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:

Cougill video interview, talks on Tucker

June 18, 2009

In the world of tighter newspaper space, these paragraphs were among the casualties that didn’t make the Thursday edition of The Gazette.

Incoming Iowa freshman Brennan Cougill talked about Anthony Tucker’s toughness and intensity while running the point. Here’s what Cougill had to say:

“He looks to hit you when you’re open and if you don’t finish, he’s going to let you know about it,” Cougill said. “He won’t necessarily be nice about it, but he’ll get on you to the point where you know you’ve got make that. It’s something that you don’t want to break, that trust he has, giving you the ball and expecting you to score.”

Last year few criticized Tucker’s shooting prowess but there were questions about his defense and ball-handling. To Cougill, those questions are almost above reproach.

 “He’s a great defender,” Cougill said. “He shot it (well), obviously. He’s a better ball-handler than people give him credit for. It’s just that knack to make the big play with Tucker. It’s a big part of his game.”

Here’s a video of Cougill talking about other issues following his team’s game Wednesday night:

Impressions from PTL, second game with video

June 17, 2009

I watched Anthony Tucker’s Vinton Merchants beat Matt Gatens’ Jill Armstrong squad 102-95 tonight in the Prime Time League. Tucker shot lights out, scoring a game-high 29 points and hitting six three-pointers. Gatens scored 22 points, tying former Upper Iowa player Nick Kramer for the team high.

A few thoughts:

Tucker played mostly at point guard and had four assists. He’s a good passer, not as quick as incoming freshman Cully Payne but makes good decisions. He’s a natural shooting guard and it appears he and Payne will make a decent backcourt this season.

Gatens played the point for his team and did just about everything. He was the most complete player on the court, which hardly surprises anyone. He’s a natural leader and appears to have taken that responsibility on the court. He’ll have to wait a year before he can officially assume that role with Iowa.

Cougill has a finesse game for a big man. He can shoot from the outside and passes the ball better than most big men. Cougill has a tough transition to make, much more so than a guard. Cougill has to compete against big men like former Drake player Aliou Keita and, on Monday, against Northern Iowa’s Jordan Eglseder. He’s got a ways to go in the physical department but has slimmed up and should be a good role player this year.

I caught up with former Iowa City High player Malcolm Moore, who was ruled ineligible right before a Little Hawks’ district tournament game. Moore, who plays for Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurry’s in the Prime Time League, graduated from high school and will attend Tyler (Texas) Junior College, the same school that produced Justin Johnson, Kurt Looby and Nate Garner. He hopes to develop skills as a big man and would like to come back to the state in two years.

I will post a video later from an interview with Cougill.

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.

Tucker seeks redemption on basketball court

May 19, 2009
Iowa's Anthony Tucker sits on the team's bench during their Big Ten Conference basketball game against Wisconsin Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Tucker missed the second semester of the 2008-09 season due to academically ineligiblity. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Iowa's Anthony Tucker sits on the team's bench during their Big Ten Conference basketball game against Wisconsin Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Tucker missed the second semester of the 2008-09 season due to academic ineligibility. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY – To achieve redemption, one must go through a difficult experience and come back stronger. Anthony Tucker understands that concept.

In a 30-day period he fell ill with mononucleosis, was arrested for public intoxication and lost his eligibility. He takes responsibility for his errors and looks forward to redemption.

“I knew what I did to get myself into this situation and stuff,” he said. “I didn’t need motivation or a success story because it’s going to be my own success story.”

Tucker’s success story begins this weekend. He passed all of his classes and likely will regain his eligibility Wednesday. He’ll travel with Iowa’s seven-player squad to Italy and Greece on a four-game exhibition tour that begins Sunday. It’ll be his first game action as a Hawkeye since mid-January, and it feels way too long for him.

Tucker led Iowa in scoring through the first month of the season. He scored 24 points against West Virginia, tied for the team’s highest-scoring output this season. But he became sick shortly after and played sluggishly in Iowa’s next two games.

