PTL thoughts, July 6 (with video)

July 8, 2009
Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing's Aaron Fuller (24) pulls up for a shot over Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurry's Eric May (7) during their game on the opening night of the Prime Time league Monday, June 15, 2009 at the North Liberty Community Center.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing's Aaron Fuller (24) pulls up for a shot over Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurry's Eric May (7) during their game on the opening night of the Prime Time league Monday, June 15, 2009 at the North Liberty Community Center. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

I wrote about Eric May on Monday night, and he had a good performance. He scored 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished seven assists. He also showed his versatility by defending point guard Cully Payne, shooting guard Devan Bawinkel and power forward Aaron Fuller.

I was most impressed with Fuller, who notched 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. He’s stronger and more physical in the paint than last year. He also can shoot from the outside, hitting two three-pointers. Payne was up-and-down, scoring 22 points with eight assists. Bawinkel hit 4-of-6 shots — all three-point attempts — for 12 points. His style of game doesn’t transition well to the up-and-down Prime Time League.

I spent only a few minutes at the other game, where Matt Gatens returned in solid fashion. He scored 32 points, grabbed six rebounds and directed his team to a 100-81 win. He told me afterward he felt fine just two weeks after an appendectomy.


NFL Network vs. Big Ten Network in the dead zone

July 3, 2009

Slow doesn’t begin to describe this time of year for college athletics and the NFL. Having covered both for a significant period of time, I can tell you everyone associated with the NFL is on vacation during the July 4 holiday. Likewise, college officials usually are as far from campus as possible.

It’s only reasonable to expect two networks exclusively televising pro football or college athletics to struggle for relevant programming this time of year. To examine this, I went through the entire television schedule of both the NFL Network and the Big Ten Network beginning with Sunday, June 28 and ending on July 4. Here are my observations.

Both networks repeat programming the same way Clear Channel recycles songs and news stories on the radio. The Big Ten Network repeated programming 45 times during this week. That includes four telecasts of “Big Ten Legends: Lloyd Carr” and four airings of the 2009 Big Ten men’s tennis tournament. The NFL Network is much, much worse. It replayed its programming 90 times during the seven-day period.

The Big Ten Network is required to show campus programming, and this is the perfect time of year to do so. There were three airings of Purdue’s “Boiler Bytes,” and Northwestern’s “Student Concerto Competition.” Iowa varied its campus programming with shows on vitality, sustainability and “Getting Ready for the Boom.” I presume that’s a euphemism for the alarm clock to wake us from that programming, but I digress.

The Big Ten Network has done a good job of trying to shake up its replays by instituting campus-specific programming on different days. There have been (and will be again on July 12) Iowa days when the network airs past games in which Iowa was victorious.

During this sample week, the Big Ten Network devoted a day for Wisconsin. The programming included a 1999 Rose Bowl victory, a big basketball win against Maryland in 2000 and the annual hockey grudge match against Minnesota. There also was campus programming on the common cold (aahh-chew), international relations (is this the fishing zone between the U.S. and Canada?) and the mind of a psychopath (Wisconsin’s own Jeffrey Dahmer?).

On July 4, the BTN will air the league’s greatest football games of 2008, plus other football-related programming. Good move. Overall, it was a decent week for the network, which slowly is building its resume as one of the better sports networks on television.

The NFL Network is the reigning repeat champion. No other network outside of Headline News repeats its programming more than the NFL Network. It’s a shame because the NFL Network has so much potential.

During the June 28-July 4 sample week, the NFL Network was fairly predictable, based on past years. Sundays are filled with 90-minute replays from four games during a 2008 weekend From noon Sunday through 6 p.m. Monday, those replays ran 16 times.

The NFL Network’s daily trademark, “Total Access,” is a one-hour news/feature show that airs every weeknight at 6 p.m. Unfortunately, it re-airs and re-airs and re-airs some more. The Monday version aired 10 times. The Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday versions aired 12 times each. That’s way too much programming time to dedicate to one 60-minute show.

The network also re-airs other programming at an alarming rate. Tuesday night, the network showed two 30-minute and one 60-minute episodes of “NFL Game of the Week.” Those shows then re-aired nine more times.

