Sunday, November 17, 2013

Drake's Bid To Upset Saint Mary's Falls Short, 67-63. But Bulldog Fans Have Reason To Be Optimistic: It's early, I realize, but so far I like what I'm seeing from coach Ray Giacoletti and his Drake players. Giacoletti doesn't have the most talented team in the world, in the Missouri Valley Conference. the state or even central Iowa. But his Bulldogs are playing hard, and if he can continue to get those results from them, this 2013-2014 team--of which very little is expected--is going to win some games it has no business winning. No opponent will be able to take these Bulldogs lightly.

MORAGA, Calif.  – Facing an 18-point deficit just minutes into the second half,  Drake's basketball rallied to pull within a point before falling short in a 67-63 loss Saturday night at Saint Mary's. 
Ray Giacoletti

The Bulldogs' attempt to become just the 10th team to win on Saint Mary's home court in the last six years was led by 18 points and five assists from Richard Carter  and 11 points and six rebounds from Daddy Ugbede.

Saint Mary's (4-0) had four players in double figures with Beau Levesque's 16 points leading the way. Forward Brad Waldow added 16 points and 13 boards. Drake’s (2-1)offense struggled to get shots to fall, converting on just 35.7 percent of its attempts, but took care of the ball with just 10 turnovers and only one in the second half to nearly escape McKeon Pavilion with a victory.

“I’m proud of the way we fought and competed for 40 minutes,” Drake coach Ray Giacoletti said. “We had a shot, but the first half got us in a rut and then the second half got off to bad start. You can’t go on the road and have those kind of spurts.”

Those spurts were exacerbated by one of the toughest home courts in college basketball as the Gaels improved to 95-9 in McKeon Pavilion over the last six seasons.

With an 10-point deficit to start the second half, Drake quickly found itself down 18 points, 41-23, just three minutes into the half, forcing Giacoletti to take a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the adjustments took hold with the Bulldogs going on a 9-0 run courtesy of five points from Carter. 

The Gaels managed to keep their lead at nine or more points for the next six minutes until California native Gary Ricks, Jr. went on a tear to pull Drake within two points, 53-51, with 6:42 left in the contest. Ricks began the spurt with a three-pointer, followed by a pair of free throws and a steal that evolved into a fastbreak layup to change the complexion of the game.

Two minutes later, a pair of Carter free throws trimmed Saint Mary’s lead to one point, 56-55, but five straight points from the Gaels reestablished their advantage. The Bulldogs fired one last salvo across the Gaels’ bow courtesy of a Carter three-pointer with 30 seconds left to make it a 3-point, 63-60, game. However, Saint Mary’s hit all four of its free throws down the stretch to preserve the home win. Carter tacked on another three-pointer as time expired to account for the 67-63 final.

Drake’s 10-point half time deficit was a result of both squads struggling offensively to open the game with just three combined points scored in the first four minutes of the game. Saint Mary’s eventually found its stroke to put together an 8-0 run to take a 16-6 lead with 11:45 left in the half. Drake’s offense was unable to do the same, finishing the half shooting just 37.5 percent to trail 33-23 at halftime thanks to an 8-2 Drake run to close the half..

Ugbede provided the team with a spark off the bench, coming in to score back-to-back buckets and finishing the half with nine points in nine minutes.

“Daddy came in and gave us great energy and played very physically,” Giacoletti said.

He and his frontcourt mates Seth VanDeest and Jacob Enevold Jensen combined to hold Saint Mary’s forward Waldow and Matt Hodgson to seven combined first half points.

The Bulldogs' next game is Saturday against Nebraska-Omaha at 1:05 p.m. in the Knapp Center. The game will be part of a special day for Drake basketball as the Bulldogs are scheduled to begin construction on their new practice facility with a ceremonial groundbreaking at 11 a.m.

