March 27, 2015

Cyclone coach sees offense improving under second year of Mangino

Paul Rhoads (file photo)

Paul Rhoads (file photo)

Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads hopes the Cyclone offense can make bigger strides in the second spring practice under offensive coordinator Mark Mangino.

ISU ranked eighth in the Big 12 last season by averaging just over 23 points per game. “I think there are certain parts of it that allow us to take bigger steps, at the same time there’s other pieces…the runningback group is basically fresh faces and that doesn’t allow you to leap like you would like to,” Rhoads says.

Allen Lazard caught 45 passes during his freshmen season and Rhoads believes Lazard could become the top receiver in the Big-12. “He’s not a break away speed type of guy, but that doesn’t prohibit him from getting open against anybody just because of his pure size and his ability to go up and catch it,” Rhoads says. “He will be a featured player in what we do, and people will know it, but he still should have success.”

The Cyclones close out spring drills with an intrasquad game on April 11th.

 

Iowa gives quarterback Rudock freedom to transfer anywhere

Jake Rudock (file photo)

Jake Rudock (file photo)

The Iowa football team opens spring drills without Jake Rudock at quarterback. The two year starter for the Hawkeyes may be transferring after C.J. Beathard was named the starter just days after a lopsided loss to Tennessee in the Taxslayer Bowl.

“He’s in a really unique position, not totally unlike Cody Sokol a year ago. He’s exploring some other options at this point with our support — not encouragement, but support — and we’ll work through the process,” head coach Kirk Ferentz says. “So, until he decides what he’s going to do definitively, we’ll just keep him outside the program at this point.”

Ferentz who took the unusual step of releasing a depth chart in early January and says talking about the quarterbacks was part of the reason for doing that. He says if Ruddock’s heart isn’t with being at Iowa, then he should go somewhere else. If Rudock leaves it would leave the Hawkeyes without an experienced backup at quarterback. “I said many times publicly last year that it was a really close competition, that’s unusual when you have that….I know I said we had total confidence in both guys. I can’t say that right now the way the depth chart is,” Ferentz says. He says a lot of positions are that way and to have three potentially starting quarterbacks like Ohio State is a “really unusual circumstance.”

Ferentz says Rudock is able to transfer to any school, even one in the Big Ten as they have signed a release with no strings attached. “If he choses to leave, I want him to have opportunities, I think that’s the only fair way to do this, the best thing for him,” Ferentz says.

The Hawkeyes conclude drills with an open practice on April 25th.

 

Hawkeye baseball team opens home stand against Bradley

tiger hawkThe Iowa Hawkeye baseball team will be at home today to host Bradley in non conference action. The Hawks are 14-5 on the season and tomorrow’s game will open a five game homestand.

“We’re just coming off a 10-day road trip where we were in Houston and then Kansas. It’s going to feel pretty good to be home for awhile, that’s for sure,” Iowa coach Rick Heller said. He credits experience for their strong start to the season as they have a lot of guys who have played many games. “We’ve won some games where we didn’t play our best and that is because of the confidence and the experience these guys have,” according to Heller.

Today’s game will feature the latest upgrade to Banks Field. A video board was installed over the weekend and Heller says this is a trial run before the Big Ten opening Indiana series this weekend. “I can’t wait to see the video board running, it’s going to be really nice,” Heller said. Other improvements made to the field include turf in the outfield and a new outfield fence.

 

UNI coach: seniors raised the bar for Panther basketball

Seth Tuttle talks about the loss to Louisville.

Seth Tuttle talks about the loss to Louisville.

UNI basketball coach Ben Jacobson says the bar has been raised, again. The Panthers finished a record breaking season with a 31-4 record after a 66-53 loss to Louisville in the NCAA Tournament in Seattle.

Nate Buss is one of five Panther seniors who closed out their career and says he hopes the seniors set a standard when it comes to work ethic.

“For the years to come, every time you walk into the gym in Cedar Falls at Northern Iowa, you are going to see guys working. Whether it’s a redshirt or a senior, they are going to be getting their shots up, and I think that’s the standard that’s going to be continued for years to come,” according to Buss.

Jacobson says he is proud of his team which achieved the program’s first top ten ranking and won the Missouri Valley post season tournament. “With all of the success we’ve had this year, they haven’t changed at all in terms of who they are and what they stand for and how they represent their families and our program and our school. That’s what I am most proud of,” Jacobson says.

Ben Jacobson

Ben Jacobson

Jacobson says the senior class deserves much of the credit. “From a basketball standpoint within our program — they raised the bar again. And I love them for that,” Jacobson says. “We’ve had a lot of good things happen at Northern Iowa in our men’s basketball program, these guys raised the bar one more time. And that’s hard to do with some of the things we did, but they did it.”

Jacobson called it the best season in program history. “We didn’t get to the Sweet 16, so that’s the only thing we didn’t match. But they just saw the best four months of basketball our program’s ever had — and that’s saying a lot,” according to Jacobson. “So these guys, I love them, absolutely love them.”

 

Iowa coach credits seniors with turning basketball program around

Aaron White

Aaron White

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery credits his outgoing seniors for turning the program around. The Hawkeyes were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by Gonzaga on Sunday but recorded the program’s first win in the tournament in 14 years and finished with a record of 22-12.

It came just five years after the program hit rock bottom with a 10-22 record. “But ultimately what you have to do is convince really good players that things are going to be different, this is how we are going to do it, this is why it works for you,” McCaffery says. He says they have to decide that coming to the school is going to make it into a tournament team.

Iowa’s four seniors signed up with the program when a trip to the NCAA Tournament seemed light years away. “That’s the thing that impresses me the most about this class, it they were willing to some degree believe in me and my staff, and believe in themselves that when we’re there, we are going to go to the NCAA Tournament,” McCaffery says.

One of those seniors is Aaron White who went from an unheralded high school recruit out of Ohio to an All Big Ten standout. “We weren’t very good when we first got here,” White says. “Every day we just went to work fighting, for one another, with one another, and that’s the thing I am going to remember. Like coach said, we really love each other, we’re like a family. And those kind of memories are going to last forever.”

 

Buzzer beater caps comeback for Cyclones in Big 12 Tourney

ISU-logoMonte’ Morris connected on a 17 footer at the buzzer as Iowa State rallied for a 69-67 win over Texas in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. Morris says he was supposed to have an outlet person to pass to, but had to go ahead and shoot it.

Trailing by ten late in the game the Cyclones scored the final 12 points to escape with the victory. “It was big time, Texas is a great team, I feel like they are a tournament team,” Morris says.

It was Iowa State’s only lead of the game. “They keep fighting I guess is the thing I like most about that game, because it wasn’t going our way. Any time we made a run they responded. A great effort to just gut it out there at the end,” ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said.

 

Hawkeyes give up 48 in second half, fall to Purdue

tiger hawkThe Iowa Hawkeyes were dreadful in the second half as they lost to Penn State 67-58 at the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago. The Hawkeyes led by eight at the half before the Nittany Lions scored 48 points in the second half.

“You know they shot it well. We made some mistakes I think, they took advantage of those mistakes. They made some shots at a critical juncture in the game which changed a lot,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says.

The Hawks made only seven of 32 shots in the second half against one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. “We give up 48 points in the second half, that’s more where we lost the game, rather than shooting percentage,” Iowa’s Aaron White says. White had 21 points and 13 rebounds.