Big Ten does Iowa men no favors in league schedule

July 24, 2009

 

Iowa forward Aaron Fuller, center, battles to maintain control of the ball against Michigan forward Zack Gibson, left, and guard Zack Novak during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten men's tournament Thursday, March 12, 2009 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Iowa forward Aaron Fuller, center, battles to maintain control of the ball against Michigan forward Zack Gibson, left, and guard Zack Novak during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten men's tournament Thursday, March 12, 2009 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The Big Ten announced its single-play games for the 2009-10 men’s basketball schedule. Iowa plays at Wisconsin and hosts Penn State. It’s debatable whether any place is a good destination for the Iowa men’s basketball team after losing 11 straight road games. That tied a season record and is one road loss from tying the all-time school record.

So it’s easy to look at the Big Ten slate — the dates have not been announced — and shrug your shoulders. After all, Iowa’s last two league seasons have produced an 11-25 record, the worst two-year Big Ten record in school history. But it would have worked to Iowa’s favor had the league flipped the single plays with Iowa hosting Wisconsin this year and traveling to Penn State. Here’s why:

 Iowa has lost its last eight games at Wisconsin by an average of 10 points. Iowa has lost its last three at Penn State, but those losses have come by a combined seven points. Before the recent three-game losing streak, Iowa had won three straight at State College by an average of 15 points. With a young, inexperienced and recently unsuccessful team, the schedule could have provided that break for Iowa. It did not.

It’s not like Iowa has many other reprieves on its Big Ten road schedule, either. Here’s a look at Iowa’s recent history at Big Ten venues:

  • At Illinois: Lost 8 straight and 19 of 20
  • At Indiana: Lost 3 straight and 7 of 9
  • At Michigan: Lost 1 but won 3 of 4
  • At Michigan State: Lost 14 straight
  • At Minnesota: Lost 1 and 3 of 4
  • At Northwestern: Lost 4 of 5
  • At Ohio State: Lost 4 straight
  • At Purdue: Lost 3 of 4
  • At Penn State: Lost 3 straight (does not play in State College this winter)
  • At Wisconsin: Lost last 8

The in-state schools are no picnic, either. Iowa plays at both Northern Iowa and Iowa State this year, while hosting Drake. Here’s the recent trend involving Iowa and its in-state rivals:

  • At Iowa State: Lost 3 straight
  • At Northern Iowa: Lost 3 of 4
  • At Drake: Lost 2 straight, but won 13 previous games (Iowa hosts Drake this year)

Iowa also plays in Kansas City’s CBE Classic (formerly known as the Guardians Classic) this fall. The opening round games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena include Duquesne and Illinois-Chicago. Iowa owns a 2-1 record against Duquesne, but never has played Illinois-Chicago. Iowa then will play two games against either Pittsburgh, Texas or Wichita State at Kansas City. Pittsburgh was ranked No. 1 for three weeks last year, while Texas also qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Wichita State played in the postseason College Basketball Invitational. Iowa last played Pittsburgh in 1997, and Wichita State in 1981 (the heartbreaking NCAA tournament loss). Iowa played Texas in the Guardians Classic in 2006.

 As for the Big Ten, here’s a look at all of the single-play match-ups. It’s nice to see Michigan State and Purdue play twice this year, because they easily are the top Big Ten teams returning this year. But it’s also strange for Wisconsin, which has its single plays againsts Iowa and Minnesota. Those three teams are considered priority rivalries in Big Ten football and must play annually.

  • ILLINOIS | Minnesota, at Michigan
  • INDIANA | Michigan State, at Penn State
  • IOWA | Penn State, at Wisconsin
  • MICHIGAN | Illinois, at Purdue
  • MICHIGAN STATE | Ohio State, at Indiana
  • MINNESOTA | Wisconsin, at Illinois
  • NORTHWESTERN | Purdue, at Ohio State
  • OHIO STATE | Northwestern, at Michigan State
  • PENN STATE | Indiana, at Iowa
  • PURDUE | Michigan, at Northwestern
  • WISCONSIN | Iowa, at Minnesota

Preliminary work underway at Carver

July 23, 2009

 

Workers from an Iowa City tree service clear trees from the northwest side of Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, July 23, 2009. The work is done to complete a utility project necessary to begin a the renovation of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Scott Dochterman/The Gazette)

Workers from an Iowa City tree service clear trees from the northwest side of Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, July 23, 2009. The work is done to complete a utility project necessary to begin a the renovation of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Scott Dochterman/The Gazette)

Utility crews have begun preparatory work on the invisible guts of Carver-Hawkeye Arena’s future renovation.