-- Game story by Ty Patton, Drake sports information  Opinion at the top and bottom of the page by Ron Maly. Photo of Ray Giacoletti courtesy of

RON MALY'S COMMENTS--It's early, I realize, but so far I like what I'm seeing from coach Ray Giacoletti and his Drake players. Giacoletti doesn't have the most talented team in the world, in the Missouri Valley Conference, the state or even central Iowa. But his Bulldogs are playing hard, and if Giacoletti can continue to get those results from them, this 2013-2014 team--of which very little is expected--is going to win some games it has no business winning. No opponent will be able to take these Bulldogs lightly.]

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Better Team Won. Again

Smiles Before the Game


Tough night for the Tigers. 

They were beaten by Dowling in every aspect of Friday's high school class 4-A playoff football game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. 

The important thing was that they came up second-best on the scoreboard, so it'll be Dowling and not Valley that plays Xavier of Cedar Rapids next Friday night in an all-Catholic large-school championship game.

Dowling defeated Valley, 17-3, and the Tigers are fortunate it wasn't worse. 

It certainly wasn't a typical playoff game for a Gary Swenson-coached Tiger team. 

In other years, get Swenson in the semifinal round, and you could figure he'd beat your brains out. 

The man is a winner, and he's got five state championships to prove it. 

His teams usually get better as the season progresses, and this one certainly did.

At least until it got to the dome.

This was not his night, nor was it his team's night. 

Indeed, these teams from high schools that are less than 10 miles apart in West Des Moines could still be playing right now and Valley might not have a touchdown. 

Very, very unusual. 

The Tigers lost on offense, on defense, at the line of scrimmage, on the coaches' game plan, on play-calling and on in-game smartness. 

Dowling's quarterback was much better than Valley's. 

Valley has a wealth of big, quick, smart players, but unbeaten Dowling was the better team when it beat the 10-3 Tigers early in the season at Drake Stadium, and it was the better team at the UNI-Dome. 

The Tigers can only wonder what might have happened at Cedar Falls had they pulled off some pass interceptions that seemed possible and had they been delivered a more imaginative offensive game plan by the coaches. 

I mean, you can't run Tyus Mason on every down. 

It seems that Mason has been playing for 10 years as a Tiger, but now he's run in his final high school game. 

Too bad it had to end the way it did.

Afterward, There Were No Valley Smiles

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Groundbreaking for Drake Basketball Facility On Nov. 23

Drake University will host a ceremonial groundbreaking for its basketball facility as part of an exciting weekend of Bulldog basketball on Saturday, Nov. 23. The groundbreaking for the state-of-the-art, on-campus facility for the Drake basketball programs will take place at 11 a.m. prior to the men’s basketball game against Nebraska-Omaha. The following day, the women’s team hosts in-state rival Iowa State.

Drake president David Maxwell, athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb, men’s basketball head coach Ray Giacoletti, and women’s basketball head coach Jennie Baranczyk will all briefly speak about the significance of the project before putting shovels in the ground to celebrate the official start of construction.

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place at the construction site, located at the corner of 25th St. and Forest Ave., adjacent to the southeast corner of the Knapp Center. Game-day parking lots will open at 10 a.m.

“The basketball practice facility allows us to continue building the foundation for the type of sustained success that this university deserves,” says Ray Giacoletti, men’s basketball head coach.

Construction of the $8 million, 39,000-square foot facility is expected to be completed in the fall of 2014. The facility will include two full-size courts flanked by auxiliary baskets to make the most of every minute and square foot dedicated to practice. Off court, the structure will feature state-of-the-art locker rooms, video suites, team rooms, and dedicated training facilities to foster each student-athlete’s physical and mental development.

In addition to providing the Bulldogs with one of the top facilities in the country, the structure will help the entire university alleviate scheduling conflicts and provide more available recreational space for the general student population. The practice facility is the latest addition to an impressive list of infrastructure additions and improvements by Drake University as part of the distinctlyDrake comprehensive campaign.

“At Drake, this facility will help the entire University with scheduling conflicts that arise between the Knapp Center and Bell Center,” Giacoletti says. “There are so many events going on every day that it’s imperative we have more space for the general student population. It’s two fold in that this will help men’s and women’s basketball and the students.”

“We want Drake basketball to be an integral part of the Des Moines community,” says Jennie Baranczyk, women’s basketball head coach. “For that to happen at the level we envision, we needed to upgrade our facilities.”

