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

Big Ten officiating coordinator to hang it up

May 14, 2009

From the Big Ten Conference:

Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference office announced today that Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating Rich Falk plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2009-10 men’s basketball season. The conference office will begin the search process to find a new coordinator of men’s basketball officiating over the next several months.

Falk joined the Big Ten as an assistant commissioner in 1989 after an eight-year stint as the head coach of the men’s basketball team at Northwestern, his alma mater. He will manage the conference’s officiating program for a 21st season during the 2009-10 campaign, including the training, assignment and evaluation of all officials.

“Rich Falk has been an outstanding ambassador for the Big Ten Conference for more than two decades,” said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. “Rich has been responsible for one of the country’s top officiating programs while also working with various coaches and administrative groups and providing leadership as we launched our men’s basketball tournament in 1998.”

A graduate of Northwestern University, Falk joined the Big Ten after serving as the head coach of his alma mater from 1978-86. As a three-year letterman for the Wildcats from 1962-64, Falk ended his career ranked fifth in school history with 1,001 points. He was named All-Big Ten second-team and the team’s Most Valuable Player as a junior and senior and was also a member of the conference’s first Academic All-Big Ten team in 1963-64.


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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