December 22, 2014

Iowa women defeat Drake with record number of 3’s

While the state champion of men’s college basketball won’t be decided head-to-head, the University of Iowa women laid claim to the title with a wild 100-98 last second win over Drake Sunday. They had already beaten Iowa State and UNI.

Hawkeye senior, Melissa Dixon hit 10 of 14 three-pointers in the game against Drake to set a new school record. Dixon credits her teammate with getting her the ball, and says she felt good after hitting the first three. “You just kind of get into a rhythm, it feels good, it was feeling good today. We were all just passing the ball around really well, finding open looks in the zone, so it just felt really good,” Dixon says.

She wasn’t aware she was shooting on a record pace. “Not really, not until like the end,” Dixon says. Dixon did not try a two-point shot and hit one free throw to lead the Hawks with 31 points. She is now tied with Jaime Printy for second most threes in program history with 252. Ally Disterhoft and Samantha Logic each had 18 points, including Logic’s game-winning bucket.

Coach Lisa Bluder says it seemed more like an NBA game. “Whoever is in charge of defense for both teams ought to be fired,” Bluder says. “Defense wasn’t there, but offense was terrific today.” Bluder didn’t know what to say about Dixon’s performance, which was just two buckets shy of the NCAA and Big Ten record for three-pointers. Iowa is now 9-2 heading into the Christmas break. “I think this is a great win going forward for us. Now we are going into Big Ten play, so we’ve put ourselves sin these different situations, we’ve got a good road win now. Believe me, Drake is better than a 5-6 team,” Bluder says.

Iowa will return to action and open Big Ten play on December 28th against Penn State in Iowa City.


UNI shuts down Iowa in second half for 56-44 win

Seth Tuttle

Seth Tuttle

Northern Iowa was down six at the half, but held Iowa to just 15 points in the second half and went on to a 56-44 win in the Big 4 Classic in Des Moines Saturday. Panther senior forward, Seth Tuttle, says they had to adjust their pace in the second half.

“I think we just found a rhythm, that first half they did a good job and I don’t know if we were quite as aggressive as we need to be… we talked at halftime about how we needed to push in transition and make things happen,” Tuttle says.

Coach Ben Jacobson credited his team with turning up the defensive pressure. “Our guys found another level of defense in the second half, and that’s what I told the guys afterward, our defense is better because we worked on it more than we did a year ago,” Jacobson says.

Jacobson says the defense changed the game. “A couple of things that we’re doing, one from a scouting report standpoint, we are taking things away, from first option to second option, so it’s a little harder for them,” Jacobson says. “And then two, the more important part as I mentioned, the guys care a lot more about it, and that covers up for the mistakes that you make.”  Paul Jesperson was the only Panther in double figures, with 10 points. Tuttle had 9 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.

Aaron White

Aaron White

The Panthers held the Hawkeyes to 3 of 24 shooting in the second half, including 0-7 from three-point range. Hawkeye senior forward, Aaron White, talked about the turnaround from the first to the second half. “We’ll we didn’t make shots, that was apparent, and also I think when the going got tough we went to one-on-one action,” White says.

Hawkeye coach Fran McCaffrey agreed with White. “They scored the first couple hoops in the second half and we started going a little one-on-one, we had a couple of really good looks and they didn’t go down and that’s kind of the story of our team. We shot it maybe a little bit quick at times, maybe settled for jumpers,” McCaffrey says.

Iowa has had trouble in the second half in the four games they’ve lost, and McCaffrey says part of that is the competition. “Four really good programs with really good players, so it’s one of those situations where you don’t want to get too down on yourself. But at the same time you’ve to be honest with yourself and says we’ve got to change some things, we’ve got to be better in some areas,” McCaffrey says.

Fran McCaffrey

Fran McCaffrey

The Hawkeyes ended up hitting just 27.5 percent of their shots from the floor.

“As frustrated as they might be, I am frustrated for them,” McCaffrey says. “Because to a man they’re coming in and getting extra shots up, they are. And they are making shots in practice and they are working the ball in practice.   I’ve always been a believer if guys are struggling you keep encouraging them and you keep wanting  them to shoot, the ball and that’s how you respond and I don’t make a big thing about it. They are feeling pressure, I don’t know if they are feeling pressure, or if they are putting pressure on themselves, but really good shooters are missing wide open shots.” Mike Gesell led Iowa with 10 points, Adam Woodbury had 9.

