Saturday, December 11, 2004
Iowa 70, Iowa State 63
Iowa wins the state championship! I get the feeling that Iowa residents were satisfied with the 1-2-3 finish of Iowa, UNI, and Iowa State, since that mirrors the number of Iowa players on each team. The Hawks have 8 on their roster, while UNI has 7 and Iowa State just 3 (Drake has 5, but I don't know many Iowans who align their rooting interest with the Bulldogs' fortunes). By the way, my apologies for taking forever to get this post up. I spent as much time at my final on Friday as I did in bed in the night before, and after the mandatory post-game trip to Old Chicago, sleep was the only thing on my mind.
Everyone is no doubt aware that this was Adam Haluska's first game against the team that he transferred away from after Larry Eustachy resigned from his coaching duties. He played very well last night, even earning Hawkeye Hoops Player of the Game, but I don't want to parrot everything that's already been said by the Quad City Times and Des Moines Register, or even the AP's Chuck Schoffner. Suffice it to say that Haluska was the offensive bright spot in a game that featured a lot of tough defense and missed shots.
- Iowa and Iowa State combined to miss 77 shots and shoot 37% for the game. Some of the main miss-the-marksmen were: Pierre Pierce, 6-18, Curtis Stinson, 5-15, Will Blalock, 7-19, and somewhat surprisingly, Greg Brunner, 3-11.
- Iowa came into the game shooting 44% on their threes, but only managed to shoot 4-17 last night, with all four makes coming from Haluska.
- Iowa's interior defense gave up another big game, albeit to a very talented Jared Homan, recently rated as the best center in the country by CBS SportsLine (for what that's worth). Homan finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Also recall UNI's Eric Coleman's 16 and 11, Drake's Aliou Keita's 23 and 7, and Centenary's Chad Maclies's 21 and 6, among others.
- Erek Hansen made a big contribution on defense with a career high 7 blocks. In addition to that, he changed the directions of a lot of those driving shots from Stinson and Blalock. He should make a good run at Acie Earl's team record for blocks in a season, despite only averaging 23.5 mpg. Everyone talks about Hansen having such a "breakout" year, but I can only agree with that on the offensive end. His pts / 40 min is more than double last year's rate, but his blk / 40 min is about the same and his reb / 40 min has actually dropped, from 7.3 to 5.1.
- Iowa State relied on three players - Stinson, Blalock, and Homan - for the bulk of their scoring. The trio took 82% of ISU's shots and scored 86% of its points. Luckily for Iowa, ISU only had two of those options down the stretch, as Stinson fouled out with about 8 minutes left and only played 28 minutes total.
- Alford was talking on the radio about how he got after Brunner for only leading Jeff Horner by one for the team's season rebound lead. Brunner looked like he was out to prove himself last night, getting to all kinds of caroms and leading all players with 13 rebounds. One unrelated request, Greg: I know parking is impossible in Iowa City, but can you back your car up a little? It's partially blocking our driveway.
- Well, I was disappointed that Carver-Hawkeye wasn't sold out for what's typically the biggest home game of the year, at least in the non-conference schedule (although it was just a couple hundred short), but it was nice to see some students distibuted sheets with chants for the student section to use during the game. The "Thanks for Adam" chant got mentioned in at least a couple newspaper articles.
- Two indications of which sport reigns supreme in this city - (1) the loudest the crowd got all night was for the halftime introduction of head football coach Kirk Ferentz, in recognition of his leading the team to another New Year's Day bowl game. (By the way, do we have to constantly refer to the team as Big Ten champs? Isn't the Big Ten champ going to the Rose Bowl? I seem to remember a certain 30-17 thumping in Ann Arbor a while back. Just curious; I don't really follow football.) (2) After the "Thanks for Adam" chant, the most popular was "Let's kick field goals," a jab at Iowa State's special teams ineptitude that cost them a berth in the Big XII title game.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Herky vs. Cy
Ben at Hilton Magic has an accurate rundown of typical arguments Iowa and ISU fans get into, including this gem:
Cy: Iowa's fans are all 80 years old and wearing the same polyester jacketThat so perfectly fits my perception of some fans that I seriously can't stop laughing. Cheers to youthful arrogance!
they bought before the 1980 Rose Bowl.
Note to the Nerds
A guest-blogger at Yoni Cohen's College Basketball Blog recently commented on some interesting issues regarding statistical analysis in college basketball. If you're interested in that kind of stuff, check out posts one and two.
Also recommended are Ken Pomeroy's site, Blah blah blah, his excellent team ratings, and Dean Oliver's (no, not that Dean Oliver. . . the smart one) primer on a few advanced basketball stats (nothing too complicated, I promise).
I've been reading a bit on stats-related stuff lately and I'll try to incorporate what I learn into future posts.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Iowa 76, Northern Iowa 73
Finally, an exciting home game! Iowa looked like they were getting ready to put the exlamation point on a win over a talented UNI team, right up until the offense went stale in the second half and the Panthers' shooters got hot. Before you knew it, UNI held the ball with 18 seconds on the clock and only a one point deficit. The clear go-to option was Ben Jacobsen, who had been draining shots of various difficulty all game. UNI got him the ball, but Pierre Pierce was shadowing every step he took, and Jacobsen missed a tough jumper. Iowa's Jeff Horner ended up on the floor with his ninth rebound of the game and a referee signaling a foul on UNI. Horner went to the line to shoot a 1-and-1 with 4.5 seconds left. He calmly dropped in both shots. Whew, three point cushion. UNI could only get off a half-court shot, but it rim and had everyone holding their breath. The way the game had gone back and forth, I doubt many people would have been surprised if it the shot had dropped.
