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Archive for November, 2011

Iowa-Creighton showcased instate talent

Monday, November 21st, 2011

The usual thinking is that Iowa high school basketball is not all that great, at least compared to the brand of ball that is played in some other Midwest states.

Most experts will tell you it’s OK to have one or two Iowa kids on the roster, but you couldn’t ever assemble a quality team comprised completely of kids from the state.

If you watched much of Sunday’s game between Iowa and Creighton at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, you know that’s hogwash.

The game, won decidedly by Creighton 82-59, was a showcase for instate talent. Iowa-grown kids combined to score nearly half the points collected by the two teams (69 of 141).

Doug McDermott (Ames) led Creighton with 25 points and nine rebounds and Grant Gibbs (Linn-Mar) added five points, eight rebounds and six assists. The only other Iowan on the Blue Jays’ roster, Will Artino (Waukee), scored six points in just 10 minutes of action.

Iowa’s top two scorers were Josh Oglesby (Cedar Rapids) with 14 and Matt Gatens (Iowa City) with 13 while Eric May (Dubuque) contributed six points and six rebounds. Gatens and May are the Hawkeyes’ top two scorers for the season.

So, if you took all those guys and packaged them with North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes (Ames) and maybe Drake’s Seth Van Deest (Bettendorf) to give you a little added size, what would you have? It probably would be a team that could play with anyone in the country.

McDermott, who played on the same high school team with Barnes, was especially impressive Sunday for those of us who haven’t seen him play that often. At 6-foot-7, he can play pretty much anywhere on the court and do just about everything you’d want a player to do.

“I’ve seen very few players who are as comfortable both in the post and on the perimeter …’’ Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

Freshmen hard to gauge so far

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

It’s too early to form any concrete opinions about Iowa’s incoming freshman class.

Based on the first game,, against Chicago State, Iowa fans would be giddy over what they can ex-pect to see of Aaron White, Josh Oglesby and Gabe Olaseni. Their combined totals for that game: 31 points and 16 rebounds in 46 minutes.

In game 2 against North Carolina A&T: 2 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes.

Olaseni didn’t even play in that game because coach Fran McCaffery worried how the 6-foot-10 England native would deal with A&T’s frenetic pressure defense. White didn’t handle it all that well, scoring just two points after debuting with a 19-point, 10 rebound effort. McCaffery later said he regretted not using Oglesby and White more in that contest just to expose them to that sort of game.

As good as White looked in that first game, don’t be surprised if Oglesby ends up being the one who makes the largest impact this season.

The Cedar Rapids Washington grad has yet to show the perimeter shooting skills he is expected to provide – he is 1 for 8 from 3-point range – but he has looked very calm and controlled. He has dealt out six assists and turned the ball over just once.

And McCaffery knows the kid is going to start hitting shots. He’s most concerned with making sure he keeps launching shots.

“I screamed at him ‘You’re not shooting’ a couple of times when he didn’t take a shot the other night …’’ McCaffery said. “You’ve got to have amnesia. If you miss the first three, then make the next three. If you miss four, make the next four. It’s difficult for him because he’s never been that kind of player.

“When he’s open he’s got the green light,’’ McCaffery added. “I don’t want him even thinking about it. I don’t care if he’s missed 10 in a row; take the 11th.’’

Fans already love Aaron White

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Iowa basketball fans are going to like this Aaron White kid. Just one game into his college career, that already is obvious.

White debuted Friday night with a 19-point, 10-rebound performance against Chicago State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. As far as Iowa officials can tell, it’s the highest scoring total ever by a Hawkeye freshman in his first game and it’s the first time an Iowa player has debuted with a double-double since Jess Settles did it in 1993.

But the performance was more workmanlike than spectacular. White isn’t the kind oif player who is going to scare opponents when he steps on the court. He’s a fairly average looking 6-foot-8 kid who doesn’t seem to possess great quickness and exceptional leaping ability. He just works very hard and seems to do everything right. He has tremendous instincts and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

You can tell Iowa fans already have taken a liking to him. The kid got a standing ovation when he left the game Friday.

It remains to be seen exactly what White’s role will be as the season unfolds. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him get his first career start Monday against North Carolina A&T since senior Devon Archie doesn’t really provide the Hawkeyes with much at either end of the court. But once senior Andrew Brommer gets healthy, he probably will take over as the starting center, leaving the Hawkeyes free to use White as a jolt of instant energy off the bench. However they use him, the kid already is well on his way to becoming a fan favorite.

 

 

Too early to know about Hawks

Friday, November 11th, 2011

With the start of Iowa’s basketball season just a few hours away, many people are asking: How many games will the Hawkeyes win this season?

It’s too early to really give an educated answer to that question, especially since I was just thrust back into the Hawkeye basketball beat within the past week. My answer for now would be: More than last year.

There clearly is some talent on this team and a wealth of experience, more than most college basketball programs have. How all that translates into on-court success will depend on injuries, consistency, quality of opposition and a myriad of other factors that aren’t yet clear.

We’re not going to get a lot of answers out of these early-season games either. Tonight’s opener, for example, comes against a Chicago State team that won six games last year, has only 14 total starts back from a year ago and trailed St. Ambrose, an NAIA team, by six points in the middle of the second half of an exhibition game the other night. And St. Ambrose’s best player missed the game with an injury.

If the Hawks win by 40 tonight, we won’t know any more than we do now. We need a few weeks, probably a month, to know much about this team fits into the Big Ten race.