The $2 million utility project has wiped out half the parking west of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which senior associate athletics director Jane Meyer promises will be available in time for football season. The project includes water and electrical work, and a local tree service was clearing timber northwest of the arena.

“We have to get a 12-inch water line from Hawkins Drive down around sort of the footprint of where the practice facility will be,” Meyer said. “This was bid as a separate project.

“The utilities have to be out of the way before anything else begins.”

The state Board of Regents approved the $47 million renovation in June 2008. Athletics officials planned to break ground this fall, but Meyer said it’s too early to commit to a timeline because the drawings are not finalized. Iowa City’s Neumann Monson Architects and Kansas City-based HNTB are the project architects.

“I’m not even going to speak to that (a timeline) until we know where this last pricing comes in and we make sure everything is in order,” Meyer said.

Earlier this week Athletics Director Gary Barta said the utility project will lead to Carver’s renovation.

“The actual Carver project hasn’t gone to bid yet,” he said. “It’s a precursor. It’s a utility project that will allow us to do the big renovation once we go to bid sometime this fall.”

Athletics officials have received around $9 million in pledges and commitments for the project as of earlier this summer. They hope to raise $20 million privately. Associate athletics director Mark Jennings said Thursday the fundraising campaign is ahead of schedule.

The basketball facility/arena renovation includes a multi-court gym for the basketball and volleyball teams and a renovated wrestling complex. Each sport will receive new locker rooms, new coaches offices and an 8,000-square foot strength and conditioning center.

The arena renovation plan includes two hospitality rooms and 650 premium seats for men’s basketball. A courtside seat for men’s basketball is valued at $125,000 in giving over five years. A second-row seat costs $60,000 over five years. There will be 50 seats in each row. The arena also includes 550 premium club seats costing $12,500 per seat over five years.


Iowa City High’s A.J. Derby keeps his options open

July 20, 2009
Iowa City High quarterback A. J. Derby carries the ball as Cedar Rapids Xavier's Steven Travis tries, unsuccessfully, to stop his progress during their game on Nov. 3, 2008, at City High School in Iowa City.

Iowa City High quarterback A. J. Derby carries the ball as Cedar Rapids Xavier's Steven Travis tries, unsuccessfully, to stop his progress during their game on Nov. 3, 2008, at City High School in Iowa City.

Iowa City High quarterback A.J. Derby compiles football scholarship offers like others his age collect football cards.

Derby, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior, has scholarship offers from Florida, Louisiana State, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Miami, Nebraska and several others — “I can’t list them all off but it’s a lot,” he said. Iowa also feverishly has targeted him.

“It’s just kind of wide open right now,” Derby said. “I plan on taking all of my official visits. So I’m going to wait until the school year, then narrow it down to five and decide where I’m going to take my officials.

“It’s wide open. I’m still talking to everyone.”

Derby hopes to take a few of his visits on Saturdays following Thursday night high school games. Iowa City High plays Thursday night games on Sept. 17, Sept. 24 and Oct. 22.

Derby played wide receiver and defensive back for Iowa City High as a sophomore before moving to quarterback last year. He completed 77 of 136 passes for 1,197 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing four interceptions. Derby also led Iowa City High in rushing with 1,064 yards on 168 attempts and scored 13 touchdowns.

With Derby’s frame and versatility, many wonder if colleges are recruiting Derby as a quarterback then switch him to tight end, linebacker or safety. Other speculation involves whether Derby could play the role of a running quarterback, like Florida’s Tim Tebow.

“Everyone is recruiting me for quarterback,” Derby said. “Some (schools want him as a running quarterback), and some don’t. Some want me to be a pocket passer. It’s kind of a little of both.”

Derby also faces outside pressure to remain with the hometown school, Iowa. His father, John, was an all-Big Ten linebacker at Iowa. His older brother, Zach, plays tight end at Iowa.

“They tell me to go Iowa all the time,” Derby said of his friends. “These coaches (baseball coaches from Cedar Rapids Kennedy) were trying to tell me to go to Iowa after the game. I’m kind of used to it.

“My dad just said do what you think is right for yourself and don’t just do what he wants, but do what I want.”

“I just try not to think about it too much and try to be a normal kid.”