White was asked how he will be a leader to keep the team together. “I loved the guys in the locker room, we are all there for each other, just stay together, unite as one,” White says. “We know there are going to be naysayers   and people doubting us, we’ve just got to band together, the guys in the locker room and fight through this little spell we are in. We are going to get through it together, that’s the main thing.”

While UNI beat Iowa, because of the format of the Big 4 Classic, they won’t play Iowa State, which beat Drake and it leaves open the question about which is the best team in the state. UNI’s Tuttle was asked about the issue.

“It’s always fun playing in-state games, that’s a tough question,” Tuttle says.  Coach Ben Jacobson chimed and told reporters they were supposed to save tough questions like that for him. “We’d love to play them, that’s a great team, a great opportunity to play a good team, but we just play the teams that are on our schedule, this year it was Iowa and we are happy to get the win,” Tuttle says.

Jacobson was then asked which team is the best in the state, he says to ask Cyclone coach Fed Hoiberg. “Ask the mayor, “ Jacobson said to laughs. “From what I understand the Mayor’s never been wrong, the Mayor is usually right so ask him, yeah.”

Then Jacobson continued. “Yeah we’d love to play in that game, absolutely. But I say that with nothing to do with the way the series is set up, or nothing to do with our team. Yeah, we’d love to play that game because of how good Iowa State is no question,” Jacobson said.

The Panthers are now 10-1 on the season. They are off until they play South Dakota State on December 28th. Iowa is now 8-4 and will play North Florida Monday night.



Iowa State rolls by Drake in Big 4 Classic

Fred Hoiberg

Fred Hoiberg

Iowa State pulled out early and cruised to an easy 83-54 win over Drake in the Big Four Classic in Des Moines. Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg.

“I loved our rhythm, we got out to a great start which was a key for us, we knew they were going to try to control the tempo of this game. But we got up 16 and really extended that…we wanted to control the tempo tonight and really did a good job of it,” Hoiberg says. Hoiberg played some different rotations early and was asked if that will continue.
“I just go into each game and try to coach by feel, who has got it going out there, foul trouble obviously will play a part, who gets tired at certain times,” Hoiberg says. “But like I told those guys, they can go out there and play to exhaustion, we’ve got other guys we can put in the game for them, and hopefully they can do the same thing and we can do those rotations.”

Ray Giacoletti

Ray Giacoletti

Drake coach Ray Giacoletti, credited the 13th ranked Cyclones with playing a good game. “It’s a very good basketball team, they are so versatile at every spot. Georges Ninang is something that you don’t see very often, a guy that versatile in so many different ways to score the basketball,” Giacoletti says.

Drake has struggled to get wins this season, and Giacoletti says they are working to build the team. Giacoletti says they are playing so many young guys they just want them to come together and talk and communicate no matter what the score is. “Yes it’s about today, but it’s about a month from now, a year from now,” Giacoletti says.

He says playing Iowa State showed his team what they need to strive for. “You want to get to big time college basketball, you just got a really good look and taste up close and personal. This is how it is at this level,” Giacoletti says. Giacoletti promises Drake will get better. “There’ll come a day when we’ll bring a team in here that will be able to win games in this Big Four Classic,” Giacoletti says.

Naz Long led Iowa State with 13 points, Monte Morris had 12, Dustin Hogue and Matt Thomas each had 10. Jacob Envold and Trevor Berkely each had 10 points for Drake.

Iowa State moves to 9-1 on the season and is off until a New Year’s Eve game at home against Mississippi Valley State. Drake is now 2-9 and plays Simpson Monday night.

Hawkeye coach gets questions about team record, QB starter

Jake Rudock (file photo)

Jake Rudock (file photo)

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz got several questions about the team’s lackluster showing and finish to the season during his Learfield Sports bowl call-in show Wednesday. Iowa finished 7-5 and will play in the Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida against Tennessee on January 2nd.

One caller said the Hawkeyes have good, coaches, facilities and players and asked the coach why they couldn’t finish with a better record.”All I can tell you is that we’ve tried to coach as hard as we can, I think our players have played as hard as they can, I don’t think it was a matter of effort this year. At times we didn’t play well enough to win, the last game is a great illustration of that,” Ferentz says. Iowa had a 24-7 lead over Nebraska in the final regular season game of the year and ended up losing in overtime.

