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Posts Tagged ‘Iowa Hawkeyes’

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.

Wrapping up the spring

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Random thoughts and observations from the Hawkeyes’ spring-ending workout Saturday at Kinnick Stadium:

– Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said freshman A.J. Derby and junior John Wienke are “neck and neck’’ for the backup quarterback job, but Derby looked much, much better in Saturday’s workout. He has a stronger arm and seemed to make better decisions. In fact, he probably looked better than starter James Vandenberg.

– Keenan Davis was the clear standout among the receivers but walk-on Steve Staggs looked like he could be a solid possession receiver comparable to Colin Sandeman.

– Three players were back fielding punts during the workout – Keenan Davis, Micah Hyde and freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley. Based on the way he looked on two interception returns for touchdowns last season, Hyde may be the favorite to win the job.

– Hyde was used at free safety this spring on sort of an experimental basis and looked good enough that it seems probable he will stay there in the fall. That sets up a major battle for his old cornerback job between veteran Greg Castillo and upstart B.J. Lowery. Those two had the only interceptions of Saturday’s controlled scrimmage.

– Neither of the two kickers – Mike Meyer or Trent Mossbrucker – looked very good in the work-out, but the cold and the wind weren’t exactly conducive to quality kicking.

– Several linemen – Thomas Nardo, Steve Bigach and Nolan McMillan – disappeared off the depth chart between the start and end of spring drills with very little explanation from the coaching staff. None of them suited up Saturday although all still are listed on the roster. They apparently are either injured or still recovering from winter workouts.

– Senior punter Eric Guthrie looked very erratic Saturday, alternating booming kicks with weak wobblers. Don’t be surprised if Australian-born freshman Jonny Mullings steals the job from him in the fall.

Rhabdo still being discusssed

Friday, April 8th, 2011

We had another interview session with “selected’’ Iowa players Friday and, as expected, there were a few questions about rhabdomyolysis, the ailment that hospitalized 13 Hawkeyes player following an extremely tough January workout.

There were questions. Not many answers.

“I haven’t even thought about the whole rhabdo thing,’’ defensive back Micah Hyde said. “While it was going on, it wasn’t that big a deal to me. I’ve been working out every day and haven’t missed a day.’’

It’s hard to believe Hyde hasn’t thought about it at all, especially since about half of the players who were affected play the same position he does. Surely, he noticed that fellow DBs Shaun Prater, Jordan Bernstine, Willie Lowe and Tommy Donatell went about a month-and-a-half without working out. Surely, he has heard that Lowe still is feeling the effects of the ailment and plans to transfer.

Iowa players have heard about Lowe, but the ones who were there Friday say they don’t really know anything.

“I haven’t seen him in awhile,’’ quarterback James Vandenberg told us. “I don’t know all the facts. I know he was a great guy when he was here. I liked him a lot. His locker was just down from mine and he was always a fun guy to be around.’’

Hyde, Bernstine auditioning at safety

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

There are indications that Iowa has been doing a great deal of experimenting at the safety positions in the opening week of spring practice.

Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood have started side by side at the back end of the defense for the past three years, but both are gone now.
Tanner Miller, who played sparingly as a true freshman last fall, is expected to replace Greenwood at free safety but he is sitting out the spring after undergoing shoulder surgery. That has left the door wide open for auditions at the two spots.

There is a handful of players who have been in the program for a few years who are contending for those spots — Collin Sleeper, Jack Swanson, Tommy Donatell, Nick Nielsen, Kyle Steinbrecher – but don’t be surprised if either Micah Hyde or Jordan Bernstine ends up starting alongside Miller. Both have been cornerbacks for their entire careers but both have lined up at safety in the past week.

Bernstine, regarded as the top prospect in Iowa when he came out of Des Moines Lincoln,  was projected to start at corner in 2009 but broke his ankle in preseason practice and has not been the same since. Hyde started every game at cornerback as a sophomore last fall, but he is a natural ballhawk who might be even better at safety. His brother, Marcus, was a starting safety at Michigan State last season.

Shaun Prater, a returning All-Big Ten player at the other corner, has been impressed by what he’s seen of both Hyde and Bernstine at safety. He said Bernstine seems more committed and dedicated now that he is down to one last season of college ball.

“I think you could put Micah in there right now,’’ Prater said. “I think you could put him and Jordan in there together and they’d fine. They are making it look so easy right now.’’

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Hyde seems better suited to play free safety while Bernstine has the look of a strong safety. Our guess is that Bernstine could end up replacing Sash with Hyde either supplanting Miller at free safety or going back to his old corner position. If Hyde stays at safety, sophomore B.J. Lowery, who has been compared favorably to Amari Spievey, probably would start on the corner.

