Prater suspended following arrest

February 28, 2009

From Iowa sports information:

University of Iowa freshman defensive back Shaun Prater has been charged with OWI in an incident Friday night in Iowa City.

“I was extremely disappointed to learn of the incident involving Shaun Prater,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said in a statement. “He has been suspended indefinitely. He will be required to serve numerous internal obligations, set by me. He’ll also face a multiple game suspension in the fall.”

Prater, a 5-11, 172-pounder from Omaha, NE, played in all 13 games last season as a true freshman. He was credited with eight tacklesW


Davis to play, Peterson unlikely

February 28, 2009

Guards Jermain Davis and Jeff Peterson are in uniform during warm-ups today at Northwestern, with about 27 minutes left until tip-off. Peterson has been out since the Wisconsin game on Feb. 11 with a pulled hamstring. Davis has missed the last three games with a bruised left knee.

Davis will play, but Peterson remains unlikely, Iowa associate sports information director Steve Roe said.


UI basketball upgrade might need a sensible Plan B

February 26, 2009
The University of Iowa's North Gym, located in the UI Field House, now hosts the men's and women's gymnastics teams. (University of Iowa photo)

The University of Iowa's North Gym, located in the UI Field House, now hosts the men's and women's gymnastics teams. (University of Iowa photo)

Iowa’s athletics department remains committed to a $47 million plan to renovate Carver-Hawkeye Arena and add a new practice facility for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Publicly and privately, athletics personnel and insiders say it’s all or nothing for attaching the new practice facility to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Plans are to have shovels hit the dirt by late summer, with the facility completed in two years. Iowa has more than $8 million in pledged gifts thus far and hopes to gain $20 million for the project. Iowa hopes to retire the debt service with court-side seating, costing major contributors around $100,000.

But what happens if the economic slide continues? Will big-time donors still be able to contribute to Iowa’s elaborate plan if rock bottom is months or years away? Would Iowa consider walking away from this project and risk losing Coach Todd Lickliter if such a downturn occurs?

That’s why Iowa — at least privately — needs a sensible Plan B. And one possibility makes too much sense to ignore.

The campus’ new $70 million recreation center opens in summer 2010. Iowa’s swim teams will move from the aging Field House to an Olympic-caliber pool there. Most campus recreation sports will head to the new building as well.

By fall 2010, the Field House will have an empty pool area, plus the ancient North Gym. Many, if not most, athletes take classes in the Field House, and the building is less than one block from the primary dorms for athletes. Why not fill in the pool, upgrade the gymnasium and turn it into a massive indoor basketball, volleyball and gymnastics facility? It would be a cost-effective and perhaps better option for the university. Freshmen and sophomore basketball players on campus could have easier access to the gym than at one built a mile away at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Everyone acknowledges the current system does not work. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams practice at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, along with the women’s volleyball team. All three, along with the wrestling team, compete in the facility. Iowa’s men’s and women’s gymnastics teams also compete there at times.

Access to Carver-Hawkeye Arena is difficult at best, especially in the overlap period between basketball and volleyball. During a three-day weekend last fall, Iowa hosted two volleyball matches, four women’s basketball games, seven wrestling duals and a men’s basketball game. Iowa moved six wrestling duals to the North Gym, the first time since 1983 Iowa had wrestled in that building. Iowa’s men’s basketball team went to a private gym to practice, while its opponent, Oakland, practiced in the North Gym. Oakland’s coach called the accommodations at the North Gym “Godawful.”

A similar scenario unfolds next week. Iowa’s women’s gymnastics team, which splits its duals between the North Gym and Carver-Hawkeye Arena, will compete in its final home dual at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Iowa and Penn State men’s basketball teams, which compete the following afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, must final an alternative site to practice. That’s going to lead to a few angry basketball coaches.

In a tough economy, perceived need often appears extravagant. Iowa should spare no expense to give its teams an attractive, valuable and long-term practice facility. But Iowa should consider turning the historic venue into a cost-effective solution to this difficult problem. Carver-Hawkeye Arena can — and should — remain the game-day venue for all of Iowa’s winter sports, if the Field House becomes an all-encompassing practice facility. That way, the overlap is manageable.

Uncommon problems often dictate common-sense solutions.  Renovating the Field House for the basketball program might help Iowa overcome the congestion at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and save serious money and goodwill in the process. That goes for something in today’s economy.