The practice facility will provide Drake’s basketball programs dedicated space to alleviate scheduling conflicts while creating an environment that allows the student-athletes and coaching staff to maximize their practice time and each student-athlete’s potential. Members of both teams will also have unlimited individual access to facility to allow them to continue to fine tune and hone their on-court skills on their own schedule.

Fans are encouraged to cheer on the Bulldogs after the ceremony when they host Nebraska-Omaha at 1:05 p.m. The Knapp Center doors will open at 11:15 a.m. and $5 general admission tickets are available to help celebrate a landmark day in Drake basketball history.

The following day, Sunday, Nov. 24, the Drake women’s basketball team returns to the Knapp Center to host in-state rival Iowa State at 2:05 p.m. for its “Pay it Forward” game. Fans who bring three cans of non-perishable food to the game will receive a voucher for free admission to the next women’s basketball game on Dec. 5 vs. Idaho State.

--Ty Patton, Drake sports information.

State Class 4-A Playoffs, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ellingson, Uhl Sign With Iowa

Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery said today that Brady Ellingson and Dominique Uhl have signed  National Letters of Intent to attend the university.

Ellingson is a three-year varsity starter for Hamilton High School in Sussex, Wis. Ellingson, who enters his senior season 184 points from becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer, is a two-time Greater Metro Conference first team honoree, including being named the 2013 Greater Metro Conference Player of the Year. As a junior, Ellingson averaged 21.3 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per contest en route to being named first team all-state, all-area, all-suburban, and team co-MVP. The 6-foot-4, 181-pound shooting guard shot a school single-season record 48 percent (86-of-179) from 3-point territory while leading his team to a 21-3 record last season and its first conference title since 1979. His 511 points during the 2012-13 campaign rank as the second-most in school history, while his 437 points as a sophomore rank fourth at Hamilton HS. Ellingson also played AAU basketball for Ray Allen Select.

“The thing I love about Brady is that he has a complete game,” said McCaffery.  “He can shoot the ball, put it on the floor, and can make a play for himself or someone else. He’s a good athlete, has good size and is a really good late-game player. He’s clearly a guy who understands how to play. He’s incredibly cerebral.”

As a junior at Point Pleasant Beach High School, Uhl averaged a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) on a team that won the school’s first New Jersey Group I state title and finished 27-4 last season. Uhl was tabbed first team all-conference and a Reebok all-American. He was also named MVP of the Rumble in the Bronx. Uhl posted 11 points and 12 rebounds for Pleasant Beach in the first round of the New Jersey Tournament of Champions. The 6-foot-9, 195-pound forward also played AAU basketball for the Jersey Shore Warriors.

“Dominque Uhl is a really talented front-court player,” McCaffery said. “He can play inside and the perimeter. He has tremendous ball-handling, driving and passing skills for a guy who is a legitimate 6-foot-9. His length enables him to be successful inside as a shot blocker and finisher. He’s a really good athlete.

“Both Dominique and Brady will be a great fit with our basketball team.”

--Matt Weitzel, Iowa sports information.

Drake's Basketball Fans Will Like This: New Coach Ray Giacoletti Signs 5 New Players, and Says All Of 'Em 'Understand What It Takes To Win Championships'

Drake's has signed five future basketball players  to National Letters of Intent, coach Ray Giacoletti said Wednesday. The signees, comprised of three guards, a forward and a center, make up Giacoletti’s first early signing class as the head coach at Drake.

The talented, skilled and diverse class includes Casey Schlatter (Iowa Falls), Reed Timmer (New Berlin, Wis.), Kory Kuenstling (Dunkerton, IA), C.J. Rivers (Cahokia, Ill.) and Ore Arogundade (Arlington Heights, Ill.)

“We are fortunate in the sense that these five guys all come from very successful high school and AAU programs,” Giacoletti said. “They understand what it takes to win championships. They’re committed to being successful scholastically as well as being the best they can be on the basketball court. They are also high-character individuals and those are the attributes with which we are building this program.”

