Iowa losing four players and a recruit?

March 25, 2009
Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter sends Jake Kelly (32) into the game during the first half at Drake's Knapp Center in Des Moines on Dec. 20, 2008. Iowa lost 60-43.

Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter sends Jake Kelly (32) into the game during the first half at Drake's Knapp Center in Des Moines on Dec. 20, 2008. Iowa lost 60-43. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

   IOWA CITY – At least four members of Iowa’s men’s basketball program – all of whom started at least five games last year – are either transferring to another school or rumored to consider leaving Iowa.
   Guard Jermain Davis confirmed Wednesday he will transfer to Minnesota State-Mankato, a Division II school following the spring semester. Guard Jake Kelly, who twice was named the Big Ten’s player of the week, appears likely to leave for a school closer to his home in Indiana.
   People close to Jeff Peterson said the sophomore point guard is considering leaving for Missouri State, a school in his hometown of Springfield, Mo. Junior David Palmer, who graduates in May, also might leave the team.
   In addition, Marshalltown junior Chanse Creekmur, a 2010 recruit who committed to Iowa last August, decommitted from Iowa on Tuesday.
Kelly carries the highest profile. In Iowa’s final seven regular-season games, he averaged 20 points a game. Twice he was named the Big Ten Player of the Week in final three weeks of the regular season. He finished the season as the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer at 11.6 points a game.
   Kelly’s father, Bob, said Wednesday he didn’t want to comment about his son leaving the team – yet.
   “Well, I really haven’t been informed about any official announcement so I’d hate to comment,” Bob Kelly said. “I’d be glad once anything comes out about him leaving or what he’s doing. I just wouldn’t feel right stepping in front of Jake on that.”
   Attempts by The Gazette to reach Jake Kelly were unsuccessful. Kelly told HawkeyeNation.com he could neither confirm nor deny that he was transferring to another school.
   “I really can’t say right now,” Kelly told the Web site. “I’d really rather not talk about it right now.”
   Feb. 23, Kelly was named Big Ten Player of the Week after scoring 23 points, dishing nine assists and grabbing eight rebounds, all while playing 45 minutes in an overtime win against Michigan. He followed that with a pair of 20-point performances in losses at Michigan State and Northwestern. In the regular-season finale against Penn State, Kelly played 47 of 50 minutes in a double-overtime upset win against Penn State. He scored 22 points, dished 11 assists and grabbed four rebounds – all with a 101-degree temperature and a sinus infection.
   Kelly’s likely transfer contradicts what he told reporters March 9.
“Of course I considered that when my mom died, yeah,” Kelly said. “That’s probably where they get that from but this is where … I’m here, where I’m going to be.”
   Kelly’s mother, Julia, died in a plane crash last summer, and Kelly thought about leaving at that time. If Kelly transfers to a Division I school Indiana, he must sit out one year of competition.
   Davis, who now will play for his fourth college in four years, started 11 games and averaged 4.6 points this year for Iowa. He notified Coach Todd Lickliter on Monday about his decision.
   “I think it just wasn’t a fit really,” Davis said. “I didn’t really know my role. I didn’t understand it. Ultimately, what kind of made me make the decision was that I wasn’t happy.”
   Davis said he got along with Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter and didn’t have a problem with the coach personally. Lickliter met with players throughout Wednesday afternoon but was unavailable for comment.
Davis did say he didn’t like the team’s style of play and how he was used on the court. Davis will be able to play right away.
   “I felt like I did have a way short leash compared to other people,” he said. “I kind of felt like … I just didn’t have the chance to really showcase my game – except for one game.”
   Peterson started the season’s first 25 games before pulling his right hamstring and missing the final seven. He suffered a broken left wrist against Ohio State in the Big Ten opener. The wrist injury required surgery.
   Peterson averaged 10.6 points a game and led the team in assists. One person close to Peterson said “most likely” Peterson would go to Missouri State. If Peterson goes to Missouri State, he would have sit out one season.
   The defections are mounting for Lickliter, who will lose his three top leading scorers in three consecutive seasons should Kelly leave the school. Last year’s leading scorer, Tony Freeman, left for Southern Illinois. Within weeks of Lickliter’s arrival in 2007, Tyler Smith transferred to Tennessee. Freeman, an all-Big Ten third-team selection, averaged 13.8 points a game. Smith averaged 14.9 points and was named third-team All-Big Ten and to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
   Other players not returning in Lickliter’s tenure include Dan Bohall, who started seven games last year, didn’t return this year. Brett Wessels and Josh Crawford didn’t return following the 2007 season.


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.


Kelly addresses transfer rumors

March 9, 2009

Multiple posts on Internet message boards have Iowa sophomore guard (now star) Jake Kelly transferring to Indiana State after the season. Those posts suggest Kelly wants to return to his native state to be closer to his family, especially in the wake of his mother’s death last summer in a plane crash.

