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.


Iowa basketball’s best, worst moments: Nos. 10 and 9

March 16, 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 the upcoming week, I’ll rank the top and worst moments of the season — two every day. Here are the N0. 10 and 9 best and worst moments of the 2008-09 men’s basketball season.

No. 10 Best: Cyrus Tate’s effort against Indiana, Jan. 3

Iowa's Cyrus Tate leaps for the basket between Tom Pritchard (left) and Matt Roth (right) of Indiana during the game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, January 3, 2009. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Iowa's Cyrus Tate leaps between two Indiana defenders during the game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan 3. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Tate scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in a 65-60 win against Indiana in Iowa’s Big Ten home opener. Tate’s performance came in front of his mother, who had watched him play collegiately only once. It came in front of his sister, who lives in New York and never had seen him play. 

“I’m psyched for them to be here,” Tate said after the game. “It’s always good to have your family come and watch you play.”

At the time it seemed like a precursor to Tate’s season. Unfortunately for Iowa, it was his best moment of the season. In the Hawkeyes’ following game against Minnesota, Tate severely sprained his right ankle eight minutes into the game. He missed nine of the next 10 games, and failed to reach his ascending level of play when he did return.

No. 10 worst: Tate goes down, Iowa falls apart against Minnesota, Jan. 8

Iowa's Cyrus Tate (44) lies on the court after injuring his knee during the first period of their game against Minnesota at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009.

Iowa's Cyrus Tate (44) lies on the court after injuring his knee during the first period of their game against Minnesota at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 8, 2009. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Iowa blew a 13-point, first-half lead in a three-point loss to Minnesota at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. But as previously mentioned, the loss was secondary to Cyrus Tate’s severely sprained right ankle.

Tate, Iowa’s senior post and co-captain, struggled with pain and swelling for two months. It nearly ended his season. 

“I want to get out there and play but what can I do about it?” Tate said in mid-February. “I plan on playing, continue playing basketball after this. This is a bad situation to be in, because I want to be able to contribute to our team and help out and be a presence for our team. But right now it’s something that I just can’t rush. You’ve got to let it take its time.”

Tate played for 13 minutes at home against  Northwestern, but was shelved for two more games when the injury re-aggravated. He finally returned back to the lineup for good on Feb. 22. 

No. 9 Best: Bawinkel’s 24-point barrage against Ohio State, March 3

Iowa's Devan Bawinkel (15) pulls up for a three-point shot over Ohio State's Walter Offutt (3) and Jon Diebler (33) during the second half of their college basketball game Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Bawinkel went 8 for 13 from behind the three-point line and Iowa lost the game 58 to 60.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Iowa's Devan Bawinkel (15) pulls up for a 3-point shot over Ohio State's Walter Offutt (3) and Jon Diebler (33) during the second half March 3, 2009 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Bawinkel went 8 for 13 from behind the 3-point line and Iowa lost 60-58. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Iowa junior Devan Bawinkel nailed eight 3-pointers in 13 attempts, one 3-pointer from tying former 3-point bomber Chris Kingsbury’s record of nine. But Iowa’s Jermain Davis’ layup attempt was swatted away with 7 seconds left. Davis then missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to seal the loss.

Bawinkel tied freshman Anthony Tucker for the most points in a game this season with 24. Every one of Bawinkel’s attempts that game were from beyond the 3-point arc. He finished the season sinking 52 of 144 3-point attempts. He shot only five two-point attempts and scored just one two-point field goal during the season.

No. 9 Worst: Giving Indiana its only Big Ten win, Feb. 4

Iowa center David Palmer (2) is fouled by Indiana guard Devan Dumes as he goes up for a shot during the first half  of an NCAA college basketball game in Bloomington, Ind., Feb. 4, 2009. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Iowa's David Palmer (2) goes up for a shot in Bloomington, Ind., Feb. 4, 2009. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Iowa trailed by as many as 20 points with less than 12 minutes left against the rebuilding Hoosiers at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Iowa rallied to cut the Hoosiers’ lead to three points with 44 seconds left.

