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Monday, November 14, 2005
Iowa 86, Maryland-Eastern Shore 41
The journey to Kansas City begins with a single step. Or a major stomping. Or something like that.

The Hawkeyes got their season started on the right foot with an easy win against a team that was one of Division I's worst the past two years, and will advance to the second round of the Guardian's Classic. They'll play Colgate tonight, and a win will earn them a trip to KC to face #9 Kentucky.

Iowa's offense came out slow last night, but the defense played strong enough all game that the Hawkeyes didn't need much scoring punch anyway. Iowa only came away with four points on its first nine trips down the floor, but their defensive intensity and UMES's inexperience ensured that Iowa never trailed.

Senior forward Doug Thomas and freshman guard Tony Freeman came off the bench early in the game and sparked a 19-8 run and opened a lead that continued to grow throughout the contest. The two hooked up late in the first half on the play game. Freeman stole a pass, then led a 4-on-2 fast break the other way. Seeing that he had Thomas trailing, Freeman underhanded a pass off the backboard from the right elbow, which Thomas caught in midair and hammered home. I've never heard that small of a crowd (announced as 8,000+) make so much noise. Iowa took a 44-20 lead into halftime.

The shooting only got better in the second half, both offensively and defensively. Iowa hit 60% of their field goals and held UMES to 27% shooting in the final 20 minutes. The big men were a major reason for the efficiency - Greg Brunner, Thomas, Erek Hansen, and Seth Gorney combined to shoot 15 of 21 for the game. With the outcome never in doubt, Coach Alford was able to give double-digit minutes to nine of his players, and five of them scored at least 10 points.

Notes and Thoughts

Other recaps available at the DM Register, IC Press-Citizen, QC Times, and Daily Iowan.
Box score.
Obviously beating Maryland-Eastern Shore doesn't mean a whole lot but that was fun regardless. I'll be interested to see how the team looks once they get some real competition. There were lots of missed shots early, some embarassingly close to the basket, but that's probably to be expected this early on; I doubt it will continue. Bru and Horner were good as always. Doug Thomas looked excellent and I don't think I'll ever get sick of watching him dunk. Tony Freeman looks like he has a bright future ahead of him. I could see him taking over for Henderson as a starter before season's end, which is probably in the best interests of both players. Mike is fine as a change of pace defensive guy off the bench, teams need those kinds of guys to win, but I'm a bit uneasy with him as the starter.
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