Schlatter, a 6-9, 190-pound forward, led Iowa Falls Alden High School to a 19-4 record and conference title in his junior season to earn first team 3A all-state honors by the Des Moines Register. He averaged 25.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game as a junior. During his sophomore season he earned second team all-state accolades while helping the squad to a 21-3 record and the second of three-straight conference titles. He begins his senior season with more than 1,200 career points and a 61-9 record under head coach Kyle Hutchinson. He is also a product of the Iowa Barnstormers AAU program and coach Greg Stephen.

“Back in May, Casey was the first guy to believe in our vision and pledge to join us,” Giacoletti said. “He possesses great length, skill, shooting and a feel for the game. Above all else, he has great passion and enthusiasm.”

Schlatter’s Iowa Barnstormer teammate, Kory Kuenstling, is a 6-11, 220-pound center from Dunkerton, Iowa, that is set to begin his final high school season following a junior year that saw him earn first team all-state honors while averaging 15.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game for coaches Dan Knebel and Brian Brungard en route to a 23-2 team record for Dunkerton High School. As a sophomore, he garnered the first of two all-state  honors.

“Kory has great size, can run the floor well, has good hands, plays very physical and has a terrific work ethic,” Giacoletti said. “He’s a year young for his class, and I believe Kory is a terrific young man that has his best basketball ahead of him.”

Point guard Reed Timmer was an all-state performer and the conference Player of the Year as a junior for coach Dave Schiedigger at New Berlin Eisenhower High School where he helped the team to a 22-4 record and the Woodland Conference championship in 2012-13. The 6-1 guard averaged 24.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game that season and enters his senior year as the school’s all-time leading scorer. He also refined his game as a member of the Ray Allen Select AAU team under coach Tom LaChance.

“As soon as we watched Reed with his AAU team and got to know his family back in April, we knew he was a guy we wanted as part of our program,” Giacoletti said. “He has all the attributes you want in a point guard – leadership, skill, a feel for the game and toughness. All the things that make a great floor general are wrapped up in Reed Timmer.”

Adding to the class at guard are a pair of Illinois products in C.J. Rivers and Ore Arogundade. Rivers, a 6-3, 180-pound guard, hails from Cahokia, Ill., where he has averaged more than eight points per game each of the last two seasons for head coach Darien Nash. As a junior, he helped the team advance to the state championships while amassing a 33-4 record. He is also a members of the outstanding SW Illinois Jets AAU program coached by Dana Morgan. However, Rivers’ academic performance is just as impressive as his on-court accomplishments.

“He is the perfect example of a student-athlete,” Giacoletti said. “In the classroom, he’s one of his high school’s top students. On the court, he’s a left-handed, versatile guard with the ability to make his teammates better.”

Completing Giacoletti’s first class at Drake is another skilled and versatile guard in Ore Arogundade. As a junior, he averaged 19.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for head coach Mike Howland and St. Viator High School. The 6-3, 180-pound guard helped lead the team to an appearance in the state sectional final. He is also a member of the Illinois Wolves AAU team coached by Mike Mullins.

“We were impressed by his motor on the defensive end of the floor and his ability to score,” Giacoletti said. “But we were more excited after meeting him and his mother, Tayo, in June. We were impressed by his character, which sets him apart from others. He’s a young man with great character that will have a great career here at Drake.”

--Ty Patton, Drake sports information.

Perfect Timing


Count me among the thousands [maybe the word should be millions] of people worldwide who are happy  Iowa has an improved football team this season and will be playing in a bowl

game. I've had my third book about the Hawkeyes on the market since late-summer, and it's selling very well. Obviously, a successful season on the field always helps book sales. When my publishers approached me during the ghastly 2012 season, and asked if I wanted to do a second update to my Tales from the Iowa Sidelines book, I didn't think the timing was right. My first took was published in 2003, and the first updated version hit the market in 2005. Both were best-sellers, which convinced my publishers that any book I wrote about Hawkeye football would also sell out.  However, during the 4-8 season in 2012, I told them I thought it would be a better idea to wait a year or two for another update. They thought otherwise. In a case like that, the publishers always win. And now Iowa is winning. So, with the Hawkeyes headed for a bowl and Christmas on the horizon, I'm confident sales of the book--retitled Tales from the Iowa Hawkeyes Sideline and available in bookstores everywhere, including Barnes & Noble, and on such web pages as Amazon, eBay and Barnes & Noble--will be very strong. My thanks to coach Kirk Ferentz and his Hawkeyes. Perfect timing for all of us. In the photo at the right, I'm in the Kinnick Stadium press box during the 2012 season finale against Nebraska.

