November 27, 2014

Iowa ready for Black Friday matchup with Nebraska

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz (file photo)

Iowa and Nebraska came into the season hoping their Black Friday matchup would be for a division title but instead it is now a consolation prize.

The Hawkeyes will host the Huskers and the winner will finish third in the Big Ten West Division. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz hopes the atmosphere is close to last week’s game against Wisconsin as he says the crowd was “unbelievable” and says they will need the same thing again against Nebraska.

It is Iowa’s final chance to win a trophy game having lost to Iowa State, Minnesota and the Badgers. “We want them all, believe me. We lost another one Saturday, an opportunity to get one,” Ferentz says. “Winning conference games is real important for us. Any trophy game. we have 12 games, they’re all really critical in our minds. Not diminishing what the trophy means, it’s a lot better to have them in your building. It’s what a trophy stands for. That’s what’s really significant about it. It could be a bucket of eggs, it really doesn’t matter as long as you got it. That’s the whole thing.”

Like all coaches Ferentz is a creature of habit but says he has learned to enjoy the Black Friday game even though it makes for a shorter week of preparation. “I kind of like it actually on a couple fronts, at this time of year, I think it’s doable, realistically doable. Whereas, in the early part of the season, you need nine days to get ready for a game and they don’t give you that. That’s how it feels. Later in the year, if you’re doing things efficiently, it probably forces you to be more efficient. And that’s a good thing. The other part is you get to watch everybody sweat on Saturday sitting there with your feet up. So that’s not a bad deal,” according to Ferentz.

This game will feature two outstanding linemen in Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff and Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory. Ferentz says there may not be many head-to-head matchups, though as it didn’t happen very much last year.

Iowa saw its division title hopes come to an end with a 26-24 loss to Wisconsin. Ferentz says they came up short, but the team did respond and took the game down to the last minutes.

Iowa is 7-4. Nebraska is 8-3.

Cyclones move into championship game after downing Alabama

Georges Niang had 28 points and Naz Long added 15 as Iowa State held off Alabama 84-74 in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. The Cyclones improve top 3-0 on the young season.

“We had some stretches I’d sure like to forget out there, specifically coming out in the second half when they went to the zone,” ISU coach Fred Hoiberg says. But he says they got the pace back under control and held them to 38 percent shooting, which was a good sign

The Cyclones will play Maryland in tonight’s championship game. The Terrapins beat Arizona State 78-73. Hoiberg says they are really talented and he says they will have to come out and get prepared after a short night.


Hawkeyes move to 3-2 with win over Pepperdine

The Iowa Hawkeyes took control with an 11-0 run in the second half and went on to a 72-61 victory over Pepperdine in Iowa City. Aaron White led the Hawks with 17 points, Jarrod Uthoff added 15 as did junior guard Mike Gessell, who finished 3 of 3 from behind the arc.

“I was just looking to continue to be aggressive, I didn’t shot the ball particularly well in New York and I’m the type of player that is going to continue to be aggressive no matter what,” Gessell says.  With the victory the Hawkeyes improve to 3-2. Gessell says they lost to two very good teams in New York and they are not hanging their heads about that and now got the win over a good Pepperdine team.

Iowa hosts Northern Illinois on Wednesday night.


Hawkeyes look to stay in conference race, Cyclones look for conference win

The Iowa Hawkeyes host Wisconsin in Kinnick Stadium and the Hawkeyes need a victory to keep their division title hopes alive. Not only do the Badgers have the Big Ten’s best running game they also have the top ranked defense and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says the Hawkeyes must avoid third and long. “The challenge is to try and get into manageable third downs, and we didn’t do a good job last year,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says.

Running back Melvin Gordon gets most of the attention but Ferentz says Badger quarterback Stave gets overlooked as he has led them to wins. He says Wisconsin’s quarterbacks don’t always get the spotlight, but they do a good job of running the offense. Iowa is 7-3.

Iowa State looks for its first Big 12 win at home against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are 1-6 in league play and coach Cliff Kingsbury must decide on a starting quarterback between Davis Webb and Pat Mahomes. ISU coach Paul Rhoads says Texas Tech will throw the ball and he feels the Cyclones will play hard to finish out the season.

Rhoads says the trenches will decide the outcome as the run game and run defense will be important to both teams.

Iowa State is 2-7 overall and 0-6 in the Big 12.


Iowa fades in second half against Texas

Tenth ranked Texas took command with a 13-0 run early in the second half and cruised to a 71-57 over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2K Classic in New York City. The Hawks led 30-24 at the half but were no match for the Longhorns in the second half.

“We played a little bit tentatively, I want to be tough and smart and I want to execute. If we do those things and we get beat, we get beat and we move on to the next,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says. He felt the Hawkeyes especially lacked toughness in the second half. “Toughness is not get into a fight, toughness is having enough intensity and concentration and competitive instincts to fight through a tough period,” McCaffery says.

Aaron White led Iowa with 23 points and says despite the loss the Hawkeyes showed potential. “Nothing is handed to you at this level…they are not the 10th ranked team for no reason,” White says. He says they learned in the first half how good they can be, but he says they can’t just play half a game.

Jonathan Holmes Led Texas with 19 points. The Hawks are 2-1.


Hawkeyes face early basketball test in Texas

Fran McCaffery

Fran McCaffery

The Iowa basketball team faces its first major test of the season tonight when the Hawkeyes take on 10th ranked Texas in the 2K Classic in New York City. Junior forward Jarrod Uthoff has played well in a 2-0 start. The Cedar Rapids native is averaging 12 and a half points and has connected on six of 10 from three point range.

“He’s just really playing well, he’s playing with a lot of confidence, I’m really proud of him,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says> He says Uthoff is playing well at both ends and the other players are looking to get him the ball offensively.

The Longhorns will be a difficult challenge as McCaffery says they have size and are physical with great guard play.

Junior center Adam Woodbury says the Hawkeyes need to answer the physical challenge. He says the Big 10 is the most physical conference in the nation, so they will come prepared to meet the physical challenge.

Syracuse and California meet in the second game in Madison Square Garden.


Drake football team closes out the season in Florida

Drake football coach Rick Fox. (file photo)

Drake football coach Rick Fox. (file photo)

The Drake football team heads to Florida to close out the season on Saturday with a game against Stetson. The Bulldogs had their Pioneer Football League title hopes dashed three weeks ago on a late touchdown drive by San Diego but responded with a late touchdown to rally for a win at Dayton.

“To show that kind of resilience, especially after coming off a tough loss against San Diego…our guys hung in there, they kept fighting…and I was really, really proud of how our team responded,” Drake coach Rick Fox says.

The Bulldogs are motivated to end the season with a win as he says Drake football is playing together and playing with relentless effort. “And if we do that, one play at a time for an entire game, then good things are usually going to happen for us,” Fox says.

Stetson enters the game with a record of 5-6, but Fox says they led San Diego for a good portion of the game and he says any team in the conference is tough to beat at home.

Fox says the final game of any season is emotional for the seniors who are ending their careers. “Football is not like basketball or baseball or soccer where you can just pick it up and play it for many, many years. The nature of the sport brings a finality to it. So, it’s a special week, it’s an emotional week and we want to send these guys out in the right way on Saturday,” Fox says.

Drake is 6-4.