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.


PTL observations, June 22 edition

June 22, 2009

I covered tonight’s Prime Time League matchup pitting UNI center Jordan Eglseder’s team against incoming Iowa freshman Brennan Cougill and his squad.

It was pretty much a mismatch despite what the statistics say. Eglseder, a 7-foot-1 incoming senior, scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Cougill scored 24 pounds and had 11 rebounds. But Eglseder sat out much of the second half and dominated Cougill in the first half.

Cougill had only one rebound and no assists in the first half. Eglseder was much more powerful and Cougill didn’t have any answers for him.

“I wasn’t hitting my shots,” Cougill said. “I wasn’t aggressive enough. I wasn’t rebounding. All around, it wasn’t a good game.”

Cougill, who stands 6-foot-9, is obviously talented. He passes the ball well, is a good outside shooter and has a good inside game. But it was clearly man vs. boy when he faced Eglseder. It’ll benefit Cougill in the long term to face Eglseder. This winter he’ll face Eglseder in a real game along with even more talented post players like Iowa State’s Craig Brackins, Michigan’s DeShawn Sims and Pudue’s JaJuan Johnson. Taking lumps now only will help Cougill in the future.

The game belonged to incoming Iowa freshman Eric May, who scored a game-high 26 points on 11 of 13 shooting. He sank a pair of 3-pointers and had one thunderous dunk. He was competitive, physical and athletic.

Iowa incoming sophomore Matt Gatens watched the game with his father, Mike, only a day after Matt Gatens had an appendectomy. Matt Gatens won’t play in the PTL for at least a week. Iowa incoming sophomore John Lickliter suffered a sprained left ankle last week in a PTL game and was in a walking boot. It’s undetermined when he’ll return to PTL action.


Random PTL videos, a look ahead to the Cougill-Eglseder matchup

June 19, 2009

 

Incoming Iowa freshman Brennan Cougill gets his first real taste of major college basketball on Monday when he faces Northern Iowa’s Jordan Eglseder.

Cougill won’t be able to match up physically with Eglseder, that’s pretty much obvious. Eglseder stands 7-foot-1 and weighs about 300 pounds and has been played Division I basketball for several years. I’m just interested in how Cougill uses his skills to combat Eglseder’s advantages. If Cougill can compete for rebounds, make good passes, hit shots in the paint and the perimeter and play good defense, it will be telling toward his development this year.

Cougill plays for Vinton Merchants, which includes future Iowa teammate Anthony Tucker and UNI’s Kerwin Dunham and Jake Koch. Eglseder plays for Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys, which includes incoming Iowa freshman Eric May, Iowa’s John Lickliter and UNI’s Brian Haak. That game begins at 6 p.m. Monday in the older gym at the North Liberty Recreation Center.

Here’s some random PTL action from Wednesday:


PTL round two tonight: Tucker vs. Gatens

June 17, 2009

Tonight’s Prime Time League game has a few interesting match-ups. I think tonight I’m going to focus on Team No. 1 (Jill Armstrong) against Team No. 6 (Vinton Merchants). It’s at 6 p.m. in the new gym at the North Liberty Recreation Center.

Team No. 1 features Iowa’s Matt Gatens, the Prime Time League’s top overall pick, and at least four players with past, current or future Northern Iowa ties. Gatens scored a league-high 27 points in the opener, while teammate Matt Schneiderman, formerly of UNI, hit 25.

Team No. 6 boasts current Hawkeye Anthony Tucker, former Iowa player Darryl Moore and future Hawkeye Brennan Cougill. I want to watch Tucker tonight to see if his strength and conditioning have paid off. He was a dynamite outside shooter early in Iowa’s season before his illness, suspension and ultimate banishment for poor grades. I’ll chart a few notes about Cougill, but I’m really interested to see how he competes against UNI’s Jordan Eglseder next Monday.

I’ll throw down a few observations tonight shortly after the game and then write a story for Thursday’s version of The Gazette.


PTL analysis from first night, Cully Payne video interview

June 16, 2009
Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing's Cully Payne (3) pulls up for a shot over Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys' Jordan Stoermer (23) 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 Cully Payne (3) pulls up for a shot over Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys' Jordan Stoermer (23) 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)

A few thoughts on last night’s game featuring multiple Iowa, Northern Iowa and other collegiate players:

I was impressed with incoming Iowa freshman Cully Payne. He’s young and hasn’t had to guard Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas or Michigan’s Manny Harris, but Payne brings the right temperament and swagger to the the point guard position. He’s listed at 6 foot (he might be a shade under), but he moves well with and without the ball. He’s left-handed, physical and has a decent shot. He can push the ball up the court or slow it down in a half-court set. He’s a different player from Jake Kelly or Jeff Peterson in that he’s a natural point guard.