Then, on Dec. 7 he was found unconscious in a downtown Iowa City alley after a night of excessive drinking. He was suspended for 12 days and pleaded guilty to public intoxication.

Those incidents were concurrent with academic problems. He passed all of his classes, but a low grade-point-average silenced his eligibility.

“There was one class that I wasn’t sure about,” he said. “I was kind of worried about it, and then I ended up doing fine in that class, but another class came up at the end. I wasn’t worried about not playing; it was more of getting a grade up. I didn’t think it was actually going to happen. I always thought, ‘Wait until the last second and you’ll be fine.’ But I had a feeling halfway (through the semester). It was a change of events, but the same result.

“I put myself in a lot of tough situations which you never want to do. But it happens. And I tried my best to get through, it but unfortunately it was a little bit too much all at once and my play kind of showed that.”

Tucker said he and Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter spoke often about his eligibility status in the interim period between semesters, calling it “an understanding.” Tucker entered games late against Minnesota and Michigan, hoping to either provide a spark offensively or save other players’ strengths.

“Obviously he’s not going to take time away from the guys he’s sure he’s going to have throughout the season,” Tucker said.

Tucker became ineligible in January and sat out the second semester. He practiced every day with Iowa, donning a different colored jersey than the starters. He hit the weight room four days a week and gained 15 pounds of muscle. He’s quicker with his feet and still has his venomous outside shot.

Lickliter praised Tucker for turning a tough situation into a positive. Lickliter said Tucker has “done a terrific job” in the classroom.

“You get bitter or better, and he chose to get better,” Lickliter said. “He did individual instruction. He went into the weight room four times a week. He worked hard in the classroom. I’m really proud of Anthony Tucker.

“Let’s not forget how well he was playing before semester break.”

Tucker averaged 20 points a game through Iowa’s first five games. He started eight of 14 games and ended up with a 10.4 scoring average, still among Iowa’s best. He’ll move from off-guard to point this season, especially after three point guards left the team following the season.

Tucker said he now knows not to take anything for granted. He’s matured through the process. There are success stories like Iowa football players Amari Spievey and Shonn Greene who overcame academic ineligibility to achieve on-field success. But asking them about their redemption isn’t Tucker’s style.  

“I knew I was going to get through it; it was a matter of buckling down and doing it,” he said. “I didn’t really go to anybody for advice of asking them what it was like because it didn’t matter to me. I was going to do it regardless.”

Through the grades, the arrest and the sickness, Tucker achieved his own form of redemption just by stepping on the basketball court. But that’s not how he defines success. That’s another story for another day.

Lickliter names captains, talks about recruiting

May 6, 2009
Iowa guard Devan Bawinkel guards an Indiana player on Jan. 3, 2009 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa guard Devan Bawinkel guards an Indiana player on Jan. 3, 2009 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

MARSHALLTOWN — Iowa’s basketball captains for next year are junior post Jarryd Cole and senior guard Devan Bawinkel, Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said tonight.

Cole, a 6-foot-7 post, played in all 32 games last year and averaged 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds a game. Cole joined graduating senior Cyrus Tate as co-captains last year.  Cole started a bit slow coming off knee surgery but started nine games.

Bawinkel , a 6-5 perimeter guard, played his first season at Iowa last year after transferring from Highland (Ill.) Community College. Bawinkel played in every game and started nine. He averaged 4.8 points a game and shot a team-high 139 3-pointers. All but five of his shots were 3-point attempts.

“I think they’re showing terrific leadership,” Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said Wednesday at the Marshall County I-Club banquet at Elmwood Country Club.

Lickliter said recruiting efforts for the upcoming season are ongoing, and he’s got a recruit coming in this weekend. Lickliter declined to say if this recruit was for 2009 or 2010. Sources close to the program say the player visiting is a transfer from another Division I program who won’t be eligible until the 2010-11 basketball season.