Iowa stays close to league leader

February 25, 2009

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter isn’t calling it a moral victory, but he’s taking more positives than negatives from last night’s loss at No. 9 Michigan State.

Depleted with guards Jeff Peterson and Jermain Davis injured and out, Iowa (14-14, 4-11 Big Ten) kept pace with the Spartans in a place considered somewhat of a torture chamber in recent years for Iowa. Michigan State (22-5, 12-3) won 62-54, but it was the first time since 1997 Iowa hadn’t lost by at least double digits in East Lansing.

“We knew we had to play extremely well,” Lickliter said. “There were stretches where we did. You’ve got to take some positives out of this. You’re never satisfied with a loss, but you’ve got to take some positives and be a better team.

“I’m proud of the way our guys have adjusted and helped one another and the kind of effort that they’ve given.”

Guard Jake Kelly scored 20 points, and like his 23-point effort against Michigan on Sunday, Kelly became more efficient as the game progressed. At halftime he had seven points and five turnovers. He had just one turnover in the second half.

“I think Michigan State’s defense kind of makes you hurry your shot,” Kelly said. “They’re long and they’re athletic, and you’re afraid they’re going to block it. I was turning it over early, and I wasn’t leading by example.

“But in the second half, I think I just settled down and hit some shots.”

Iowa stayed with Michigan State throughout much of the second half despite three guards playing all 40 minutes. After Michigan State took a 12-point lead with 16 minutes, 20 seconds left in the game, Iowa gradually cut its deficit to five points at 48-43 with 8:23 left.

But Iowa couldn’t keep it up.

Iowa struggled to get stops defensively in the midst of effective offensive play. Michigan State scored on 10 of 12 possessions midway through the second half to keep the Hawkeyes at bay.

The rest of Iowa’s offense joined Kelly with a much more efficient second half. Iowa shot just 35 percent from the floor in the first half, but improved to 55 percent in the second half.

“Coach told us to shoot with a purpose,” said Iowa freshman Aaron Fuller, who scored 10 points. “If we’re open, just take it. We’re short-handed, so we can’t afford to pass up shots. We shot with confidence.”

Iowa took its only lead of the game at 9-8 on a Kelly 3-pointer. Iowa’s first three buckets were all 3-pointers. Iowa also got a lift from senior post Cyrus Tate, who played 17 minutes and scored seven points. Both totals were his highest Jan. 3, a game before spraining his ankle against Minnesota.

While Iowa was encouraged in defeat, Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo was smarting in victory. He was aggravated with the Spartans’ effort and execution.

“We’re not playing like a team that has a chance to play for something special,” Izzo said. “We played like we didn’t respect them. And that happens. They’re a hard team to play against.”

Despite losing its 10th straight road game, Iowa’s players and coaches walked away with good feelings after playing close with the Big Ten leader.

“I’m not going to hang my head on this one,” Kelly said. “This was a hard-fought game. We gave them everything we had. They’re a top-10 ranked team. To be within 10 points ain’t bad.”


Follow updates from Iowa-Michigan State

February 24, 2009

Follow me for updates before and during Iowa’s game at Michigan State tonight via Twitter. Follow me at http://twitter.com/ScottDochterman

As of Tuesday, Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said guards Jermain Davis and Jeff Peterson won’t play. Davis has a bruised left knee, while Peterson suffered a pulled right hamstring two weeks ago.

Lickliter said he plans to play Cyrus Tate about 7 minutes per half, like against Northwestern three weeks ago. Tate played 4 minutes against Michigan on Sunday, his first action since the Northwestern game.

Expect Jake Kelly, the Big Ten’s reigning player of the week, to run the point again. Matt Gatens and Devan Bawinkel will play the other guard slots, while Aaron Fuller and Jarryd Cole will play the post.


Kelly’s performance prompting Iowa point guard controversy?

February 23, 2009

IOWA CITY – Jake Kelly’s multi-faceted performance at point guard Sunday may re-open Iowa’s discussion at the position for both the short and the long term.

Kelly, a sophomore from Carmel, Ind., earned him the Big Ten Player of the Week Award on Monday. He is the first Iowa player to win the award since Cyrus Tate won it almost a year ago.