Peer pressure leading recruits to Iowa

July 18, 2009
Southfield-Lathrup (Mich.) High School's Roy Marble Jr., during practice on Friday, January 11, 2008.  (Photo by DAVID KILKENNEY/Special to The Free Press)

Southfield-Lathrup (Mich.) High School's Roy Marble Jr., during practice on Friday, January 11, 2008. (Photo by DAVID KILKENNEY/Special to The Free Press)

Most people believe peer pressure for teenagers involves only their friends. That’s not necessarily accurate, especially when it comes to sports recruiting.

College sports teams — especially in basketball — have only a few select scholarships open each year. Once they’re gone, those scholarships aren’t coming back.

Iowa had four open scholarships for 2010. In fall 2008, Sioux Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt forward Cody Larson committed to Iowa. Shortly thereafter, Chanse Creekmur from Marshalltown committed (and later decommitted).

In March, when four Iowa players left the program, Iowa suddenly had four available scholarships for the 2010 season. One, obviously, is on hold for Larson. But within the last month, Iowa secured three commitments while somewhat playing those recruits against others.

Mundelein (Ill.) guard Ben Brust was the first to jump on board, picked Iowa over Northwestern and Butler on July 1. Then, in stunning fashion, Iowa nabbed Detroit’s Roy Marble Jr., son of the school’s all-time leading scorer Roy Marble, one day later. Marble, who had several offers from mid-majors and had looks from Michigan and Michigan State, was interested in other schools but was comfortable with Iowa. He didn’t want to risk losing a scholarship to play the scholarship waiting game elsewhere.

“I committed early because kids are starting to commit early,” he said. “Because I had some idea I wanted to be a Hawk, I didn’t want them to take my scholarship and give it to somebody else.”

McCabe became a summer camp superstar, receiving scholarship offers from Minnesota, Arizona State, Utah, Northwestern and other schools in the region. He received an offer from Iowa in March but wanted to wait almost to validate his commitment. He knew Iowa had only one scholarship left for his class, and he couldn’t leave the coaches hanging forever.

“I think for me it was kind of nerve wracking for a little while,” he said. “But I was excited when Iowa got Ben Brust and Roy Marble Jr. I played against Ben Brust in a tournament in Chicago. He’s a very good guard. Of course I know about Cody Larson. He’s very athletic. I’m just excited just knowing those other players are coming in.”

All of Iowa’s 2010 recruits also received boosts from people connected with the Iowa program. Marble Jr.’s dad is the only player to score more than 2,000 for Iowa.McCabe’s former high school teammate, Brennan Cougill, will be a freshman this fall at Iowa. Brust is good friends with Cully Payne, who also is an incoming freshman. Larson grew up in the same town as Wisconsin’s Joe Krabbenhoft, who told Larson that Iowa’s program was headed in the right direction.

Iowa could have other scholarships open up in 2010, if someone leaves the team early. Here’s a look at Iowa’s class of 2010 and their numbers last year.

Roy Marble Jr., a 6-foot-5 guard/forward from Detroit, averaged 22 points, nine rebounds and 4.5 assists

Zach McCabe, a 6-foot-6 forward, averaged 16.1 points, nine rebounds and 5.3 assists for Class 3A state champion Sioux City Heelan

Cody Larson, a 6-foot-8 forward/post, averaged 17.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists for Sioux Falls Roosevelt. He had offseason knee surgery

Ben Brust, a 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 28 points a game for Mundelein (Ill.) High School until breaking his leg midway through the season


Zach McCabe tabs Iowa, touts ‘physical’ play

July 17, 2009
Sioux City Heelan's Zach McCabe dunks the ball in his team's victory over Carroll in a Class 3A semifinal game at the Iowa boys high school basketball tournament,  Thursday, March 12, 2009, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Steve Pope)

Sioux City Heelan's Zach McCabe dunks the ball in his team's victory over Carroll in a Class 3A semifinal game at the Iowa boys high school basketball tournament, Thursday, March 12, 2009, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Steve Pope)

Sioux City Heelan senior Zach McCabe sifted through numerous basketball scholarship offers but only one tugged at his heart.

McCabe, a 6-foot-6 forward, picked Iowa over Arizona State, Virginia, Utah, Minnesota and Northwestern among others. McCabe said his choice came down to one simple, yet special factor.