We’re still recruiting,” Lickliter said. “There are some out there. I’m really comfortable with the group we have. Would you like to have a little more depth? Yeah, but I’ve been here two years now, and we haven’t given out 13 scholarships. Yet I’m not that concerned about that.

“We will have a visit this weekend. I don’t know for sure how that will play out.”

Iowa currently has 10 players under scholarship for the upcoming season. Along with Cole and Bawinkel, Iowa returns sophomores Matt Gatens, Andrew Brommer, Aaron Fuller and Anthony Tucker, who likely will regain his eligibility following semester finals. Entering the program this year are incoming freshmen Cully Payne, Eric May and Brennan Cougill, along with junior-college transfer Devon Archie, a junior. Iowa also has red-shirt freshman John Lickliter, the coach’s son.

Four players from last year’s roster — guards Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson, Jermain Davis and forward David Palmer — left the program.

“Having 11 is probably thin, but it’s very manageable,” Lickliter said. “It’s not important how many (players) you have, but who you have. And I really like who we have, and I like the spots that we have filled. At least now I feel that we have a good grasp of where we’re at and what our needs are and who’s going to be involved. I think you can really paint a much clearer picture for our recruiting efforts.

“We could (add another player). I wouldn’t say it’s pressing or that it’s guaranteed. But we could.”

If Iowa adds a transfer from another school, the player must sit out for a season but likely will be placed under scholarship. Iowa has three scholarships available for this fall and has one commitment for the 2010 season — Sioux Falls (S.D.) prep Cody Larson.

Iowa also has added a walk-on for the upcoming season. Nick Neari, a 6-3 guard from St. Charles (Ill.) North High School, is a close friend of Payne. He averaged 14 points a game in suburban Chicago.

Lickliter said he can’t comment on walk-on players.

“You can say that we’re going to have some (walk-ons), but they have to arrive, enroll and be on the roster. No different than a recruit.”

Lickliter talks about upcoming trip

April 17, 2009

Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter met with about 150 fans in Boone at the Boone-Story County I-Club meeting Wednesday. Along with recruiting and other topics, Lickliter also talked about the team’s upcoming trip to Italy and Greece in late May. Here’s the video:

Iowa will take seven players on the trip, including walk-on freshman John Lickliter. They include upcoming senior Devan Bawinkel, upcoming junior Jarryd Cole, upcoming sophomores Aaron Fuller, Matt Gatens, Andrew Brommer and Anthony Tucker.

Lickliter talks about scholarships, ‘postponed’ visits

April 15, 2009

BOONE — Iowa men’s basketball coach Todd Lickliter anticipates filling at least one of his three available scholarships but not at any cost.

“I’d rather have an open scholarship than to have somebody who’s either unhappy or doesn’t fit,” said Lickliter on Wednesday at the Boone-Story County I-Club event. “So we’ll be patient and continue to recruit hard — if it’s the right one. I’m not opposed to signing all of them, and I’m also not opposed to not making a move. I anticipate we’ll make another move.”

Wednesday, Iowa officially signed Schaumburg (Ill.) prep guard Cully Payne. Iowa still is waiting for the official letter of intent from Vincennes (junior college) forward Devon Archie. Iowa’s scholarship availability comes after four players with eligibility left the program shortly after the season.

Iowa originally had a visit scheduled Friday with Chipola (Fla.) Junior College guard Malcolm Armstead. But Armstead canceled the trip and instead will visit St. John’s in New York City.

Lickliter wouldn’t discuss Armstead or any player not officially signed with Iowa, per NCAA rules.

“All I can really say is they’ve (the visits) been postponed,” Lickliter said. “I can’t comment any more than that, but they’ve been postponed.

“It’s a funny thing. You have to deal with what is, and just deal with the facts and be thankful for what you do have. What I continue to say is the group we have, I’m so excited about and so that’s where my focus is right now.”