Ferentz also addressed the ongoing quarterback controversy. An unsubstantiated report in social media said C.J. Beathard would start the bowl game over Jake Rudock. Ferentz says he only stated that every position would be looked at as they prepare for the bowl game and never said Beathard would start the bowl game. “Basically what I said is what I said and that’s what I meant and that’s why I said it,” according to Ferentz. Ferentz then followed up with host Gary Dolphin, saying he would “muddy the waters” and says “Beathard could start.”

Ferentz says the guys who will take the hand-offs from whoever starts at quarterback are a mixed, including Damon Bullock whose status remains a question. “Bullock’s been hurt, so I don’t know if he’ll make the game or not. (Jordan) Canzeri’s been nicked up and to me hasn’t looked full speed all season long, which is unfortunate. Hopefully we’ll have him ready to go. (Akrum) Wadley is doing a good job, you know we’ve got to get him to grow up fast, and we’re practicing him pretty hard right now. And the good news is LeShun (Daniels) has made some great strides the last week to two weeks. I think it’s realistic if we don’t have a setback to get him out there for some play,” Ferentz says.

Ferentz was also asked about Derrick Willies, the wide receiver who left the program in October to be closer to his ailing father, and now says he wants to return to the team. “We’ve talked and I’ve got an open mind towards it so, we’re both going to kind of sit on it until after the bowl game and then we’ll discuss it a little bit further. The ball is pretty much in Derrick’s court at this point,” Ferentz says.

The Iowa players have had this week off for finals and will begin practicing for the bowl game Friday.


Big Four Classic extended 2 years

An event that brings four of the state’s top men’s college basketball teams to Des Moines has been extended. The so-called Big Four Classic involves Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Drake. The four schools have agreed to a two-year extension of the event held at Wells Fargo Arena.

This Saturday will mark the third year of the original four year contract. Saturday’s first game at 4 p.m. will feature Iowa State against Drake, with Iowa and UNI squaring off in the nightcap at 6:30. For the first time in the event’s history, the Big Four Classic is sold-out as more than 15,100 fans are expected to attend.

The contract extension means the event in Des Moines will be held at least three more years.

Iowa goes back to the basics in bowl preparation

As exam week winds down the Iowa football team returns to the practice field to resume preparations for the January second Taxslayer Bowl against Tennessee. Senior linebacker Quinton Alston says the time between the end of the regular season and the bowl game allows them to return to the basics. “During the season it’s a lot of game plan, schemes, but bowl prep, it pretty much takes you back to the basics,” Alston says. He says that extra month of the basic drills helps.

Iowa dropped its final two games to finish a disappointing 7-5 but senior defensive lineman Louis Trina-Pasat says the Hawks have put the regular season behind them after they went over the everything and they now are focused on getting better and the next opponent.

Senior offensive tackle Brandon Scherff was named Iowa’s fourth winner of the Outland Trophy last week and he is looking forward to playing one more game in a Hawkeye uniform. “Alll those accolades, they wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for the rest of the team…it’s nice, but we’ve got a job to do down in Florida,” Scherff says.

Tennessee is preparing for its first bowl game since 2010. The Volunteers finished the regular season with a record of 6-6.

UNI preparing the same after first loss

UNI coach Ben Jacobson.

UNI coach Ben Jacobson.

For the first time this season the UNI Panthers are preparing for a game after losing. The Panthers dropped to 9-1 after Saturday’s double overtime loss at Virginia Commonwealth. “In terms of our approach, it’s going to be the same as what we’ve done. We don’t get too crazy when we lose a game and we don’t get too crazy when we win a game,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson says.

He says the Panthers just did not make enough plays to get the win, even though he says they played great through much of the game. “We just left 9 or 10 plays on the table.”

The Panthers now get ready for Saturday’s Big Four Classic game against Iowa. One of the keys for the Panthers has been the play of junior guard Wes Washpun, who is averaging just over 12 points per game.

“Wes has been great, he was great again Saturday against VCU, played very well against Denver, he’s been one of if not our most consistent player through 10 games now. He’s just been terrific,” Jacobson says.

Jacobson says he has done everything will coming off the bench and he says it’s terrific that he has done it in that role.

By Elwin Huffman, KOEL, Oelwein