Sunday, February 11, 2007

You Have Entered the Twilight Zone...

So, it's been a weird couple of weeks in Iowa basketball. Three wins, including an improbable come-from-behind victory at Michigan (which I thought would leave the guys at The M Zone and MGoBlog apoplectic...but it really didn't), bookended by losses to Wisconsin (one bad, one not so bad). So, a few thoughts on the past two weeks and the academic year in general.

  • He's frustrating as hell, but Adam Haluska is officially the most entertaining Hawkeye since at least Andre Woolridge. 33 against Hoosier Daddy, followed by 34 against Minny, is the stuff of legends. And that 35-footer, followed by the chest bump with the Golden Boy, was one of the greatest moments of Alford's tenure at Iowa.
  • And, no, I have no idea what we're going to do once he's gone...
  • For years, the inside rumor has been Rick Majerus as the next coach at Iowa (even predating Steve Alford). And, after yesterday's game, I am in complete agreement. If we brought in Majerus as coach, he would stop ruining the games on television. Oh merciful God, was that bad. Of course, if he were coaching Iowa, he would lose both games to Wisconsin every year; the Badgers are so magnificent that Majerus might just forfeit and save himself the embarassment.
  • The Michigan game could have been the end. They were AWFUL in the first half. But you combine a downright lazy defensive/rebounding team like Michigan, a slow-footed (and exhausted) big man, completely inept coaching from Tommy Ammaker, and a red-hot Hawkeye squad in the second half, and it's the recipe for an upset. And Michigan fans, I now know how you can deal so well with Lloyd Carr. Compared to Ammaker, Carr looks like Schembechler and Bobby Knight rolled into one. I have never seen a big-time college coach look so flabbergasted in the face of a comeback. The ineptitude was absolutely amazing.
  • I was at the Hoosier game, and it was the most entertaining basketball game I've attended since...Indiana last year. The coaches, the team, the fans, everyone was fired up. My dad kept talking about how much Alford wanted to beat Indiana after the slight of not even getting an interview last spring, but I think he always wants Indiana more. And so do we. This might be the only thing we have in common with the Golden Boy. Beating Indiana is special. And yes, I know it shows we don't have the tradition of IU, or the same standards of success. You know what? I don't care.
  • Oh, and by the way, there is one unmistakable observation to make after watching thatgame: Craig Neal is very quietly running this team. And it's a very good thing.
  • Beating Minnesota is always fun, even when their best player is the brother from "My Name is Earl"


















One last observation: For the last five years, we have all watched Hawkeye football teams which start sluggish but build as the season progresses, and we have all credited Captain Kirk for that. And we have watched a string of Iowa basketball teams start hot and implode in Big Ten play, and we have all blamed Golden Boy for that (repeatedly).

But this year, Iowa football positively quits halfway through the season - with very little blame placed on Ferentz - and the hoops team is slowly, steadily building toward the end of the year. Early losses to Arizona State (wha?) and Drake (huh?) are long-forgotten after inexplicable wins against Michigan and Indiana. Does this sound familiar? So where is the love for Steve? Let's face it, this team is not very good, and yet he has them in position to go 10-6 in the conference (go back and read my preview; I thought 7-9 was generous). Guys like Seth Gorney and Kurt Looby who couldn't possibly be worse in November are actually improving and contributing. And, while they might not get into the tournament, at least they're in the conversation and could run deep into the NIT. I'll be the first to admit that I've never given Alford a break, but I think he deserves one now. Bravo, Golden Boy. Bravo.

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