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.