Analysis of Iowa’s new basketball players, PTL videos

July 14, 2009

I’m getting a pretty good feel for Iowa’s new players and how they will contribute in the upcoming season. At the end of the Prime Time League this month, I will write a full analysis of how Iowa basketball shapes up entering the 2009-2010 season. But here’s a look at the newcomers and how I think they can contribute for Iowa.

Iowa coaches will expect only one of the four new players to start, while the other three will contribute in different roles. Freshman Cully Payne will start at the point. Freshman Brennan Cougill will see significant time in the post. Freshman Eric May will play in spurts but his time will be determined by real practice and the non-conference schedule in November. Junior Devon Archie will split time at power forward.

Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing's Cully Payne (3) brings the ball down the court during the team's game against Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys on the opening night of the Prime Time League, June 15, 2009 at the North Liberty Community Center.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing's Cully Payne (3) brings the ball down the court during the team's game against Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys on the opening night of the Prime Time League, June 15, 2009 at the North Liberty Community Center. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Payne (6-foot) will start and run the show for Coach Todd Lickliter. He’s got plenty of talent, but he’s young and will make mistakes. He’s the first true point guard under Lickliter and demonstrates more interest in running an offense and getting the proper players into position than his predecessors. Payne can shoot fairly well and can drive at times, too. He has struggled in the PTL with more athletic defenders, like Kirkwood’s Kaylon Williams, and can be beaten off the ball by quicker ball-handlers. I’d say he’s a little more skilled at the point than Jeff Peterson but has a lot to prove to match Peterson’s toughness. It’s likely he’s in for a long season squaring off against Penn State’s Talor Battle, Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas and Michigan’s Manny Harris. He’ll do OK but he’ll take his lumps.

Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys' Eric May (7) puts up a shot over Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing's Eric Coleman (53) during their game July 6, 2009 at the North Liberty Community Center.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys' Eric May (7) puts up a shot over Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing's Eric Coleman (53) during their game July 6, 2009 at the North Liberty Community Center. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

May (6-5) is a tremendous athlete. He’s perhaps the most versatile player on the team. He can play inside and outside. He guards at least four positions and brings as much intensity as any player on the court. He’ll contribute by playing hard, but he doesn’t have a defined position right now. I look for May playing about 15 minutes a game rotating from shooting guard to power forward at times.

Cougill (6-10) will see about 40 percent of the action in the post as a back-up to Jarryd Cole. Cougill is a skilled passer and a good shooter. He has decent moves in the post and works hard. He struggles against more physical big men. His conditioning also is improving, but not a strength. The good thing about Cougill is he’s aware of his deficiencies and working on them daily. Right now he’s more of a finesse post player but in two years could be a real solid inside player.

Iowa forward Devon Archie takes the ball up strong against Iowa post Brennan Cougill during PrimeTime League action at the North Liberty Community Center on Monday, June 29, 2009. (Benjamin Roberts/Freelance)

Iowa forward Devon Archie takes the ball up strong against Iowa post Brennan Cougill during PrimeTime League action at the North Liberty Community Center on Monday, June 29, 2009. (Benjamin Roberts/Freelance)

Archie (6-9) is the most athletic player on the team. He’s sleek, can jump and has good moves to the basket. He’s a decent passer and makes good attempts to set screens, a bonus in Lickliter’s system. But Archie doesn’t play real physical and doesn’t appear to fight for position under the basket. He’s a different player than sophomore forward Aaron Fuller, which will make for a good combination at the position. Archie compares favorably with former Iowa player Kurt Looby.

Bottom line: These players will contribute this year but won’t save the world. They likely will supplement their teammates and fill the required roles. Payne, Cougill and May will help build a foundation for Iowa’s future, but like many freshmen, they will experience the lows before the highs.

Here are a couple of highlights from Monday’s Prime Time League:


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:


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.


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.


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