Kelly scored 23 points, dished nine assists and grabbed eight rebounds – career highs in all categories – to lead Iowa to a 70-60 overtime win against Michigan. Kelly, who stands 6-foot-6, usually plays an off guard for Iowa (14-13, 4-10 Big Ten) but slid over to the point. Sophomore point guard Jeff Peterson has missed Iowa’s last two games with a pulled right hamstring. Junior guard Jermain Davis, who had played the point in Peterson’s absence, is out indefinitely with a bruised left knee.

Following Sunday’s game, Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter was asked by a reporter if he expected Kelly’s performance. Lickliter cut the question short. “Are you asking why I didn’t do this earlier?” Lickliter said with a laugh. “I don’t blame you. In the way that we play, he was handling the ball a lot anyway.”

On Monday, Lickliter was asked if moving Kelly to the point could become permanent.

“Right now, it’s in Jeff’s absence obviously,” Lickliter said. “But we’re always open to what will help team progress.

“Jake obviously has done a very good job in being able to fill it. We’ve gone through a few guys, and as I said (Sunday) our perimeters usually handle quite a bit. Even though we relied on Jeff to initiate the offense, our perimeters handle it. I think there’s a certain comfort level for Jake.”

Kelly said after Sunday’s game that he enjoys playing point guard because he can dictate the game’s tempo. He seemed more efficient as the game progressed. Iowa slimmed down most of its offense and ran primarily motion sets. Kelly had just two turnovers – both in the first half – and played all 45 minutes. He scored nine points in overtime, including seven points on three of Iowa’s first four overtime possessions.

“We ran some sets but a lot of it was high ball screens and things like that,” Kelly said. “(We were) trying to get help on the roll down low with Matt (Gatens) rolling up, and that allowed us to drive lanes and kick out.”

Kelly got everyone involved, from the post to the perimeter. He assisted four of post Jarryd Cole’s five inside baskets. Kelly’s other five assists netted 3-point baskets for Iowa. He also defended against Michigan’s Manny Harris, the Big Ten’s second-leading scorer, and held him to nine points.

“Jake’s concern is helping his team win,” Lickliter said. “He showed that (Sunday).”

Kelly likely will run the point again this week, this time at league leader Michigan State. Both Peterson and Davis are day-to-day, Lickliter said, but Davis could miss more time with his injury. Along with the hamstring pull, Peterson has played with a broken left wrist, which he suffered at Ohio State on Dec. 31. Peterson’s wrist will require surgery following the season.

“I really think Jeff, I believe, he’s getting close,” Lickliter said. “I do think (the hamstring pull is) an injury that could linger and nag for a long time.

“Jeff as all of our guys I’m sure, but Jeff I’ve seen, he can play with the some pain. What we’re trying to do, we don’t want to do any damage. So once (Iowa trainer) John (Streif) feel like he’s past that point, I’m sure Jeff will be available. I don’t know how much, but it’s just one of the things that nags. He can have a setback. We’re just going to have to be patient with him.”

Peterson had played at least 33 minutes in every Big Ten game before the hamstring injury. He has 106 assists to 79 turnovers and averages 10.6 points a game. Kelly averages 10.3 points, has 76 assists and 66 turnovers this year.


Kelly wins Big Ten award

February 23, 2009

From the Big Ten:

Jake Kelly earns his first weekly laurel after delivering a clutch performance in Iowa’s dramatic overtime victory over Michigan in the Hawkeye’s only game last week. The Hawkeye sophomore played all 45 minutes in Sunday’s contest and posted 23 points, eight rebounds and nine assists – all career highs. Kelly was also a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line. With the game knotted at 56-all after regulation, Kelly scored seven of Iowa’s first nine points in the extra period to give the Hawkeyes a commanding 65-58 lead with 2:17 left to play. With the win, Kelly helped the Hawkeyes improve to 2-0 in overtime this season.


Iowa overcomes injuries with tenacious effort

February 22, 2009

Iowa (14-13, 4-10) shook off a 14-0 first-half run, rallied from a four-point deficit in the final minute and clamped on the Wolverines’ offense on the final possession of regulation.

 

 

In overtime, it was nothing short of relentless. Iowa scored on its first four possessions, including seven points from sophomore Jake Kelly. Iowa forced Michigan post DeShawn Sims to miss four overtime shots while the Hawkeyes sank all four attempts. All of this done with four players who played the full 45 minutes and only seven overall.