Iowa’s Aaron Fuller carries more weight and looks much stronger. As a freshman last year he weighed 199 pounds. He’s now heavier than 220. That strength will help him defend power forwards in the post. That weight could be good for one more rebound and two more points a game. That could be a four-point turnaround in any game.

Iowa’s Devan Bawinkel still prefers the outside shot. Bawinkel, an incoming senior captain, caught the ball on the left wing about 17 feet from the basket.  He took three dribbles toward the hoop and could have pulled up for an eight-foot jumper or even drove to the hoop but instead passed the ball to the top of the key. He may need to hit a few jumpers when they’re available, even if they’re not beyond the arc.

UNI’s Anthony James and Antonio Jones are explosive, much more than any of Iowa’s guards or forwards. They combined for 32 points and could really move the ball up and down the court. Jones, a junior-college transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, averaged 11.5 points last year in the Jayhawk Conference, the best juco league in the country. I think Jones can be real good.

Incoming Iowa freshman Eric May is better than advertised. He can play inside and outside. He’s competitive and explosive. During one offensive set, May, who stands 6-4, took the ball and charged at ex-UNI center Eric Coleman, who is four inches taller and probably 60 pounds heavier. May lowered his shoulder like a fullback and ran into Coleman, drawing a surprising blocking call. Coleman had an irritated look and neither player slapped hands after the play. May scored 20 points and I can see him challenging Fuller and Devan Archie for serious minutes at power forward this year.

UNI’s Jordan Eglseder showed great touch from the outside, along with solid inside skills. Eglseder, who stands 7-1 and weighs about 300 pounds, scored 25 points and was active at both ends of the court. I’m really interested to see how he competes against incoming Iowa freshman Brennan Cougill on June 22.


Initial thoughts from the PTL in North Liberty

June 15, 2009

My initial thoughts from the Prime Time League on Monday:

I covered the game pitting Cully Payne, Aaron Fuller, Devan Bawinkel on one side and Jordan Eglseder and Eric May on the other. Payne, the point guard, was terrific in his debut. He distributes the ball well, has good movement and can shoot from the outside. He’s unselfish and gets other players involved in the game. He’s a major asset for the Iowa program, although it’s too early to tell at what level he will impact the team.

Fuller is much bigger and stronger inside. May is a hard-nosed kid who’s unafraid of going after the ball. Eglseder has slimmed down and looks solid.

Payne’s team won 89-74. Payne scored 12 points and had two assists. Eglseder led all scorers with 25 points.

At some point this evening I’ll have video of Payne and my story for Tuesday’s paper up and online.


Payne makes debut tonight in PTL

June 15, 2009

With fewer teams this year, the Prime Time League looks more competitive and more interesting. Tonight, I’m planning to cover the Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurry’s (Team No. 4) vs. Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing (Team No. 5) matchup.

In real terms, I want to see incoming Iowa freshman Cully Payne run the point for No. 5. He’s playing with future teammates Aaron Fuller and Devan Bawinkel, along with Northern Iowa’s Anthony James, Marc Sonnon and Antonio Jones. The No. 4 team features UNI’s Jordan Eglseder and Brian Haak and Iowa’s Eric May and John Lickliter.

I’m planning to cover all of the PTL games this summer so if you’ve got questions, fire them away.


Title IX interpretation is shrouded in gray

May 9, 2009

Members of the UNI baseball team watch the action on the field during the Corridor Classic on April 28, 2009 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids. UNI won 9-3.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Members of the UNI baseball team watch the action on the field during the Corridor Classic on April 28, 2009 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids. UNI won 9-3. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — Interpreting Title IX is more gray than black and white for many college athletics departments.

Such is the case at Northern Iowa, where 57 percent of UNI’s students are female, but more than 61 percent of UNI’s student-athletes are male. That’s usually a red flag for advocates of Title IX, a federal law which prohibits sex discrimination in schools — and athletics departments — that receive federal funding.

