January 14, 2013
Sure it's Monday, but it was a busy and surprising weekend for the Hawkeyes. A win on the road for the Iowa Basketball team and a huge (and surprising) commitment for Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeye Football team were the big headlines this past weekend.
1. You could feel a real sense of relief from the Iowa Basketball team on Sunday afternoon following their win in Evanston. The smiles were back on the faces of the Iowa players and there was no need to address toughness and defensive deficiencies. You could argue that this was perhaps the best defensive effort from an Iowa team under Fran McCaffery. Sure the Wildcats are misses some key pieces, particularly leading scorer Drew Crawford, but Welsh-Ryan Arena has been a house of horrors for the Hawks in the past decade. It was nice to see an Iowa team take control and with the exception of a few minutes early in the second half and put Northwestern away.
2. It was really nice to see Josh Oglesby break out and have a solid game from the field on Sunday afternoon. The sophomore guard came into the game well below where he was expected to be in terms of three point field goal percentage. He's also become a favorite target for message board posters questioning his ability to be a key contributor. Oglesby hit 4-9 three point attempts and scored a season high 14 points in 20 minutes of action. He also dished out four assists and had no turnovers and had one steal. Hopefully the sharp shooting guard is back on track because the rest of Iowa's team made zero three pointers against Northwestern.
3. Welcome back Melsahn Basabe. The junior forward showed signs early this year that he has matured from his sophomore slump. Then a series of sprained ankles slowed him down. Now his ankles are healthy and his game has returned to form. He put up 14 points on Thursday against Michigan State and then followed it up with 11 yesterday against the Wildcats. That's 25 points and he did that in 30 minutes of action. I know some have said this is freshman year Basabe has returned. This is a better version of the bouncy forward. He's stronger in the upper body than he was two years ago and he's also more skilled in the post.
4. Welcome back Devyn Marble. After missing the first game of his Hawkeye career, Marble sat out the Michigan State game due to a sprained ankle sustained in practice on Monday. While he certainly wasn't 100%, Marble played smart and his uncontested dunk for his first two points showed me he was ready to go. He didn't score much (8 points), but he played smart basketball, moved the ball, and dished out five assists. Now the key is to get back to 100% and the Iowa schedule this week really helps. Iowa is off until Saturday night so plenty of time to get ready for a big game against the Badgers.
5. The Aaron White shoe toss was one of the more amusing moments I've seen on a basketball court in a while. Wildcat guard Alex Marcotullio lost his shoe in the second half playing defense. It was sitting near the foul line and White saw it and raced up to it and grabbed it. Then he tossed it towards the Iowa bench and it went right past the head of Fran McCaffery. I jokingly asked McCaffery if he was trying to hit him and Fran just smiled and said, "He's ok with me, I think." Warning to future Iowa opponents, don't lose your shoe during the game or it's going into the seats.
6. On to football recruiting where the Hawkeyes received quite a nice surprise on Saturday afternoon when 2014 four star offensive tackle Ross Pierschbacher committed to Iowa. Was it a surprise that the Cedar Falls native picked the Hawkeyes? Not really. Was the timing of his commitment caught everyone off guard. Pierschbacher has said he was going to take more visits and look at some schools this spring, so picking Iowa now really came out of the blue. Coming off a 4-8 season, some thought that the lifelong Iowa fan might look elsewhere, but he didn't and this commitment was a huge boost for the Hawkeyes recruiting efforts in 2014.
7. Who's next? Jay Scheel the floor is yours. The 2014 athlete from Union High School in La Porte City is considered the third best in-state prospect behind Allen Lazard and Pierschbacher. He grew up an Iowa fan and one of the first phone calls that Pierschbacher made after his commitment was to Scheel to let him know he was committed to the Hawkeyes. This Sunday he will be back in Iowa City for the Hawkeyes Junior Day. Could his recruitment come to a close on his unofficial visit? Stay tuned.
8. A tough loss for the Iowa wrestlers on Sunday afternoon at Oklahoma State. It's never easy to win a meet in Stillwater and it was certainly a bitter pill to swallow for Coach Brands after his wrestlers jumped out to an early 12-3 lead. Iowa faded down the stretch, losing the last five matches, four by just one point. "Finishing was the difference today," said Tom Brands. "It was the difference between winning the matches and the meet." Iowa hits the road this weekend to face Michigan and Michigan State. Then two huge meets follow, at Minnesota and hosting Penn State on February 1st.
9. It was an off weekend for Coach Lisa Bluder and the Iowa Women's Basketball team. Probably a well deserved rest for the Hawkeyes, who have won eight of their last nine games. They get back to action on Thursday evening when they travel to face a very good Michigan State team. Then they host the always tough Purdue Boilermakers on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa currently sits at 13-4 overall and have four wins over Top 25 teams.
10. Lastly, it will be an emotional night on Saturday when the Hawkeyes face the Badgers. Iowa will mark the 20th anniversary of the passing of Chris Street, who was taken far too soon in an auto accident on the night of January 19th. Ask any Iowa fan and they will tell you exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. His picture is outside the Iowa locker room and even though nearly every player on the Iowa team wasn't born when Street passed away, they know his story and what he means to the University of Iowa. Ask any player who has received the annual Chris Street Award and they will tell you it is the biggest honor they earned as a Hawkeye. It will be an emotional night and as always, the spirit of a great Hawkeye will be in the building.
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