The second updated edition of Ron Maly's best-selling book, Tales from the Iowa Hawkeyes Sideline, is now available at Amazon,, Barnes &,,  eBay,,  Barnes & Noble and other leading book stores everywhere. The book, originally published in 2003, chronicles the proud football tradition at the University of Iowa.  Ron had just as much fun writing the third edition of the book as he did the first two, both of which were best-sellers. You will enjoy reading about such high-profile Hawkeyes as 1939 Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick, Alex Karras, Randy Duncan and Bill Reichardt, plus coaches Howard Jones, Dr. Eddie Anderson, Forest Evashevski, Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz. Questions? Contact Ron Maly on Facebook or at

Monday, November 11, 2013

An Update from Al

My neighbor Al, the health nut, was busy most of the weekend, so I didn't have the chance to get any updates from him until today. Just as I figured, Al was ringing my doorbell early this morning, in search of a cup of Dark Roast  Al and the missus are big Valley High School football fans, and I knew they had made
the trip to Ames last Friday night for the Tigers' quarterfinal round playoff game. Al called me on his cell phone while driving back from the game, and was wild about what had taken place. "Tyus Mason ran for 478 yards and Valley kicked the hell out of Ames, 63-20," Al said.. "That doesn't surprise you, does it, Al?"  I said. "Not at all," Al answered. "Ames played a soft regular-season schedule, and was overrated. Valley is playing the best football in the state right now, and could have named the score against Ames. When I went to Hy-Vee to read about the Valley win in the paper, I saw that they gave Mason credit for only 470 yards, which still was the second-highest total in the state. Coach Gary Swenson had Mason out of the game in the final minutes, but now I wish he'd kept him in there to break the record." "But then he'd have been accused of running up the score by the editorial writers at the paper, wouldn't he?" I said. "Hell, I doubt Swenson or anyone else connected with Valley football even read the paper," Al said. "Why would they bother to read those one- and two-paragraph stories about Valley in the paper? All they've got down there are Valley-haters and West Des Moines-haters. They don't even like Dowling very much. Dowling is No. 2 behind Valley on their 'don't-like' list."  "You've got a point, Al," I said. "I'm just glad Valley will be playing Dowling in the 4-A playoff semifinals Friday night at the UNI-Dome at Cedar Falls," Al said. "I know a kid on the Valley team who told me the players have been waiting all season for a rematch with Dowling at the Dome. The Valley kids lost to Dowling during the regular season, and they can't wait to play 'em again." "I imagine you'll be going to the game, right" I asked. "Darn right," Al said. "Me and the missus are planning to make a weekend out of it. "I've got reservations at the Hampton Inn." I asked Al if the atmosphere was good for Valley's easy victory at Ames. "Outstanding!" he said. "There were lots of fans from both schools, and I'd guess that there were more there from Valley than from Ames.  The Ames fans began going home during Valley's onslaught in the last half, which turned the game into a mismatch. The only negative all night was the ridiculous public address announcer from Ames. He kept urging the Ames fans to make noise, even when there was no reason for them to make noise. Valley took the Ames fans right out of the game. I have no idea who that p.a. announcer was. For all I know, he could've been the biology teacher at Ames High School. Or maybe he's got a kid on the team. All I know is, he sounded like a sophomore cheerleader. I've  been to a lot of professional, college and high school football games in my life, but I've never heard a clown like that. Real bush-league. He'd wear thin with me if I had to listen to that guy more than once."  I said, "Forget it, Al. Public address announcers don't decide football games. Valley proved that Friday night. Good luck to the Tigers against Dowling. I'll wait for your report."  "Got another cup of Dark Roast?" Al said.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Drake's Women Not Ready for Prime-Time Yet: Starters Go 6-for-34 from the Field, Team 14-for-54 In 66-41 Loss At Wisconsin. 'You Almost Want To Apologize,' Says Jennie Baranczyk

Wisconsin's women's basketball team cruised to a 66-41 victory Sunday over Drake in front of 3,361 fans at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.