Lickliter couldn’t comment on Archie, but he raved about Payne, a 6-foot-1 point guard. Payne originally committed to DePaul while in eighth grade, but changed his mind last year. Payne then signed with Alabama but was released from his scholarship after Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried resigned.

Lickliter said he targeted Payne last summer when Iowa held a basketball camp. But the camp was cancelled when floods devastated Iowa City last June.

“It was somebody that (Iowa assistant coach) Chad Walthall had known about him,” Lickliter said. “We knew him, we were always impressed with the way he played the game and what he brought to it and when the opportunity came, it made a lot of sense. It makes sense to him, and I love that. When it makes sense to both of you, and you agree, then we knew it was a great fit.

“You never know what’s going to happen, and so we didn’t anticipate it (Payne becoming available). But I think it was probably a benefit of Chad’s efforts through the years.”

Payne averaged more than 22 points and seven assists last year before suffering a stress fracture in his back. Payne told The Gazette last week when he committed to Iowa that he compares his style of play with perennial NBA all-star Steve Nash.

“He plays at a great pace,” Lickliter said. “He’s very competitive. He’s a very capable scorer, but he’s not defined by that. He doesn’t have to score to feel like he’s successful. So I think he’s somebody who gives us a lot of poise in the back-court and our other guys are working extremely hard.

“I think we’ve got positions filled that are going to complement one another, and I’m excited about the chemistry of this team. And he adds to that.”

Archie, a 6-foot-8 sophomore from Indianapolis, averaged 6.8 points and six rebounds last season for Vincennes. He started 19 of 30 games. Lickliter wouldn’t comment about Archie.

“We’re expecting one other (signing) but the rules are until it’s in hand, you can’t make comments,” Lickliter said.

Iowa signed two players last fall: Dubuque Wahlert guard/forward Eric May and Sioux City Heelan center Brennan Cougill. Returning to the team next fall are incoming sophomores Matt Gatens, Aaron Fuller, Andrew Brommer and John Lickliter; junior Jarryd Cole and senior Devan Bawinkel. Current freshman Anthony Tucker, who was ineligible for the second semester, is on pace academically to rejoin the team.

Leaving the program were guards Jeff Peterson, Jake Kelly and Jermain Davis, and forward David Palmer. Cyrus Tate and J.R. Angle have graduated or will graduate in May.

Lickliter joined wrestling coach Tom Brands and other Iowa coaches at the first I-Club stop this spring. About 175 people showed up at the event. The Boone-Story I-Club includes Ames, home of Iowa State.

Players stand behind Lickliter

March 27, 2009

Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter confirmed Friday that four players with eligibility have asked for — and received — their release from the basketball program.

Those players are sophomores Jake Kelly and Jeff Peterson, and juniors David Palmer and Jermain Davis. Those players combined for 65 starts last year.

At least two of the remaining Iowa players stand behind Lickliter — at least publicly — and support him as the team tries to move past the turmoil.

“We’re behind coach, and I’ve enjoyed learning from him,” Iowa freshman Matt Gatens said. “He’s a great teacher of the game. It’s a been a joy playing for him. I’ve learned a lot of new things and tools, a lot of things I never even knew about the game and the system. It’s been a joy, and I think we all feel that way.”

Gatens was the only player to start every game for Iowa. Freshman Anthony Tucker, who joined Gatens and other players in attending Lickliter’s news conference. Tucker was ruled academically ineligible for the second semester and missed Iowa’s last 14 games.

Tucker supports Lickliter and said he’s excited about next year.

“I’ve heard some people said your best player left, your starting point guard left, but I wish them the best,”  Tucker said. “I don’t feel like we’re going to struggle as much as everyone thinks we are. We’re all excited to play next season.”

“We’ve got guys who want to be here, who want to work hard and are proud to be Hawkeyes. So I don’t know if we’re suffering at all.”

Iowa basketball’s Best/Worst moments: No.2

March 20, 2009

Iowa’s men’s basketball team finished 15-17 and 5-13 in the Big Ten. In a long season, there are always highlights and not-so memorable moments, particularly in a season that featured a little of both.