On Monday nights (and usually on the following Saturday), the NFL Network airs a “Classic Game” with its original broadcasters. Unfortunately, many of the classics go back to 2008 or 2007. Since the 1970 merger, there have been 9,061 games NFL games played — 8,680 regular season, 381 postseason.

The NFL Network did schedule a weekend dedicated to its Emmy-winning documentary series “America’s Game.” Beginning at 5 a.m. on July 4, the network will air each episode of its Super Bowl champion series, followed by its “Missing Rings” series. That’s a tremendous idea, but the network should have started it earlier in the week to expose those fans who have yet to see it.

 

What the NFL Network does, it does well. It just doesn’t do it enough and it is much too repetitive. When Brett Favre returns again expect nothing the network to destroy all of its programming to show his first Packers’ game, the Monday night game following his dad’s death, the Packers’ Super Bowl XXXI win and last year’s Jets-Patriots Thursday night game on NFL Network.  The network did it when he retired, when he un-retired and then when he retired again.


Roy Marble Sr. ‘blown away’ by son’s decision

July 2, 2009
Roy Marble Jr. loosens up before a Southfield Lathrup (Mich.) High School basketball practice. (Detroit Free Press)

Roy Marble Jr. loosens up before a Southfield Lathrup (Mich.) High School basketball practice. (Detroit Free Press)

Roy Marble Sr. got the call Wednesday night, the one he didn’t expect but the one he always wanted.

His son, Roy Marble Jr., phoned to tell him his college choice. Roy Marble Jr., a senior at Southfield Lathrup (Mich.) High School, will follow his father at the University of Iowa.

“Man, words don’t even describe it,” Marble Sr. said Thursday. “We’re already close as it is. We probably talk more than we should sometimes. But to actually have him in front of me where I could actually pass on my knowledge in every area of growing up in college life and everything, God blessed me with a great kid.

“It’s like Christmas 10 times over.”

Roy Marble Sr. scored 2,116 points his career at Iowa from 1986-89. He’s the only player in Iowa history to score more than 1,800 points. He lives in Cedar Rapids and works as an analyst for the Big Ten Network and a consultant for Kirkwood Community College.

Roy Marble Jr. said he visits his father about three times a year. Marble Jr. said he and his father discussed his college choices but the younger Marble was able to make his own choice.

“He had his thoughts on it and stuff and helped with me the decision,” Roy Marble Jr. said. “I didn’t feel any pressure, though.”

Marble Sr. said he questioned his son about coming to Iowa during the recruiting process, primarily because of his own legacy. But his son stood up to him. Marble Sr. relented.

I laughed and said, ‘OK, you’re just like me. You’re going to take on the biggest challenge,’” Marble Sr. said.

Former Iowa basketball player Roy Marble drives to the basket in a 1986 game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Marble is Iowa's all-time leading scorer. His son, Roy Marble Jr., committed to Iowa on Thursday. (The Gazette)

Former Iowa basketball player Roy Marble drives to the basket in a 1986 game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Marble is Iowa's all-time leading scorer. His son, Roy Marble Jr., committed to Iowa on Thursday. (The Gazette)

But it wasn’t preordained that Marble Jr. would follow his father to Iowa. He attended an elite camp at the University of Michigan earlier this month. He visited Providence, liked Michigan, and had offers from Detroit and Dayton. But Marble Jr. was blown away by Iowa’s coaching staff. He’s Iowa’s third 2010 basketball commitment.

“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.

“I felt real comfortable when I came down here for a visit. I liked the environment.”

Marble Jr., a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, averaged 22 points, nine rebounds and 4.5 assists as a junior. He scored 28 points in a regional loss to a team featuring two Michigan State recruits. He’s confident in his abilities and what he can do for Iowa.

“I shoot the ball real well,” he said. “I attack the basket real well. I’m both a scorer and a slasher.”

Two weeks ago, both Marbles attended a Prime Time League game in North Liberty and received applause from the gym full of fans.

“They gave me a warm welcome and let me know how they feel about the situation,” Marble Jr. said. “It was cool.”

For Marble Sr., it’s nearly perfect. After losing his downtown businesses in the 2008 floods, he now has something exciting in his life.