Iowa couldn’t finish the ultimate comeback. The Hawkeyes suffered two turnovers in the final 30 seconds to give Indiana its only Big Ten win this season 68-60.

Iowa had 14 turnovers in the game and hit just 30 percent of its 3-point attempts. Indiana, conversely, sank nearly 54 percent of its 3-point shots and 49 percent of its overall field goals.

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.

Tate finished at Iowa?

February 19, 2009

Senior co-captain Cyrus Tate said he hopes to play again for Iowa this year, but his future seemed more on his mind Thursday.

“I want to get out there and play but what can I do about it?” Tate said. “I plan on playing, continue playing basketball after this. This is a bad situation to be in, because I want be able to contribute to our team and help out and be a presence for our team. But right now it’s something that I just can’t rush. You’ve got to let it take its time.”

Tate injured his right ankle Jan. 8 against Minnesota. He sat out the next seven games before playing 13 minutes against Northwestern. He apparently reaggravated the injury in that game and has not played since.

“(The ankle) responded OK but the next day was brutal,” Tate said. “You play teams that play more of a one-on-one type of offense. On defense, it’s easier for me to guard a team like Northwestern where they play zone and you can stand there really and don’t have to do much. You don’t have to move and go off back screens and stuff.”

Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said following Iowa’s last game against Purdue that trainer John Streif has given Tate the go-ahead to play, if he can tolerate the pain.

“He doesn’t say he’s 100 percent, either,” Lickliter said.

“I just have to believe that (the ankle is) limiting (Tate). There’s no other question about it. I’m not going question why or whatever it’s because he can’t tolerate the pain. I think with basketball it’s continual — cutting and jumping and I think it’s the wear on it. It ends up setting him back.”

It’s unlikely sophomore point guard Jeff Peterson will play against Michigan. He has yet to practice with his pulled right hamstring.

“There’s still a chance, I don’t know how good it is,” Peterson said. “Hamstrings are a little tricky. You feel good one minute and the next it’s pretty sore.”

Tate, Peterson injury update

February 16, 2009

Iowa sophomore point guard Jeff Peterson and senior post Cyrus Tate remain out indefinitely with their injuries. Luckily for Iowa, the Hawkeyes don’t have a game until next Sunday at home against Michigan.

“If we had to play today, I’m not sure either one would be available,” Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said Monday. “There’s progress being made, and we’re hopeful with the week off, maybe they both be available on Sunday. There’s no guarantee on that.”

Tate injured his right ankle on Jan. 8 and has been able to play in just one game since the injury. Iowa was 11-4 with Tate before the injury and has won just two of 11 in the games following. Iowa beat Northwestern in the only game Tate has competed in since his injury.

“It’s interesting with him; it’s up and down,” Lickliter said after Saturday’s 49-45 loss to Purdue. “I think it’s caused by getting on it. He doesn’t respond well to activity.”

Peterson strained his right hamstring against Wisconsin and did not play Saturday against Purdue. Peterson had played at least 33 minutes in every Big Ten game prior to his injury.

“I think it’s a strain, and they’ve done everything,” Lickliter said Monday. “I think they really are really nagging. The problem is it’s kind of like Cyrus’ — the activity is going to aggravate it — and so you’ve got be careful as far how much and how soon you get back. (Trainer) John Streif will be on top of it.”

Tate’s injury baffles many, including Lickliter. Tate often works out about two hours before the game and appears to move without limitation. But the ankle later doesn’t respond.

“Doctors are saying if he can tolerate it, he can go,” Lickliter said Saturday. “But (Tate) didn’t feel like he could tolerate it and be effective, and I respect that. He’s a tough guy, so I know it’s really sore. Those can linger.”