Good time for a bye week

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has been on record for some time as saying he doesn’t like bye weeks. He hates the idea of taking a Saturday off in the middle of the season.

But this time he’ll take it.

“This week couldn’t be better,’’ Ferentz said after his team had moved to 4-1 with a 24-3 victory over Penn State. “It’s right in the middle of our season. We’ve been at this thing eight weeks, now we’ve got eight more from today, so I couldn’t find a better time for it.’’

There are a lot of reasons to like the bye week at this point in the season:

– The Hawkeyes have a lot of players banged up and nursing minor injuries, especially at the middle linebacker position. Bruce Davis is out for the year and seniors Jeff Tarpinian and Troy Johnson were unable to play in the second half Saturday. Freshman James Morris did OK as a replacement, but the Hawkeyes certainly are a better team with Tarpinian, who should be fine after a week off.

– The place-kicking situation remains a bit unsettled. Veteran Daniel Murray was in uniform for the first time this season Saturday and should be ready to go by a week from Saturday. Going into Michigan’s “Big House’’ a week from Saturday, it might be better to use a seasoned senior rather than freshman Michael Meyer.

– Adam Robinson held up well while carrying the ball 28 times Saturday, but the Hawkeyes eventually are going to need a backup running back. The extra week gives them a chance to get freshmen Marcus Coker and Brad Rogers ready. Rogers lined up at tailback just once Saturday, but the Hawkeyes were called for illegal procedure on that play.

– The bye week gives the Iowa coaches some extra time to prepare for one of most the most dynamic offensive forces in the country: Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who rolled up another 495 yards and five touchdowns Saturday against Indiana.

What we learned Saturday

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Things we learned in Iowa’s 45-0 victory over Ball State:

– The Hawkeyes’ running back depth isn’t nearly as tenuous as we might have thought. Redshirt freshman Brad Rogers and true freshman Marcus Coker combined for 126 yards rushing in the last quarter-and-a-half. While they aren’t as polished or as experienced as starter Adam Robinson, they both offer a power running style that could be effective as a change of pace to A-Rob.
– The kicking job may be less secure now than it was when the season began. Sophomore Trent Mossbrucker was replaced on field goals and extra points by true freshman Michael Meyer, who hit a 25-yard field goal (Iowa’s first of the season) but also missed a 37-yarder. There still is no word about the status of Daniel Murray, who was the kicker all of last season.
– The offensive line isn’t nearly as bad as it looked last week in a 34-27 loss to Arizona. Then again, it probably isn’t quite as good it looked at times Saturday. The line definitely has potential, but it remains a work in progress.
– Mike Daniels may be the surprise player of the entire season for the Hawkeyes so far. The junior defensive tackle was unstoppable Saturday, recording four tackles for losses and Iowa’s only sack of the day. While Adrian Clayborn and Karl Klug have had fairly quiet starts to the season, Mike Diesel has become someone future opponents will need to deal with.
– Ricky Stanzi clearly is a better player than he was a year ago. Last season he ran hot and cold, even against lesser opponents. He’s been almost continuously hot in the first 16 quarters of this season.
– Ball State probably isn’t going to win many games in the Mid-American Conference. The Cardinals use a lot of different running backs, receivers and quarterbacks but none of them looked very good. This team is going to struggle to score many points even in its own league.

This week’s pick: Iowa 45-7

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Ball State coach Stan Parrish didn’t want to play Iowa to begin with. And he certainly didn’t want to play the Hawkeyes the week after they suffered their first loss, on the road, in semi-excruciating fashion.

All of that adds up to a tough day for the Cardinals on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. Every week people ask for a predicted score. This week, we’ll say 45-7. It probably will be something like 31-0 at halftime and 45-0 in the fourth quarter before Ball State scores one of those meaningless consolation touchdowns.

I don’t think Ball State is the worst team in the Mid-American Conference – a home loss to Liberty University notwithstanding – but the Cardinals aren’t an upper-echelon MAC team either. Chances are, with the Hawkeyes looking to vent some frustrations, no MAC team would have much chance.

Things I think we’ll see:

– About 300 yard passing for Ricky Stanzi. With Adam Robinson now the only healthy, experienced running back, I don’t think we’ll see him carry the ball 25 times. The Hawkeyes will throw.

– Around 8 to 10 carries for freshman running back Marcus Coker, who doesn’t really know the playbook yet but who will get a chance to show what he can do in mop-up time.

– At least three Ball State turnovers, maybe more. Freshman quarterback Keith Wenning started at Purdue last week, but he’ll face an even more intimidating atmosphere this week.

– A little more extensive playing time for such players as C.J. Fiedorowicz, James Morris and Keenan Davis. We might even get to see them throw a pass in Fiedorowicz’s direction.