Title IX was designed to offer male and female student-athletes equal treatment and opportunities. According to the National Women’s Law Center, equal opportunities are defined as “the percentages of male and female athletes are about the same as the percentages of male and female students at the school; that the school has a history and a continuing practice of expanding athletic opportunities for female students …” and “the school is fully meeting female athletes’ interests and abilities.”

Like most universities, UNI offers an interest survey to students to ensure it meets Title IX obligations. In 2005, UNI offered the survey to female students but only about 17 percent returned it. That puts the school in compliance but on shaky ground, UNI Athletics Director Troy Dannen said.

“Typically the way Northern Iowa has measured compliance is through a survey, and if you’re meeting the interests of the students, then you’re in compliance,” Dannen said. “Really, you’re not. It doesn’t make you any more in compliance; it just means there’s nobody on campus that really wants anything else from an opportunity standpoint.

“The true intent of Title IX was the proportionality, about plus or minus 5 percent.”

Dannen planned to alter the school’s Title IX makeup when he arrived on campus about a year ago. Some of those changes include managing roster sizes. The men’s track and field team boasted more than 100 members during the 2008 fiscal year. Although the track program offered only the NCAA maximum in scholarships, the program’s participants fit into the Title IX equation.

“Our men’s track and field numbers have doubled in the last three years,” Dannen said. “When you’re out of equity compliance, a male sport can’t be doubling its numbers. We have to manage those squad sizes.”

UNI currently offers 18 sports, which includes indoor/outdoor track and cross country, although those sports fall under the track umbrella. Citing a $600,000 reduction in university aid next year, UNI will drop baseball after this spring, which will help the school’s gender-equity numbers.

“(Title IX) didn’t influence the decision on baseball other than because we’re so far out of whack proportionally,” Dannen said. “When the funding was going to be there, women’s rugby has a place on campus. It’s a strong program, and what I said when I was introduced, the intent was to grow the women’s participation and given where we were headed financially before this big lop, we were headed on a path to be able to do that.”

Excluding a likely reduction in men’s track numbers next year, more than 56 percent of UNI’s athletics scholarships will go to men.

“We’re going to get those numbers back under control,” Dannen said. “The proportionality looks not at scholarship dollars, although that is a component. It really looks at opportunity to participate.”


Changes coming to Prime Time League

May 7, 2009
Incoming Iowa freshman basketball player Aaron Fuller of Lucky Pawz/Premier Investments looks for a way past  Goodfellow Printing/Imprinted Sportswear's Greg Brunner  in a Prime Time league game at the North Liberty Community Center on June 25, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Incoming Iowa freshman basketball player Aaron Fuller of Lucky Pawz/Premier Investments looks for a way past Goodfellow Printing/Imprinted Sportswear's Greg Brunner in a Prime Time league game at the North Liberty Community Center on June 25, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Prime Time League director Randy Larson said the league will have only six teams this year to ensure stronger play.

Northern Iowa will bring 12 players to the league, and all of Iowa’s players will compete. That includes six scholarship holdovers from last year’s team and the team’s four incoming scholarship players.

The influx of new players adds to the league’s intrigue entering summer play, Larson said.

“Not only are we curious as to whether Coach (Todd) Lickliter is getting it turned around, but we’re curious about whether these Iowa kids can come in and be Big Ten starters as freshmen,” Larson said. “We’re curious about the point guard from Illinois (Cully Payne). We’re curious about the junior-college power forward (Devon Archie). There’s a lot of things to be curious about. This is your only chance to find out before November is this summer up in North Liberty for six weeks. I think there will be more people there than ever.”

Larson said the games will be more competitive and each team will have at least one more Division I player. But the cuts will cost the league about 20 players.

The league begins June 15 and lasts through July 27. Games are played Mondays and Wednesdays, but the schedule has changed allowing for two games one week, then only one the following week. Larson said that change was suggested by UNI Coach Ben Jacobson, whose players often car pool for the games and spend about 3 hours in the car traveling to North Liberty.

Lickliter had discussed the Prime Time League and its inadequacies during a press conference in early March. Now, he’s changed his mind and confirmed his players will compete in the Prime Time League this summer, which is held at the North Liberty Recreation Center.

“The thing that concerned me more than anything was just … I wanted to develop a real sense of urgency and a competitiveness of it,” Lickliter said. “Sometimes I felt like with the league you played a game and now it’s over and there wasn’t any (penalty for losing). Whereas if you play pick-up games and if you lose, you have to sit out.”