Drake, playing two days after a victory over Creigh, went just 14-for-54 (25.9 percent) from the field. The Bulldogs’ starters fiinished 6-for-34 (17.6 percent) .

“I do think when your starting five goes 6-of-34 that is tough,” said Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk. “We didn’t make shots, we missed a few shots early, and we stopped taking them and stopped flowing into what we do best.”

Freshman Lizzy Wendell (Blue Springs, Mo.), sophomore Ashley Bartow (Verona, Wis.) and redshirt junior Carly Grenfell (York, Neb.) had eight points each to lead the Drake offense. Bartow, from Verona, Wis. which is just outside of Madison, pulled down six rebounds and had two assists and one steal.

Wisconsin’s Michala Johnson, who transferred from Connecticut and sat out the 2012-13 campaign, scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds in her debut. Dakota Whyte had 18 points, while Taylor Wurtz, who redshirted last season, added 13 points and seven rebounds in her return for the Badgers. 

“We played a good home basketball team today in Wisconsin” Baranczyk said. “They had great balance in their scoring. I think Michala Johnson makes a huge difference in this ball team from a year ago. I think obviously having Taylor Wurtz back as a senior leader makes a big difference.”

Johnson had the first points of the ballgame with a layup at the 18:29 mark, but Drake senior Morgan Reid (Kansas City, Mo.) quickly evened the score at 2-2 with a jumper. However, that would be as close as the Bulldogs would get as the Badgers went on a 16-2 scoring run for nine minutes to take control of the contest.

“I credit Wisconsin and everything from this game today,” commented Baranczyk. “I do however believe they didn’t get to see our best. You almost want to apologize for that. They definitely didn’t get to see the team that played on Friday against Creighton from our standpoint.”

Drake forced 13 Wisconsin turnovers, but could only muster four points off of them. The Bulldogs bench outscored the Badgers, 21-7, led by Grenfell and Wendell. After struggling at the foul-line against Creighton, Drake improved to a 9-for-12 (75 percent) performance today. The Bulldogs struggled on the glass as Wisconsin held a 49-34 advantage in the game, including giving up 17 offensive rebounds.

“The other thing was the rebounding margin,” said Baranczyk. “To give up 17 offensive rebounds is huge. They do have a distinct advantage on the inside with their height, that was maybe part of it, and a big part of it was a lot of us just not knocking down the shots we needed to.”

--John Meyer, Drake sports information

'i Couldn't Be More Proud Of Them,' First-Year Coach Ray Giacoletti Says After Richard Carter's 38 Points Send Bulldogs To Come-from-Behind 61-59 Victory At Illinois-Chicago

Richard Carter’s career-high 38 points led Drake's basketball team to a thrilling 61-59 victory at  Illinois-Chicago in Saturday night's season opener.

Drake trailed by as many as nine points in the first half but rallied to lead for the majority of the second half until UIC pulled within one point, 60-59, with one minute to play. A Karl Madison
Richard Carter
(Springfield, Ill.) free throw gave Drake a two-point lead and a missed UIC three-pointer followed by a layup caroming off the rim preserved the win in DU head coach Ray Giacoletti’s first game on the Bulldogs’ bench.

“To come on the road, in our first time playing together with a new coach, I think we showed great composure and I’m excited about this team,” said Carter, who is from Detroit..

Twenty-four of Carter’s 38 points came in the second half with the junior guard going 12-of-17 from the field on the evening and a perfect 12-of-12 from the free-throw line while adding four steals. His 38 points were the most by a Bulldog since Lynnrick Rogers scored 38 points against Wichita State on Feb. 28, 1997.