Kelly shot down those rumors Monday.

“Nope,” Kelly said when asked if those rumors are true. “It happened to me a lot in high school, too. I lived in a small town and all of them are big basketball fans and they all get on the Internet and like to act like they know me and stuff.”

Kelly admits he thought about moving back to Indiana to be closer to his father, Bob.

“Of course I considered that when my mom died, yeah,” Kelly said. “That’s probably where they get that from but this is where … I’m here, where I’m going to be.”


Kelly earns 2nd Big Ten honor

March 9, 2009

From the Big Ten:

Iowa’s Jake Kelly garners his second weekly award of the 2008-09 campaign on the heels of posting a pair of double-doubles last week to end regular season play. The double-doubles marked the first two of his career as the Hawkeye sophomore averaged 20.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in two home contests against Ohio State and Penn State. In Iowa’s opening matchup of the week, Kelly kept his squad in the game against the Buckeyes, netting 19 points and grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds. On Saturday against Penn State, he then paced the Hawkeyes with 22 points on eight-of-16 shooting from the field while handing out 11 helpers. The Carmel, Ind., native led his squad through two overtimes, connecting on clutch shots to pull out the win on Senior Day in Carver Hawkeye Arena.


My final Big Ten ballot

March 8, 2009

In the past week I’ve changed my mind so many times about all-Big Ten selections it has prompted a call from the Big Ten Conference. There’s about 30 players worthy of consideration for all-Big Ten honors. There’s also about eight players with whom I’d have no problem earning first-team honors.

With that in mind, and after a few preliminary ballots, here’s how I voted for the all-Big Ten teams and honor awards that will be released by the Big Ten Network on Monday.

FIRST TEAM

Kalin Lucas, Michigan State; Evan Turner, Ohio State; Talor Battle, Penn State; Manny Harris, Michigan; Mike Davis, Illinois

SECOND TEAM

Robbie Hummel, Purdue; JaJuan Johnson, Purdue; Jake Kelly, Iowa; Jamelle Cornely, Penn State; DeShawn Sims, Michigan

THIRD TEAM

Kevin Coble, Northwestern; Craig Moore, Northwestern; Raymar Morgan, Michigan State; E’Twaun Moore, Purdue; Jason Bohannon, Wisconsin

COACH OF THE YEAR

1. Bruce Weber, Illinois; 2. Tom Izzo, Michigan State; 3. Ed DeChellis, Penn State

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

1. Matt Gatens, Iowa; 2. William Buford, Ohio State; 3. Delvon Roe, Michigan State

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

1. Talor Battle, Penn State; 2. Kalin Lucas, Michigan State; 3. Evan Turner, Ohio State

Voting for the all Big Ten team was difficult to say the least. Before voting, I compiled a list of 30 players, then condensed it into groupings. I considered about 12 players for first team, and two of the best players — Purdue’s Robbie Hummel and Michigan State’s Raymar Morgan — missed significant time with injury or illness. It wasn’t easy.

Wisconsin (no Marcus Landry or Joe Krabbenhoft, ouch), Illinois (no Chester Frazier, Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale hurts) and Minnesota (Lawrence Westbrook and Al Nolen) were difficult because they had so many players of similar ability. Purdue (Chris Kramer) and Michigan State (Goran Suton) had players that were tough omits. Penn State (Stanley Pringle) was a toughie.

My picks are guard-heavy, and I switched multiple times between Battle, Lucas and Turner for the league’s player of the year. Ultimately, I went with Battle because I think he can do more and means more for his team than the others. That’s not a slight to Lucas or Turner, however.

Coach of the year was the easiest. Weber’s team wasn’t expected to compete for the Big Ten title after a sub-par 2007-08 season. Izzo sometimes suffers unfairly because everyone expects Michigan State to be good. The No. 3 coach selection was tough between Penn State’s Ed DeChellis and Northwestern’s Bill Carmody.

I had Buford slightly ahead of Gatens for top freshman honors until the teams met last Tuesday. Although their stats are similar, one intangible remains etched in my mind: Gatens doesn’t play with Evan Turner.

Kelly was a late jump, but if anyone thinks I’m home-towning him to second team, think again. He’s scored 19 or more points in the last six games, took over at the point without starting there all year and defends against his opponent’s best offensive player. That’s tough for anyone, particularly for a player with a broken finger and several other ailments. Plus, since he’s taken over the point, Iowa has played its best basketball all season.


Nothing on the line? Don’t tell Iowa

March 7, 2009

IOWA CITY — 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 Saturday afternoon.

Nothing on the line? Hard to tell at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday where Iowa, the Big Ten’s 10th-best team, outfought, out-hustled and just 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 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 (Saturday).’”

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.

Playing was the key objective for Kelly entering Saturday’s game. He didn’t practice Friday and is taking antibiotics for a sinus infection.