Lickliter and Larson discussed the league’s format, and that satisfied Lickliter.

“What I’m looking for, and I think what Randy is going to do, is emphasize the competitiveness of it,” Lickliter said. “Hopefully, just by emphasizing it and just by being competitive, and getting the right guys, I think we’ll be OK. I think it’s the right way to go.”

Lickliter told the media in March about his time at Butler University in Indianapolis when former players would return to play pick-up games in the summer against current players. He preferred that type of basketball.

“I’ve mentioned this before, when you’re in a city, you have players coming back,” Lickliter said. “You have more access to players and so open gyms are easier. It’s not quite as easy (in Iowa City).

“I can the see the need for Prime Time and why it was started and … Randy’s a competitive guy he doesn’t have any problem emphasizing the competition.

Tryouts are held at noon June 6 at the UI Fieldhouse. 

“They’ll be up there if they get drafted,” Lickliter said with a laugh.


UNI athletics has used reserves to balance past budgets

May 6, 2009

 

UNI Offensive Coordinator Rick Nelson celebrates after the team's victory over Maine at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Nov. 29, 2008. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

UNI Offensive Coordinator Rick Nelson celebrates after the team's victory over Maine at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Nov. 29, 2008. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

 

CEDAR FALLS — A $600,000 drop in university funding to the Northern Iowa athletics department led to elimination of the school’s 103-year-old baseball program. But reducing one sport doesn’t absolve UNI athletics from future financial problems, either.

The athletics department has used its financial reserves to cover past shortfalls. According to financial records sent to the NCAA and obtained by The Gazette through the Freedom of Information Act, UNI athletics showed a $251,000 surplus during the 2008 fiscal year, the most recent year with complete data. But it also listed more than $222,000 in revenue taken from endowment and investment income. A private audit of UNI’s athletics department listed $34,545 in expenses over revenue that fiscal year.

“The athletic department has used its reserves to balance its budget, and there are no reserves to be able to do that any longer,” UNI Athletics Director Troy Dannen said. “We have to make sure our budget is balanced just based on what we do.”

During the 2008 fiscal year, UNI’s athletics department listed revenues of nearly $16.6 million, with expenses totaling $16.347 million in the NCAA report. However, institutional support and student fees totaled nearly $6.6 million, or almost 40 percent of its revenue.

“Most schools of our ilk, I-AA schools, still operate at 50 to 60 percent of their athletic department’s operating budget is coming from institutional support,” Dannen said. “That’s student fees plus general fund support.”

During the 2008 fiscal year, football provided the most revenue — and carried the largest financial burden. Football brought in nearly $2.7 million in revenue, but spent more than $3.2 million. Football earned nearly $885,000 in ticket sales and $330,000 in guarantees from a road trip to Iowa State that season. But it also received nearly $400,000 in student fees and more than $727,000 in institutional support.

Men’s basketball was the only moneymaking sport that year, with nearly $325,000 more in revenue than expenses. But it received more than $510,000 in student fees and institutional support.

Dannen is focused with maximizing revenue in football and men’s basketball and said each sport has potential to do so. Dannen cited four primary revenue streams in athletics: corporate gifts, gameday sales, donations and university/state support. Even with the $600,000 hit in university/state support, he said the said the department’s financial outlook is good.

“Football revenue was up $300,000 this year and the crowds were smaller,” Dannen said. “It’s just that elasticity point of where the price is and the crowd. There’s a lot of upside from the football standpoint.

“Basketball, we’re averaging 66 percent of capacity, and we have a good program right now so we have opportunity there. Given the strength of the program — that’s the blessing in all of this — that while we’re losing on one end of things (direct university support), the department’s uniquely in position to have strong revenue-generating football and basketball (programs).”

Streamlining costs also will help UNI’s financial profile. UNI receives $400,000 to play at Iowa this fall and will pay for only a bus trip. The school received a similar guarantee last year to play at Brigham Young, but spent much of that revenue in travel costs.

As for the other sports, such as wrestling, women’s basketball and volleyball, Dannen said there is revenue potential.

“Even if we look at our wrestling revenue numbers, even if you double those, it’s not going to off-set, significantly off-set the expenses,” Dannen said. “I’m looking at revenue potential in football and men’s basketball. There’s greater revenue potential in women’s basketball and volleyball right now. “


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