“He [Carter] got us going and he’s the guy that put us on his back,” Giacoletti said. “We tried to spread the floor and give him some space to come off ball screens and I had no idea he had 38.”

The junior, whose scoring came with the natural flow of the game, was supported by 10 points from Gary Ricks, Jr. (Los Angeles, Calif.) and a game-high seven rebounds from Chris Caird (Daventry, England). The Bulldogs held a 37-30 advantage on the glass and defensively, Drake answered the bell by holding the Flames to just 39.6 percent shooting despite Marc Brown leading UIC with 20 points on a 6-of-12 shooting night.

Facing a 30-25 deficit at halftime, Carter scored Drake’s first 16 points of the second half to give the squad a 41-40 lead with 12:09 left in the game.

“It was great play calling and I was just trying to make plays,” Carter said of the flurry. “I’ve had to score the ball all my life and I just made a few more shots tonight.”

Drake surrendered the lead  only briefly the remainder of the half and extended it to as many as nine points, 55-46, on a Caird three-pointer with 6:02 left. UIC trimmed that advantage to one point, 58-57, with 2:34 left before Carter responded again with a layup for his final points of the evening to build a small cushion to preserve the victory.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Giacoletti said. “We dug ourselves a hole and you appreciate when a team, especially on the road, can dig themselves out of something like that in game one of the season. That’s something we can build on.”

[This story was written for Ron Maly by Ty Patton, Drake's assistant athletic director for communications]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I Already Think It's a Bad Fit

Everyone and his brother [and sister, too] is saying someone who goes by the handle Rick Renteria will be introduced tomorrow as the Chicago Cubs' new manager. Rick Renteria--now that's a baseball no-name if I ever heard one. He's been the bench coach for
the less-than-spectacular San Diego Padres lately, which means he'll fit right in with the lousy weather and mean-spirited, beer-drinking fans at Wrigley Field. Sure. Whatever, I wish Rick Renteria well. But I'm certainly not betting on him succeeding. He's getting a three-year contract. I'm guessing he'll be gone in two. Or less. The college of coaches couldn't do it at Wrigley. Dusty Baker couldn't do it, Mike Quade couldn't do it and Dale Sveum was the biggest flop of all.  I hope Rick Renteria is the answer, and so does Cubs president Theo Epstein. Indeed, if Renteria is a failure, I hope Epstein goes out the door with him in a couple of years.

Poor Charlie

I don't watch much early-morning TV,  but I've seen Charlie Rose on whatever program CBS
has at 7 a.m., and the poor guy always looks like he's had a very bad night. The bags under his eyes wouldn't fit into the overhead bin on any airliner.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Al On a Roll

My neighbor Al, the health nut, was ringing my doorbell at 6:30 this morning, asking for a cup of Dark Roast and raving about what he saw last night at Valley Stadium.

"I haven't lived in West Des Moines all that long," Al said, "so I didn't get to see the Valley football teams coached by Lee Crawford.  "All I know is that Gary Swenson is one hell of a coach, and this 2013 team of his has turned into one hell of a ballclub."

"Hey, Al, I've been telling you that for the last two or three weeks," I said. "This team has made gigantic strides since the first couple of games. These guys are playing as well, if not better, right now than any class 4-A team in the state."

Valley shellacked Sioux City East, 49-0, last night for its eighth straight victory.

"I just hope the paper doesn't get on 'em again for piling up the score," Al said.

"Don't worry about it, Al," I answered. "Adair-Casey ran up 73 points on Twin Cedars of Bussey last night in the 8-player playoffs, so let the paper accuse them of pouring it on."

"You bet," Al commented. "It's just a good thing those people in the editorial department at the paper haven't seen the new auditorium they're in the process of building at Valley now. They tell me it's going to be better than the Des Moines Civic Center. That'll really piss off those Valley haters at the paper. They're no doubt already mad and jealous that Valley won the state cheerleading championship last week, and now the football team keeps trouncing its opponents."

"There wasn't any paper in the deli at Hy-Vee this morning, so I couldn't read what they wrote about the game," Al said. "Mechanical problems in the press room, I suppose, because of the playoffs. But I had my laptop with me, and called up the Sioux City Journal's story on the game. The Journal wrote like Valley is sensational."