“When I woke up I had a 101, and I just thought, ‘No way,’” Kelly said. “I didn’t even go to pre-game meal or nothing. When I got here, I decided to play. We don’t have that many bodies. It was like, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’ I didn’t think I was going to play that much.’”

Kelly didn’t play the final 3 minutes in the first half, the first time in five games he left the court. Less than 30 seconds into the second half, he told assistant coach LaVell Jordan he was going to vomit. Jordan told Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter, who promptly called a timeout. Kelly left the court, vomited and ran back to Lickliter’s huddle. Kelly then played the rest of the game.

Kelly scored 16 points and dished eight assists after halftime. He gave Iowa a six-point lead with 1:40 left in regulation. He passed to Jarryd Cole under the basket for a layup with 10 seconds left to knot the score at 56-56 and send the game into overtime. But Kelly saved his best for overtime, scoring nine points — all 3-pointers.

With 55 seconds left in the second overtime and Iowa leading 68-67, Kelly shot from the top of the key and banked in a 3-pointer. It was his second 3-pointer off the backboard.

“I had no idea where those were going,” Kelly said. “I had no legs, nothing. I was blessed to hit those, that’s for sure.”

Post players Tate and Cole normally rotate but instead combined for 77 minutes, including both overtime periods. Cole had 14 points and 11 rebounds and hit all five shots from the field. Both were effective against Penn State’s constant switching on defense, giving Iowa choices in the post. It also gave Iowa a 43-32 rebounding edge.

“I think we complement each other well,” Cole said. “Whenever one of us attracts so much attention, it takes pressure off either one of us and either one of us are able to produce when that happens.”

“I think we unleashed a new weapon,” Tate said. “It gets a lot of pressure off me or Jarryd being down there all by ourselves trying to rebound. It gives some teams something to think about.”

The game’s other highlights — Penn State rallying from nine-point deficit with 2:39 left, Nittany Lions guard Talor Battle scoring 26 points, Senior Day festivities and Iowa edging last year’s average attendance totals by 100 (10,861) — paled compared to Iowa’s resiliency and determination. Iowa finished 15-16 and 5-13 in the Big Ten but had lost seven games by six points or less.

“It’s definitely fitting,” Kelly said. “We need it. It’s our time, I think. Maybe we’ll put some momentum going into the Big Ten tournament.”

“We’ve had some setbacks and some rough times and these guys never hung their heads or felt sorry for themselves,” Lickliter said. “They just seized the next opportunity.”

Nothing on the line? Tell that to Penn State, who could have soared to No. 2 in the Big Ten. Now, they could miss out on a bye for this week’s Big Ten Tournament.

Nothing on the line? Not if you play basketball at Iowa.


My all-Big Ten ballot

March 3, 2009

Voting for the all Big Ten team was difficult to sasy the least. Before voting, I compiled a list of 30 players, then condensed it into groupings. I considered about 12 players for first team, and two of the best players — Purdue’s Robbie Hummel and Michigan State’s Raymar Morgan — missed significant time with injury or illness. It wasn’t easy.

Wisconsin (no Marcus Landry or Joe Krabbenhoft, ouch), Illinois (no Chester Frazier, Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale hurts) and Minnesota (Al Nolen) were difficult because they had so many players of similar ability. Purdue (Chris Kramer, E’Twaun Moore) and Michigan State (Goran Suton) had players that were tough omits. Penn State (Stanley Pringle) was even a toughie. The No. 3 coach selection was tough between Penn State’s Ed DeChellis and Northwestern’s Bill Carmody. Likewise, the league’s balance added to the chaos.

Anyway, here’s how I voted for the all-Big Ten basketball team; I waited until after Tuesday’s Ohio State-Iowa game to officially submit it. so fire away with your thoughts, but let’s at least be civil.

FIRST TEAM

Kalin Lucas, Michigan State

Evan Turner, Ohio State

Talor Battle, Penn State

Manny Harris, Michigan

Mike Davis, Illinois

SECOND TEAM

Robbie Hummel, Purdue

JaJuan Johnson, Purdue

Jamelle Cornley, Penn State

Raymar Morgan, Michigan State

DeShawn Sims, Michigan

THIRD TEAM

Kevin Coble, Northwestern

Craig Moore, Northwestern

Lawrence Westbrook, Minnesota

Jake Kelly, Iowa

Jason Bohannon, Wisconsin

COACH OF THE YEAR

1. Bruce Weber, Illinois; 2. Tom Izzo, Michigan State; 3. Ed DeChellis, Penn State

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

1. Matt Gatens, Iowa; 2. William Buford, Ohio State; 3. Delvon Roe, Michigan State

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

1. Evan Turner, Ohio State; 2. Kalin Lucas, Michigan State; 3. Talor Battle, Penn State


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