 

Kelly, a sophomore, produced an award-winning effort punctuated with statistics. Kelly slid from off-guard to the point and had career highs in points, assists and rebounds. He scored 23 points on 8 of 17 shooting, pulled down eight rebounds and dished nine assists. He played every minute.

 

“I didn’t know I had those stats, but I just tried to go make plays. We needed it,” Kelly said. “My teammates had a lot of confidence in me and tried to get me the ball and set up some good screens. … I got some mismatches on some big guys. I felt like I could raise up and shoot or take it to the basket.”

 

Kelly hadn’t played point guard since his freshman year in high school, one year after playing center on his eighth-grade basketball team. Sunday, he seemed to get more efficient with each possession at the point. He had only two turnovers, and none in the second half or overtime.

 

“I like it,” Kelly said about point guard. “I think I like to control the tempo. Sometimes I push it up, other times I slow it down when I’m tired. But I just kind of like that.

 

“I made some mistakes early, but I adapted and definitely there are some things I need to work on in that position, but I think I’m getting better.”

 

Kelly also had to guard Michigan’s Manny Harris, arguably the Big Ten’s most dynamic offensive player and second-leading scorer. Kelly stifled Harris throughout the game, holding him to nine points and producing the game’s most important defensive stop.

 

With the score tied 56-56, Michigan held the ball for the final shot. Iowa tightened its defense around the perimeter, and Harris had the ball with only a few seconds left. Kelly played Harris face up, and Harris launched a 25-foot 3-pointer that missed its mark, sending the game into overtime.

 

“He likes to drive right, and you know I was stepping on his right side and not letting him go,” Kelly said. “So he pulled up a deep shot and faded away, and I like my odds with that one.”

 

Michigan Coach John Beilein benched Harris for the overtime period, and Kelly buried the Wolverines. Kelly hit a jumper, a 3-pointer and scored on a drive on three of Iowa’s first four overtime possessions. He closed out Iowa’s scoring with a pair of free throws. He scored nine of Iowa’s 14 overtime points.

 

Kelly’s effort might have been special, but it wasn’t unique. Freshmen Matt Gatens (16 points) and Aaron Fuller (seven) joined junior Devan Bawinkel (12 points) in playing all 45 minutes. Sophomore Jarryd Cole (10 points) played 38 minutes. Senior post Cyrus Tate played for only the second time in 11 games, registering four minutes and two points. Junior David Palmer also spelled Cole for three minutes.

 

“Most of us knew we were going to play close to 40 minutes,” Gatens said. “We didn’t think 45, though. Those extra five minutes, it’s fun and it’s good for the fans and it’s good to come out on top.

 

“It’s a big win for us.”


News on Chipola’s Armstead, Davis out, new uniforms and other Iowa notes

February 22, 2009

The casualty count rises with each game for Iowa.

Guard Jermain Davis bruised his knee Thursday in practice and was barely able to walk that day. He won’t play today against Michigan.

That means Iowa’s top three point guards are all out. Starter Jeff Peterson pulled a hamstring 11 days ago at Wisconsin. His back-up and former starting off-guard Anthony Tucker is ineligible this semester. Davis backed up both players and has started several games this year.

Senior Cyrus Tate may play today in a limited capacity after missing nine of the last 10 games with a sprained ankle. Guard Jake Kelly likely will play point for most of the game with Matt Gatens or even Devan Bawinkel occasionally bringing up the ball. That means Iowa probably won’t run many sets, just a lot of motion.

Iowa is sporting bright new yellow uniforms for this games. The long-rumored switch from white to yellow was widely anticipated for a select few Iowa fans.

Now, back to basketball news.

Chipola (Fla.) Junior College guard Malcom Armstead, a recruit with heavy Iowa speculation, will visit Arkansas after the season, according to www.cbssports.com. You can read the article at http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/messages/chrono/13690209

“After my visit, I’ll probably commit,” Armstead told the Web site. “I played in Real Deal on the Hill (at Fayetteville, Ark.), and I saw the gym and the community and how nice the people were there.”

That’s tough for Iowa, which still has one scholarship to offer next year.


Basketball revenue shows rapid decline at Iowa

February 21, 2009

IOWA CITY — Iowa’s men’s basketball program has stumbled on the court in recent years, advancing to just two NCAA tournaments since 2001.

