March 31, 2015

Iowa women end season at Sweet 16

tiger hawkThe college basketball season in Iowa officially came to an end over the weekend when the Iowa Hawkeye women lost to sixth ranked Baylor 81-66 in the sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City. It was the Hawks first trip to the sweet 16 in 1996 and they close the season with a 26-8 overall record, including 18-0 at home and a second place finish in the Big Ten.

“The whole season has been just one of those magical season where you don’t have a lot of problems, we didn’t have any injuries, we didn’t have any off-court problems, we didn’t have any on-court problems really. It was a disappointment not winning the Big 10, obviously that was one of our goals,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder says. Bluder says it was an easy team to coach as they wanted to do the work needed.

She says she will always remember this year because of the Sweet 16 and the senior class.

With two good recruiting classes already lined up the future of the program looks bright. “I have to believe that a Sweet 16 appearance is good for recruiting and I think the manner in which we play is good for recruiting, because I think people want to be a part of our team,” Bluder says.


Iowa women face Baylor in NCAA tourney

tiger hawkThe Iowa Hawkeye women take on Baylor, tonight, in the “Sweet Sixteen” of the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City.

The 15th ranked Hawkeyes are playing in a regional semifinal for the first time since 1996 while sixth ranked Baylor is in the sweet 16 for the seventh straight year. “They’ve only lost three times all year, we understand that, but at the same time we feel like we have a high offensive team that could give them problems,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder says.

The Hawkeyes are 26-7. “I know my team is excited and I know they are not done playing, they want to keep this going,” Bluder says, “they are having fun and they are very confident. They believe the can do it,”

Bluder hopes experience actually benefits her team. She says Baylor is a younger team and her seniors have been around a little longer with more postseason experience.

It is a 6:30 p.m. tipoff. The other regional semifinal pits Notre Dame against Stanford.


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.


Wartburg baseball team off to good start

The Wartburg baseball has won 14 straight games after opening Iowa Conference action over the weekend with a four game sweep of Coe College. The Knights are 14-1 overall and were picked to finish second behind defending champion Buena Vista in the league race.

Wartburg coach Joel Holst says Buena Vista deserved the top spot in the vote, and says the winning streak has given the Knights a lot of confidence. “Any time you put things together and run a little string, it’s good,” Holst says.

Much of the reason for the success rests with a pitching staff that sports an earned run average of 2.87. He says they needed to get the confidence to start the season and as long as they go out and continue to hit the zone he is confident in their staff.

Wartburg returns to action on Friday by opening a series at home against Central College

(Reporting by Elwin Huffman at KOEL Oelwein)


Hawkeye Community College to add sports teams

Hawkeye-comm-collegeHawkeye Community College officials in Waterloo have announced plans to begin offering athletics. Sports shooting is the first step in a plan to add up to six sports by the fall of 2019. Dave Ball is the director of admissions and student life at the school.

“We were one of only three other community colleges in the state of Iowa that were not offering sports opportunities for our students,” Ball says. In addition to sports shooting, Hawkeye plans to phase in a number of other sports for both men and women – including: soccer in 2016, track & field and cross country in 2017, golf in 2018, and bowling in 2019.

Ball believes the move will attract more high school students from the Waterloo area to enroll at Hawkeye Community College. “A lot of our students had to leave our service area, our region, to go compete after high school,” Ball says. “We want to make sure they have opportunities to stay close to home.”

The teams will be known as the Hawkeye RedTails. A proposed increase in the current $2 student activity fee would help pay for athletics at the college. That requires approval from the Hawkeye Board of Trustees. “We will be funding (the addition of sports) with a $1.50 increase in our student activity fee,” Ball says. “The Board of Trustees will (consider) that proposal in May.” Ball says Hawkeye will designate itself a Division II school so it can provide scholarships.

The RedTails will compete in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference, which includes 15 colleges in Iowa and one in Nebraska

(Reporting by Scott Fenzloff, KCNZ, Cedar Falls)