In a game that was hyped for all the talented guards involved, it was the big men that repeatedly came through. UNI's Eric Coleman finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists. For Iowa it was Erek Hansen hitting his first six shots early, including a three-pointer, en route to a 13 point first half, and Greg Brunner carrying the team with 12 points in a three or four minute stretch in the second half. Brunner finished with a team-high 23 points.
- Greg Brunner - you can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him! That might be laying it on a little thick for a guy averaging 13.6 points a game, but when your big man takes charge of the second half, even stepping out to knock down a couple treys in a close game, it's easy to get excited. I wish more people in Iowa City could get excited about this team, but we'll get to that. Brooooner scored almost anytime he got the ball down low, hitting 10 of his 13 field goals. Move over Doug Thomas, this team has a new FG% leader - Brunner is now hitting 63% of his shots.
- Iowa officially has three team captains in juniors Pierce, Horner, and Brunner, but this is fast-becoming Horner's team. He carried the Hawks to the two big wins in Maui and seems to do everything on the court, especially in crunch time. His rebound and FTs were of course huge, and another play stood out for me tonight. After Iowa let a 11 point lead fall to 3 by not making a FG for 4 and a half minutes late in the second half, Horner's top of the key three put Iowa back up six with 1:33 to go. The offense looked lost in that stretch, and every shot UNI hit frustrated the crowd a little more. Horner's three got everyone back off their seats. He finished the night with 16 points, nine rebounds, and four more 3-pointers.
- Adam Haluska had a quiet night and only scored five points. I thought he had a chance to overcome the drought and to also expedite Hawkeye fans' acceptance of him when he went to the free throw line with 25 seconds left. Haluska was shooting a 1-and-1 after UNI hit a 3 to close the score to 74-73. Too bad though, he missed the first shot and UNI got the ball back.
- Until Pete Schmitt hit a 3 with 10:10 left in the game, only three Panther players had managed to score. One of the 0-fers was Erik Crawford. The Missouri Valley Conference's leading scorer was limited to nine points.
- Iowa was hot again from downtown, hitting 10-18 threes. That makes them 21-37 in the last two games and 44% on the season.
- I don't have any numbers to back it up, but suffice it to say I thought Pierce and Mike Henderson did a great job defending some excellent scoring threats.
- This was generally an aesthetically pleasing game - both teams shot over 50%, they combined for only 15 turnovers, and the refs only called 28 fouls.
- Is anyone going to show up for Iowa games this year? Let's recap things tonight - we're ranked #17 in the country and have beaten two very good teams. We're playing UNI who 1) is less than 90 minutes away, 2) was the only team in the state to make the NCAA tournament last year, 3) recently crushed Iowa State and 4) took Cincinnati to double-overtime on the road. So, our team is talented, our opponent is talented and nearby, and we reach......2/3 capacity? Ugh, that's right, there were 10, 349 people in Carver-Hawkeye tonight. And it wasn't all black and gold - you could hear chants of U-N-I under the Let's-Go-Hawks. I went up to the concourse 5-10 minutes before tip-off to make a phone call, and from up there the student section looked maybe 1/3 full. Unacceptable. Ticket prices do seem high relative to other schools, but don't overlook that a lot of other schools subsidize student tickets by charging all students with a hefty athletic fee, which Iowa does not. Anyway, Iowa State comes to town Friday night, so let's hope there's a few more people in attendance.
- Note to the band - you're killing the fight song. Yes, people in the student section stand up and clap for it, but did you not notice that they stand up for the entire game? The rest of the crowd - the people you're not reaching - doesn't stand up for it because you play the song at nearly every time out in the second half. Tonight was ridiculous - you squeezed it into every :30 timeout and break in the action down the stretch. I can say with certainty that it was played at least 5 times in the last 10 minutes of the game. Here's how smart schools handle this situation - they play the fight song sparingly. That way, alumni and older fans are willing to stand up and clap because they only have to do it two or three times a game. Once this pattern is established, the fight song becomes a good strategic tool - you play it during a timeout near the end of a close game, everyone stands up and does their thing, and....wait for it...when the team comes onto the court after the timeout, you have the whole building on their feet. It's amazing how much more people will get into the game when they're standing. Like I said, this move is best saved for the end of the game. And no, I'm not blind to the irony of a guy complaining about school spirit (no one coming to the games) who claims that the fight song is overplayed.
Monday, December 06, 2004
New AP Poll
AP voters apparently see Iowa as the second best team in the Big Ten right now, as they were placed ahead of both Michigan State and Wisconsin in the new poll. Iowa still trails Illinois, who vaulted from #5 last week to top the chart this week after a big win over Wake Forest.
20. Michigan State
Michigan received three votes and Indiana drew the sympathy of a single voter.
The Hawkeyes remain behind two teams they beat on consecutive days - #13 Louisville and #14 Texas. The lone loss on Iowa's 6-1 record was to now-#8 North Carolina.
Before the season, I certainly doubted Iowa could finish second in the conference. The results so far make them look like more and more of a contender. While there is still plenty of basketball to be played, Iowa's favorable schedule won't hinder their quest to knock off the early season powers in Madison and East Lansing.