Over this week, I’ve rank the top and worst moments of the season — two every day. Today’s edition includes the N0. 2 best and worst moments of the 2008-09 men’s basketball season.

Coming Saturday: The best/worst moments of the season

No. 2 Best: Iowa beats Penn State in 2 OTs

Iowa's Jake Kelly, left, blocks a shot by Penn State's Talor Battle, right, during the second overtime March 7. Iowa won 75-67, in double overtime. (AP Photo /Matthew Putney)

Iowa's Jake Kelly, left, blocks a shot by Penn State's Talor Battle, right, during the second overtime March 7. Iowa won 75-67, in double overtime. (AP Photo /Matthew Putney)

Iowa had nothing to gain; Penn State, later spurned by the NCAA Tournament Committee, had everything on the line. That didn’t stop Iowa from earning the Big Ten’s biggest upset this season.

Nothing on the line? Tell that to Iowa sophomore Jake Kelly who woke up Saturday with a 101-degree body temperature and spilled his guts in a trash can 50 feet from the basketball court early in the second half.

Nothing on the line? Ask senior Cyrus Tate, who lugged a swollen right ankle up and down the court for 42 minutes.

Nothing on the line? Hard to tell at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where Iowa, the Big Ten’s 10th-best team, outfought, out-hustled and gutted out a 75-67 double-overtime win against Penn State in the teams’ Big Ten regular-season finale. If there was nothing on the line, Kelly wouldn’t have played. Tate wouldn’t have bawled his eyes out in the locker room. Matt Gatens and Devan Bawinkel wouldn’t have played 50 minutes.

“I think it was just the desire,” said Tate, who scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his final game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “I think all of the guys gutted it out, just said ‘OK, we’re going to take this; this is our home.’ I think guys just really had that mindset, that focus.’”

Kelly notched his fourth 20-point effort this season, finishing with 22 points, 11 assists and four rebounds — three of which were offensive. He’s scored at least 19 points in the last six games.

No. 2 Tucker’s woes stop Iowa

Iowa's Anthony Tucker sits on the team's bench against Wisconsin Jan. 21, 2009 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa announced on Wednesday that Tucker will miss the second semester of the 2008-09 season due to being ruled academically ineligible. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Iowa's Anthony Tucker sits on the team's bench against Wisconsin Jan. 21, 2009 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa announced on Wednesday that Tucker will miss the second semester of the 2008-09 season due to being ruled academically ineligible. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

No Iowa player shined brighter in the season’s first month than freshman Anthony Tucker. But in shocking fashion, all that promise was gone.

Tucker was ruled academically ineligible Jan. 21 and sat out the rest of the season. Tucker experienced a whirlwind first season with the Hawkeyes. He tied for the team’s highest scoring output of the season with 24 points against West Virginia. He hit seven 3-pointers at The Citadel. He averaged 17 points a game through his first six games. He was pure money from outside the arc.

Then it all fell apart. On Dec. 7, Tucker was found unconscious and intoxicated in a downtown Iowa City alley and was taken to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He was later charged with public intoxication and was suspended for 11 days.

The alcohol incident ran concurrent with mononucleosis, which fatigued Tucker on the court and in the classroom. His absence likely cost Iowa a game or two, and the Hawkeyes’ perimeter offense missed his outside shooting.

“It’s more frustrating for me knowing that I’ve felt like I’ve let my teammates and coaches down,” Tucker said. “The guys are doing their best. We don’t have a plethora of great shooters, but we do have a lot of guys that are great at a lot of other things and do their best to make plays. It’s just been frustrating knowing that I’ve let some people down.”

On the bright side, Tucker still practiced with the team and said his grades have improved. His health has improved, he’s gained strength and shoots 3-pointers in practice like they’re free throws. For Iowa’s program to succeed next year, Tucker is an integral piece in Coach Todd Lickliter’s puzzle.


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