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December 3, 2012

Weekend Thoughts

It was another eventful week in the world of the Hawkeyes with much anticipated end of the season press conference from Kirk Ferentz, a serious drubbing of the Cyclones on the mat, and the Iowa Basketball team making some changes to their starting lineup.

We have quite a bit on our plate this week, so let's get to it.

1. I think I like the lineup change that Fran McCaffery rolled out on Saturday afternoon. Granted it was against a really bad Texas A&M Corpus Christi team that the Hawkeyes handled with ease, but I think it's going to be good for this team down the road. As I mentioned last week, the offensive struggles were in part because two freshmen were playing tough to adjust to positions when making the leap to college hoops. Well, that hasn't changed with the move of Anthony Clemmons into the starting lineup. He's a freshman and he's playing the point.

But, the move allows Devyn Marble to move to the three and it gets Aaron White back to the four spot. I think the biggest key is White at the four. He just never really seemed comfortable at the three, even though I think he will play some this year. Now the Hawkeyes have three solid ball handling options on the floor and that's going to create more opportunities. It will also take some pressure off Mike Gesell, who was being asked to be a scoring point guard. Now he can score and also run the show when Clemmons is getting a breather.

2. I think the 11 man rotation that Fran McCaffery is trying to use is going to have to shrink. I think Iowa has 11 players that deserve minutes, but moving forward, a few of those players in the 9 to 11 range are going to have to come to grips with the idea that they might not play a lot in some games, especially when Big Ten season comes around. I like what I have seen from Ingram and think maybe he ends up moving his minutes higher. I think a couple of guys, probably Eric May, Gabe Olaseni, and maybe Zach McCabe, see their minutes shrink. Olaseni looked better on Saturday, but as McCaffery said during the week, when one thing goes wrong, he tends to let that get in his head. Until he gets past that, his minutes are going to be limited.

3. I think that Iowa will at least split with Iowa State and UNI in the next couple of weeks. I also wouldn't rule out a sweep. One thing Iowa can't afford is to be swept. Thus far this season, Iowa has lost its two big non-conference tests. This is about building a resume and you don't want that resume to be completely dependent on how you do in the toughest conference in the country. While the college basketball world probably won't be paying a lot of attention when the Hawkeyes play the Cyclones and the Panthers, they need to get something of note done in the non-conference portion of the schedule and these are the final two opportunities.

4. I think we should all just sit back and never really question Fran McCaffery's talent evaluations and offers. Even with the prospects he missed on, it's hard to find too many duds in the bunch so far. Every coach will miss on a kid from time to time, but seriously, look around, it's pretty good. He found Melshan Basabe, who is playing well again after a sophomore slump. He found Aaron White and every school not in the A-10 passed on him. Now we see that Sapp Clemmons is the latest find for McCaffery. He offered George Fant at Western Kentucky and he looked pretty good in Cancun. I saw David Kravich play at Cal the other day and he's going to be a good one. One time Iowa signee Anthony Hubbard is doing very well at Morgan State. Will he be perfect? Nope, no coach ever is, but there is no denying that talent evaluation and finding those under the radar prospects is one of the strengths of McCaffery and his staff.

5. On to a bit of football and I think a few folks were a little delusional when they thought that Kirk Ferentz was going to have some sort of earth shattering press conference this past Wednesday. We you really expecting him to have some sort of Bulworth moment? That's not Ferentz and it never will be Ferentz. He even joked about the rumor mill and what it had been churning out prior to his press conference. If there were going to be any changes to his staff, he certainly wouldn't have announced it at the press conference. If he was going to make drastic changes to his philosophy, he wasn't going to broadcast it to the world at that moment. We are 14 years into the Ferentz tenure and while I understand the unrest and the reasons for the frustration, we also need to keep in mind that he's operated a certain way all though those years and a 4-8 season isn't going to change that. Bottom line and for future reference, if a coach is leaving, the only time there's going to be a presser is if it involves a gold watch type ceremony. Otherwise, it's going to be a press release.

6. I think given that Ferentz is Ferentz, if you know what I mean, I'm not sure what the meaning of the press conference really was. Ok, we wrap up the season and get a few quotes and probably enrage a few more fans that are already at the breaking point, but what did we really learn? Not a lot. For some it was like rubbing salt into a festering wound of a season. Maybe some took some positives out of it. It was nice to chat with Ferentz, clear up some of the rumors, and look ahead a little bit, but for the most part it was a somewhat meaningless exercise. I not bashing Ferentz for having it. I think he had good intentions. It just didn't seem to make anyone feel any better about the 2012 season and the future of the program.

7. I think it's safe to say that Kirk Ferentz isn't going to do a drastic overall to his program. Will there be tweaks to how the ship is run? Probably. Is there the potential for one or two assistant coaches leaving the program? Sure. But, the way they do business and the overall philosophy isn't going to change. Ferentz was pretty strong in his defense of Greg Davis, so as long as Davis wants to be at Iowa, he's going to be at Iowa. Given that Davis was down in Texas with his QB commit this past weekend, it's safe to say he's likely to return to Iowa City.

8. I think I got a kick out of the whole Northern Illinois dust up on ESPN tonight. It's become abundantly clear to me that the four letter network wants their on camera folks to become Skip Bayless and Screamin' A. Smith. Sure Kirk Herbstreit has plenty of opinions, but tonight his bashing of NIU and his comment that "Iowa is the worst team in the Big Ten," was certainly out of character. I've also seen some of this coming from the ESPN Big Ten bloggers. By the way, Iowa would probably be the 11th best or 2nd worst team in the Big Ten. Certainly not getting excited about being #11 in the league, but it sheds light on the slightly over the top nature of the comment. I'm just glad that the farce that is the BCS is coming to a close after next season. And for my good friend TobyNole, Go Noles.:)

9. I think the once mighty have fallen. Unfortunately, I didn't get to stay around Carver-Hawkeye on Saturday night to watch the beat down of Iowa State on the mat, but I hear it was as bad as the score indicates. It's kind of sad that this once great rivalry on the mat has been reduced to a one-sided affair. This used to be a measuring stick for the Hawkeyes early in the season, but these days, it's nothing more than a tune up. As far as the Iowa wrestlers go, Tom Brands is still tinkering with his lineup and it will be interesting to see where it all goes. I think he's fine with the tinkering this time of year, but come late January, he will want to get his lineup set.

10. I think the Iowa women's hoops team has a chance to be pretty entertaining and like a lot of Lisa Bluder's teams, they will get better as the year moves along. They will struggle with more athletic teams, but I really enjoyed watching them on Saturday. They play with a lot of energy and Samatha Logic is a real exciting player. It's great to see Theairra Taylor back on the court and Bethany Dolittle has made great strides with her game in the past year. The West Virginia win in Florida was big, but this week will be a huge measuring stick for Bluder's Bunch when they host Iowa State on Thursday evening. The Cyclones come into the game undefeated, but looking at their schedule, they haven't played anyone either. Big spot for the Hawkeyes.

Bonus Thought: One last look back at the Ferentz presser this week regarding recruiting. When I asked him about what specific areas they would look for with the final 3 or 4 recruits in the class, he said linebacker and guys who can score touchdowns. Couple of thoughts on that, one, why weren't linebackers a bigger priority earlier in this class? Needs certainly change, but he cited three seniors next year and injuries at the position. I guess maybe the injury situation has changed or perhaps the evaluation of the depth of talent already on campus changed this year. Fair enough. The guys who can score touchdowns comment, well that one was like a letter high fastball to his critics. That said, it's a glaring need. Iowa needs more dynamic playmakers on the offensive side of the football.



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