Tate doesn’t play again

February 11, 2009

Iowa post Cyrus Tate took part in warm-ups, but his right ankle swelled up and he couldn’t go Wednesday night at Wisconsin.
“He was really sore today,” Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said. “I just did not want to set him back again. After shoot-around, he just did not have the mobility.
“I think all of you who have watched Cyrus know that when he plays, he is going to give you everything, so I was concerned that we were just going to give him another setback.”
Tate missed seven games with a severely sprained right ankle. He returned on Saturday against Northwestern and started. He played 13 minutes and scored two points.
“He was available (against Wisconsin), but I did not think it was a good decision (to play him),” Lickliter said.

Tate a big factor in wins and losses

February 10, 2009
Iowa's Cyrus Tate jokes around with teammate J.R. Angle before their  Big Ten Conference basketball game against Wisconsin Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Iowa won the game 73-69 in overtime. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Iowa's Cyrus Tate jokes around with teammate J.R. Angle before their Big Ten Conference basketball game against Wisconsin Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Iowa won the game 73-69 in overtime. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Cyrus Tate’s playing status impacts Iowa’s win-loss record.
Iowa (13-11) is 12-4 in game Tate finishes. The Hawkeyes are 1-7 with an overtime victory in those games he doesn’t play or finish. It’s not that his statistics are that impressive —7.1 points, 6.2 rebounds — it’s his on-court demeanor and leadership that give the team confidence and his offense precision.
“Cyrus does things that we might not write about but are instrumental to success,” Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said. “What we might call small things if we didn’t realize how important they are.”
Those “small things” include a swagger in the post on defense. Tate, who stands 6-foot-8, gets into position and locks down his opponent. Offensively, he’s the designated screener. He often doesn’t touch the ball with scoring opportunities unless his competitor forgets him in a pick-and-roll situation. The picks he sets are crisp and effective, allowing guards to move freely in space and kick out to a perimeter shooter.
“When we practiced the day before Northwestern, it was really very apparent to me that he’s in tune. He understands what we want,” Lickliter said. “I hope I didn’t take that for granted before, but I really believe he’s got a good feel for it, how to be a good teammate, how to help his team and what that might mean.”
Tate, a senior co-captain, suffered a severely sprained right ankle against Minnesota on Jan. 8. Iowa led the Gophers when Tate’s injury occurred, about eight minutes into the game. Iowa couldn’t hold the lead and lost 52-49. Iowa went on a free-fall with three double-digit losses over a seven-game span. Tate tried multiple times to play, including workouts about two hours before each game. But each time the ankle swelled grew more painful with each step.
Tate’s status changed last week against Northwestern. He could finally move laterally enough to try and play. He started, played 13 minutes, grabbed five rebounds and scored two points. Tate snagged rebounds on two of Northwestern’s first four possessions. His performance gave Iowa an emotional boost that helped guide Iowa to a five-point win.
“Cyrus is a great leader, just himself being a person who brings the team up with great morale,” said Iowa sophomore Jarryd Cole, a fellow co-captain who splits time with Tate in the post. “He helped contribute to the win.”
Tate wanted to play more against Northwestern, but trainer John Streif allowed him to play just seven minutes a half. It provoked one minor outrage by Tate in the first half, but he cooled off, composed himself and re-entered the game later.
“I felt like I could have played a lot last game,” Tate said. “I think (Streif) did a good job to limit minutes and get this ankle back healthy. “The past seven games I missed it’s hard not being able to come out and not go out and contribute with the team. But it’s a pretty good feeling to get a standing ovation from the fans.”
Tate avoided icing the ankle following the game and uses a cream to keep the area loose. He takes Motrin to reduce inflammation and wears an uncomfortable brace that travels halfway to his knee. But he’s keeping his spirits high in hopes to play as many minutes as possible tonight at 14-9 Wisconsin.
“I think each day is getting better,” Tate said. “I feel a little bit more flexibility in that ankle each day. I’m just getting treatments in and hopefully be a hundred percent next week.”