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Sunday, October 23, 2005
Black and Gold Blowout
Despite walking against the curb-to-curb pedestrian traffic flowing out of Kinnick Stadium on my way there, I managed to slip into Carver-Hawkeye Arena just in time for tip-off of the Black and Gold Blowout. Here are a few notes -

Adam Haluska was pretty much unstoppable inside 10 feet. It's always hard to get too excited over exhibition games, but this was a nice carry-over from the end of last season. When Adam gets the ball on the block, you're pretty much guaranteed that turnaround off the backboard or two points at the line. His craftiness around the basket is part of what makes him so effective overall - when he's not shooting threes, he relies on high-percentage twos instead of 18-foot jump shots.

Greg Brunner wasn't a major factor. He's still susceptible to getting stripped when he drives the lane. It makes you wonder if his teammates just know his moves by now, or if he makes the ball that inviting to all his opponents. He did hit one three, which we should see more of this year, and he also exhibited some nice court awareness with his passing, much like he showed this summer.

Jeff Horner had the outside touch going for him, and I think he led all scorers with over 20 points (I haven't seen a box score yet). He had some really nice passes, too, so I'm sure he finished with a handful of assists. There were also none of the 25-foot heaves he favored so often last year.

Alex Thompson played as well as anyone on the gold team (him, Reed, Henderson, Thomas). The ball movement was generally pretty pathetic on that team, and players often had to rely on one-on-one moves to score any points. Alex had plenty of offense to offer - he had the moves inside and the jump shot outside, and was automatic at the line. He also plays with a fire that reminds fans of that Ryan Bowen-type scrappiness. If Saturday was any indication, he should be in line for a lot of minutes at both forward spots this year.

Doug Thomas had his two signature dunks and a baseline jump shot, but the novelty has kind of worn off for me. He's still one of the Big Ten's best rebounders, so he'll find his way onto the court.

Erek Hansen actually looked marginally thicker when he took the court, but he still looked as uncoordinated as ever, dropping passes and booting balls out of bounds.

Mike Henderson probably ended up with a decent point total, but his point guard skills are still rather unremarkable. He rarely puts his teammates in a good/better position for a shot, and the offense stalls when he gets the ball on the perimeter and starts dribbling. His ballfake seems to work, though, as it got him an open jump shot at least twice.

Tony Freeman didn't have a lot of opportunities to contribute, since he played with Haluska, Brunner, and Horner, but he did put in a few fastbreak layups. I remember one bad pass where he tried to hit a wing that was too far away, so the defender stepped in a took it the other way, but there weren't a lot of mistakes from the freshman.

Carlton Reed is probably as quick as anyone, but he just doesn't seem like he'll be an effective scorer anytime soon. He never gets a shot inside 15 feet, so his game will be reliant on his streaky shooting.

Seth Gorney looked winded pretty early on and couldn't do much of anything offensively.

And if you're still reading, the Black team won, though that was pretty much assumed going in. Next game is the exhibition opener on November 3 against Brock University of Canada.

Update - I guess Brunner and Thomas played better than I first thought. A quick scan of the box score reveals that both had double-doubles, though Doug did have five turnovers. Alford had plenty of postive words for Thompson and Thomas after the game, via Hawk Central.
Sorry to hear that your love affair with Doug Thomas might be ending. It is likely that Hansen's still-pathetic rebounding will translate into plenty of minutes for Thunder Doug.

I am really glad to hear some early praise of Alex Thompson, since he is more of the Hawks I'm looking forward to seeing the most this year.
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