“I’ve been a Hawkeye fan ever since I was a little kid,” McCabe said Friday. “Playing there has always been a dream of mine. For me I wanted to stay close to home and instate and help Iowa be winners.”

McCabe is the fourth and final high school commitment for the 2010 class. He joins guards Roy Marble Jr. of Detroit and Ben Brust of Mundelein, Ill., and forward Cody Larson of South Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt as future Iowa players.

McCabe averaged 16.1 points and nine rebounds a game for the Class 3A state champion Crusaders. He led the team in assists with 144 and sank 50.3 percent of his shots. He was a teammate of incoming Iowa freshman Brennan Cougill.

“They’re going to get somebody who’s both blue collar and white collar,” Heelan Coach Tom Betz said. “He’s not afraid to do the dirty work. He’s a competitor.

“He’s as competitive of a kid we’ve ever had and a very skilled kid. He shoots the ball extremely well and plays both ends of the court.”

McCabe also plays quarterback for Heelan’s football team and garnered a few football scholarship offers. He said his passion lies with basketball, which made his college sport an easy choice. But his on-court basketball mentality mirrors his football mindset.

“I’m a very tough player, pretty physical,” McCabe said. “For me, I can score and rebound. I pretty much do anything the coaches ask me to do.”

Iowa coaches offered McCabe a scholarship earlier this year, but McCabe wanted to take his time to validate his choice. He played in a summer AAU tournament in Milwaukee last week and talked with his family about the new offers he had received.

“I told them I love Iowa a lot, and that’s where I wanted to go,” he said. “They (family members) would have been happy with anywhere I would have went. But they’re Hawkeye fans.”


ISU receives major payout from 2008 Iowa-ISU FB game

July 16, 2009
The Cy-Hawk Trophy donated by the Des Moines Athletic Club when Iowa State and Iowa resumed football competition in 1977.

The Cy-Hawk Trophy donated by the Des Moines Athletic Club when Iowa State and Iowa resumed football competition in 1977.

Iowa’s athletics department paid Iowa State $616,383.48 for its 2008 appearance at Kinnick Stadium, per the schools’ current football contract.

The payout exceeds Iowa State’s share from 2006 by more than $23,000 or the school’s share in 2004 by more than $35,000. The contract between the universities stipulates that the home school pay the visitor 20 percent in gate receipts after taxes.

Iowa State and Iowa agreed to a new contract in 2008 that lasts through 2017, but the terms change following the 2012 game. Beginning in 2013, the host school will keep all of the gate receipts.

The current arrangement favors Iowa State because of stadium capacity. Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium holds more than 70,000 fans, while Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium holds around 55,000. Iowa received $330,389 from Iowa State following the 2007 game in Ames, nearly half of what Iowa State took in last season. 

Iowa State also will benefit from earning the final 20 percent cut in 2012 and then keeping all of the gate in 2013.

This year Iowa State hosts Iowa Sept. 12. Individual tickets are available through Iowa’s ticket office for $92. Iowa State is offering a three-game package that includes Iowa, North Dakota State and Colorado beginning July 20 for $99. Iowa State also selling hillside-only tickets for $60.


Iowa FB Media Day guaranteed to host fewer attendees

July 15, 2009

OTB_Ham_sandwich

This is not entirely economy-driven for the struggling media industry, either.

As part of its annual football media day festivities, Iowa hosts a luncheon at a local restaurant (or in recent years at the Kinnick Stadium press box). Around 60 media types (including several wannabees with recorders, cameras and Hawkeye T-shirts) get the usual interviews plus some gorge themselves at the luncheon. Then, many snag a few extra media guides for their friends back home.

Not this year. Iowa has cut the free buffet line from its media day budget. Plus, the shiny media guides won’t be available, either. Iowa will send them to Chicago for Big Ten Media Days but the media guides won’t be available for local media. Iowa instead will provide their fact books (which has much more useful information anyway) to media attending the event, which is scheduled for Aug. 7.

Many reporters will never see one of these again.

Many reporters will never see one of these again.

So, how many of you wanna bet that a good 20 percent of the media day posse decides not to attend media day because there’s no free meal or free media guide? Oh, the usual suspects, like we at The Gazette, the Des Moines Register and the Iowa City Press-Citizen will attend as always, as will the major market TV stations. But the smaller radio and newspaper outlets that often showed up for a free meal, a free media guide and the chance to meet Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz will vaporize faster than you can say “seconds.”

It’s kind of sad that the sports media gets this well-earned reputation.


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