Financially, the program has faded even faster. For the last four , Iowa’s men’s basketball program’s profits have tumbled by $2.2 million the last four years. From ticket sales to total revenues and profits, the program is in a monumental slide that affects nearly every sport at the university.

In the 2005 fiscal year, Iowa’s men’s basketball program generated a $6 million profit with revenues exceeding $10.6 million. In 2008, men’s basketball revenues slowed to $9.255 million and expenses soared to nearly $5.5 million, giving the program a profit of less than $3.8 million, according to figures provided to The Gazette by Iowa through the Freedom of Information Act. Some of that drop is because of an accounting change that shifts about $1 million annually from basketball revenue to general revenue. But that change doesn’t affect attendance or ticket sales.

Iowa is on pace to post its worst attendance season in recent history. With three home games left on its schedule, the men average 10,372 fans a game. That’s about 400 fewer per game than last year, which is lower than at any time since 1980. And those attendance figures combine tickets sold with fans attending games with free or reduced tickets.

Iowa’s ticket revenue has plummeted to even greater depths. In the 2005 fiscal year, the men’s basketball team generated more than $4 million in ticket revenue. That number drifted to $2.85 million last year. This year, it’s headed even further down.

“I think we’ll see another little drop,” said Rick Klatt, Iowa’s associate athletics director for external affairs. “Ticket sales were flat or had a little drop, and we have not had single-game sales at the full price that we would have needed. There’s lots of reasons for that.”

In an effort to stem the hemorrhaging ticket sales and recover some revenue, Iowa began offering $10 ticket general-admission tickets for the final five home games. That has helped lift Iowa’s attendance average by more than 500 — Iowa had averaged 9,858 fans before the surge. Also, Iowa allowed student season-ticket holders to bring a friend to each game for free.

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta endorsed the change as a chance to reclaim revenue.

“When we’re talking about our bottom-line budget and we’d taken a look at what we’ve sold so far, we just decided that this made the most sense and it was the right time to do it,” Barta said after the $10 ticket plan was announced.

Barta said he and Iowa’s athletics administration have three goals for changing the ticket policy.

“One is to help out people in tough times by making a very affordable price,” he said. “Two, selfishly, we want people to come out and support what I think is a very young and up-and-coming team. We want to fill the arena.

“Third, we want to make sure we get closer to meeting budget because right now, it doesn’t take much to figure out that our numbers are down and that does affect the budget.”

Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter has little to do with the marketing or financial profile of his basketball program. He just wants to fill the arena.

“I really wasn’t involved, but I did look under our basket, and I wanted some people back there so I think it’s filled that need,” Lickliter said. “I don’t know about all the different marketing strategies. I’ve heard (about) the $10 tickets, maybe that really played a part in it. And if so, hey, I’m just glad they’re there and we did something to get more Hawkeye fans in there. … As a basketball coach, you just let them (the fans) in. You want your fans.”

The reasons are plentiful for Iowa’s attendance decline. Some fans blame former Coach Steve Alford. Others blame Lickliter or his team’s defensive style of play. Ticket prices, the economy, last summer’s natural disasters, winter weather, game times and walking distance from parking lots also are factors used when officials or fans explain why attendance lags.

By providing cheap tickets and some freebies, Iowa administrators hope to grow its future base. Klatt calls it “a sampling opportunity.”

Slow ticket sales isn’t exclusive to Iowa. Indiana has offered $5 balcony seats, and Klatt pointed to Northern Iowa’s sluggish crowd against Drake on Wednesday where only 5,109 fans showed for an instate game with Missouri Valley Conference title implications.

“I think that’s evidence we’re all feeling economic pressures,” Klatt said. “But I think there’s a lot to be said for us operating in the Corridor, who really took the brunt of the tornadoes and the floods.

“We’re under even deeper pressure because a big chunk or our audiences just aren’t in the mood or aren’t deciding to get out and attend basketball.”

Both Klatt and Barta said the department will re-examine the basketball program following the season. That could include different marketing strategies, ticket prices or an assortment of possibilities.

“One of the things that I think we need to make sure of not doing in intercollegiate athletics is taking for granted someone’s entertainment dollar,” Barta said. “Everything is on the table; we’re just trying to make it a better experience.”


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