“This is like my cash back in sort of thing,” he said. “This is bringing me some happiness in my life, rather than sitting around being sad. It takes my mind off of that. Now I can concentrate on being the best dad I can and get ready for some good old-fashioned Hawkeye basketball.”


Marble Jr. makes decision

July 2, 2009

According to both HawkeyeReport.com and HawkeyeNation.com, Roy Marble Jr. has committed to Iowa.

Marble Jr., son of Iowa’s all-time leading scorer Roy Marble, is the second 2010 commitment. Ben Brust of Mundelein, Ill., committed to Iowa on Wednesday.


Live blog today, video interview with Jarryd Cole

July 1, 2009
Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys' Jordan Eglseder (UNI, 53, right) tries to get past LL Pelling Company/Iowa Ready Mix's Jarryd Cole (Iowa, 50, right) during their Prime Time League game on Wednesday at the North Liberty Recreation Center. Cole scored 32 points, including 20 in the first half. Eglseder finished with 24.

Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys' Jordan Eglseder (UNI, 53, right) tries to get past LL Pelling Company/Iowa Ready Mix's Jarryd Cole (Iowa, 50, right) during their Prime Time League game on Wednesday at the North Liberty Recreation Center. Cole scored 32 points, including 20 in the first half. Eglseder finished with 24.

Mike Hlas, Marc Morehouse and I are live blogging from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. today about Iowa sports. That’s everything from football to hoops. Here’s the link:

Here are a few thoughts about last night’s Prime Time League action:

I’ve seen every player in the Prime Time League at least twice. So far, no player has impressed me quite like Jarryd Cole.

The Iowa junior has completely recovered from his knee injury as a freshman. He dominated UNI’s Jordan Eglseder in their head-to-head matchup on Wednesday. Cole scored 32 points, including 20 in the first half. He’s strong, intense and competitive. He’s also regained all explosiveness lost because of his left ACL tear two years ago. He’s also much quicker than most post players and tons better than he was last season.

Perhaps what impressed me the most after his last two games was how much Cole HATES to lose. He absolutely detests losing. Both games he sat by himself stewing after the game. He even tossed a remark to a couple of teammates about playing harder after the game.

Most PTL players compete like they would at the local YMCA. They play real hard on the court, then walk away like it’s a family game in the driveway. Not Cole. He’s everything Iowa needs right now from a leadership perspective.

Outside of Cole, I’d say I think Anthony Tucker has played well, and Eric May has impressed me with his strength and overall game.

In about a week, I’ll give my complete assessment of Iowa basketball right now, including the newer and veteran players. As you can imagine, Iowa basketball is a work in progress right now.


Ben Brust makes it official

July 1, 2009

Prep guard Ben Brust has chosen to play basketball at Iowa next year, he told me moments ago.

Brust chose Iowa over Northwestern, Stanford and Butler.

“It is official … I’m going to be Hawkeye,” Brust told me.

 

“I did all my homework, and I know this is what the right place,” he said. “It’s a great college town, the atmosphere … academically it’s what I’m looking for in a school.”

Brust, a 6-foot-2 incoming senior at Mundelein High School, averaged 28 points a game last year as a high school junior before breaking his leg. He said he’s completely healed from that injury.

Brust also is good friends with incoming Iowa freshman guard Cully Payne, who also is from the Chicago suburbs. Tuesday, the duo shot baskets at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and Brust said that helped seal his decision. Brust also is excited about competing in the Big Ten.

“The Big Ten is a major plus,” he said. “The fact you go into all these places and compete against all these opponents, that’s I want to do.”

Brust joins Sioux Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt’s Cody Larson as Iowa’s 2010 commitments. Iowa has two scholarships available and have offered them to Sioux City Heelan’s Zach McCabe and Roy Marble Jr., son of Iowa’s all-time leading scorer Roy Marble.


Iwebema ‘confident’ after growth removal

July 1, 2009

Former Iowa and current Arizona Cardinals defensive end Kenny Iwebema said he’s fine after a growth was removed from his chest. Here’s a blog by Arizona Cardinals beat writer Darren Urban on Iwebema.


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