handed dunk on a fast break. He likely would have dunked on two other fast breaks, but he was fouled on one chance and Pierce led him too much with a pass on the other. Brunner and Erek Hansen are slated to start in Iowa's frontcourt, so it should be interesting to see where Thomas fits into the picture and how much playing time he can find.
- Hansen's numbers weren't overwhelming tonight (4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks), but you have to like his style of play. He was attacking the basket whenever he got the ball - none of that timidity we saw from him last year. He even knocked down an 18-footer to further improve his image in at least one fan's mind.
- Reed looked good again. He knocked down a couple threes and came away with 4 steals. Iowa's backcourt is deep and talented, with five guys that should see plenty of minutes, and they're all capable of helping the team offensively.
- Ugh. Iowa hit only 7 of 17 free throws. The main culprits were Pierce (4-7), Henderson (0-2), Thomas (2-4), and Alex Thompson (0-2). I really hope we don't have to endure another season of awful free throw shooting.
- Quite a few Peacock fans made the 100 mile drive down from Fayette. In fact, I'd say they made more noise throughout the first half than those clad in black and old gold, especially when UIU was keeping pace the first 11 minutes of the game.
- Things I hate: (1) freshmen girls who call all the players by their first name (e.g., oooohh nice pass Mikey....don't shoot that Carlton!). (2) Our cheerleaders.
- Outside of Thomas's big dunks, I think my favorite moment of the night was when UIU's John Banks went to the free throw line in the second half. He was having a pretty rough night (he ended up shooting 5-17), and when he stepped to the stripe it was quiet enough for him to hear some 12 year old kids heckling him with the kind of unintelligent comments that entertain 12 year olds trying to impress their friends but annoy the hell out of everyone else (run-on sentence alert!). He knocked down the first free throw, then turned and gave the kids a wink and a smile. It was cool that he was still having fun with his team down 40 points, but it was even better to get those kids to shut up.
Iowa plays their first exhibition game at home Wednesday night against Upper Iowa University. The Peacocks, located in Fayette, are a Division II team that finished 10-15 last year. I don't know much about the current state of UIU's program, but I do remember attending a few of their basketball camps when I was younger. Current head coach Dave Martin was an assistant to Stu Engen (now at Minnesota State Moorhead) back then. Martin ran the defensive drills, and had a reputation as a real hardass. To me, he was one of those guys who you hated while he was yelling at you during practice, but who you ended up appreciating later on because he got you to put forth your best. Maybe that's not much different than most coaches; I don't really know, I threw in the towel on my basketball career pretty early.
Ok, irrelevant tangents aside, no one is expecting a close game. What we are excited for is a chance to see 40 minutes of Iowa running up and down the court against players not wearing black and gold, another chance to assess where our players are at, and evidence that our optimism for this season is rightly founded. It's an opportunity for Erek Hansen to further impress me with his improvements, for Pierre Pierce to fill up the box score against helpless defenders, and hopefully for the new guys like Doug Thomas, Carlton Reed, and Alex Thompson to start proving they deserve playing time later in the year.
Adam Haluska and Seth Gorney will be sitting out the game. Haluska could be back for Sunday's game against Laval University of Canada. Mike Henderson will take Haluska's spot and join Hansen, Pierce, Greg Brunner, and Jeff Horner in the starting lineup.
Game starts at 7:05. See you there!
Some highlights from Coach Alford's press conference on Monday:
"I think that's the area where we have the furthest to go," he said. "The two
areas that concerned us the most are our transition defense and our man-to-man
defense. Those were our two most glaring weaknesses on tape, and we're going to
spend a lot of time on those in the next two weeks."
"Of the bigs, Erek was the most impressive, without question, hands down, in our
scrimmage," Alford said. "Erek had six blocks, but the thing that impressed me
the most in the practice was that he had 15 rebounds, and that's been a
Another comment I found interesting:
As far as his line is concerned, Hansen says he feels he could hit
double-doubles along with up to half a dozen blocks each game.
"That's what I'm shooting for," he said. "I've never been that strong at rebounding, so I've been trying to pick that up. I'd like to get my rebounds to about 10 a game and maybe 10 points a game."
I'll leave the double-double open to speculation, but I'd like to comment on the blocks. Six blocks a game sounds like a lot, but it's not too far-fetched. Consider this: Hansen played 253 minutes last year, during which he swatted 40 shots. At that rate (.158 blocks/minute), he would have to play 38 minutes to get those 6 blocks. If he comes anywhere close to that rate, he should easily lead the conference. Last year's leader, Courtney Sims of Michigan, blocked 68 shots in 750 minutes, or .091 blocks/minute, and averaged 2 blocks per game.
If Hansen plays in 30 games and averages 25 minutes per game, and maintains that rate from last year, he'd end up with roughly 119 blocks. Iowa's season record of 121, set by Acie Earl in the 1991-92 season, is within reach. Should be fun to keep track of.
Might Want to Read...
Hawkeye Nation has brief interviews with Pierre Pierce and Jeff Horner.
Top Big Ten Returners
Just wanted to make a quick post today to draw up a few lists of the Big Ten's leading returners in points, rebounds, and assists.
|3||Paul Davis||Michigan State||15.8|
|6||Chris Hill||Michigan State||13.8|
|7||Tony Stockman||Ohio State||13.6|
|8||Marlon Smith||Penn State||13.4|
|4||Terence Dials||Ohio State||6.6|
|5||Aaron Johnson||Penn State||6.5|
|6||Paul Davis||Michigan State||6.2|
|4||Ben Luber||Penn State||4.1|
|7||Chris Hill||Michigan State||3.9|
|10||Alan Anderson||Michigan State||3.2|
1. Iowa's Pierre Pierce is the only returning player among the top ten in each category.
2. I left out Wisconsin's Alando Tucker because he only played in four games. His averages would have made the points and rebounds lists.
3. I like lists. Just a warning.
Alford talks about B&G Blowout
Coach Alford had a few things to say about his team's play in their intra-squad scrimmage this weekend, in an article that included this:
Despite limited numbers, the Hawkeyes kept the tempo brisk.
“The transition game is something we ran going into our Australian trip
(prior to the 2003-04 season), and we’ve made a few adjustments out of that to
run it into our halfcourt stuff,” Alford said. “Today, I think a little fatigue
set in, and that showed in our second-half shooting numbers, but it’s something
we hope to do more of.”
Sounds good. I think the roster is well-built for an up-tempo style, with quick, athletic guys like Haluska, Pierce, Henderson and Thomas taking passes in transition from Horner. Their depth won't hurt either. I guess we'll learn a little more on Wednesday.
The First of Many?
I'm sure many Hawkeye fans could get used
to seeing this from high-flying transfer Doug
At one point this weekend I posted something about adding pictures that I took at the scrimmage. I did manage to snap a few shots before the game started, but keep in mind that (1) my photography skills are quite raw, and (2) my camera is nothing special. This post basically amounts to me trying to learn how to post pictures, and I'm hoping to make use of that knowledge in the future. Don't be shy - if the shots are too big or take too long to load or you really like them or whatever, you can email me or leave a comment after the post.
Welcome New Readers
I'd like to express a big thank you to Yoni at his College Basketball Blog for linking to this site and for mentioning Hawkeye Hoops in his blog yesterday. If you've come across my blog from somewhere other than his link, make sure you check out his great site for frequently updated news and commentary on college hoops. You'll also find links to blogs about other teams on the right side of this page. They're all worth a look, and I'm hoping to add plenty more to the list in the near future.