"Well, they're experts on suburban Des Moines football up there in Sioux City," I told Al. "Lots of smart folks up there."

Al told me I should read the Journal's story, which I did. And here it is:

A longtime observer of Valley High School football made the comment Monday that he hadn't seen a Tiger team play as well as the current squad has the last several games.

It is hard to dispute that fact after No. 6 Valley made short work of Sioux City East, cruising to a 49-0 victory at Valley Stadium in the second round of the Iowa class 4-A playoffs.
Simply put, East couldn't match up physically with the powerful Tigers, who won their eighth straight game and advanced to the quarterfinal round Friday night.

Valley scored on five of its first half possessions and returned an interception for a touchdown before halftime. Running behind a line that opened up gaping holes, senior Tyus Mason gained 148 yards in the first half.

Senior quarterback Connor LaGrone completed all six of his passes, three of those for touchdowns before most of the Valley starters took the entire second half off.

“I thought we were real efficient in the first half,” Valley coach Gary Swenson said. “We don't ask our quarterback to throw it 50 times, that's not us, but his completion percentage is up around 70 percent so he's very efficient. He makes good decisions, he knows where to put the ball and his accuracy has improved.”

Valley (9-2) has now won eight in a row since dropping two of its first three games.

“Losing to Dowling and Southeast Polk, which are very good football teams, we never really panicked,” Swenson said. “Our quarterback play has gotten better, our offensive line has improved and we've got a game-changer at tailback who we think is as good as anybody in the state.”

Mason, a 165-pound senior, carried 11 times – all in the first half . He scored on a 26-yard run on the fifth play of the game and on the Tigers' second series turned a swing pass into an 80-yard score.

Adam Harris returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown while LaGrone flipped scoring passes to Sam Hartman and Dominique Dafney and fullback Drew Gray plunged in from the 3 before the first half ended with Valley ahead 42-0.

“I said three weeks ago that they are state championship good,” East coach Bob Goodvin said. “We just don't match up on the line of scrimmage at all with them. We tried to move our guys around on defense, we tried to blitz, bring people in more gaps and Mason made our guys miss. He's good.”

Valley's starting offensive line averaged 257 pounds from tackle to tackle and the backups listed on its two-deep (tackle-to-tackle) averaged 267 pounds.

East showed some life early, marching from its own 28 to the Valley 35 on its first possession. A costly holding penalty, however, aborted that drive. Tristen Yap tossed a 25-yarder to Austin Ahrendt on the Black Raiders' second series to the Valley 27, but two plays later was intercepted in the end zone.

East's running game was ground to a halt with only two yards on 22 tries. Yap completed 13 of 26 passes for 137 yards.

“We came out and threw the ball fairly well early, we had a holding call early on that killed us,” Goodvin said. “And when you don't match up on the line of scrimmage you're in for a long night.”

The clock ran continuously from the start of the second half on and couldn't have arrived at zeroes fast enough for East, which closed its season at 7-4.

“That's the third year in a row we've lost to either Ankeny or Valley,” Goodvin said. “It's hard for a 4-A team to beat these guys, other than themselves.

“I think considering all the adversity we've been through with all the injuries --we lost out 10th starter tonight -- and we went 6-3 and won a playoff game, that's a hell of an accomplishment for our kids and coaching staff.”

Swenson, the Sioux City Journal's Siouxland Coach of the Year in 1994 after he guided Spencer to the Class 3A state title, has his Valley squad in a quarterfinal against unbeaten third-ranked Ames.

East 0 0 0 0 – 0
Valley 13 29 7 0 – 49

First Quarter

Valley: Tyus Mason 26 run (Britton Hiskey kick) 6:38
Valley: Mason 80 pass from Connor LaGrone (kick failed) 5:09

Second Quarter

Valley: Adam Harris 35 interception return (Hiskey kick) 11:53
Valley: Sam Hartman 28 pass from LaGrone (Hiskey kick) 9:23
Valley: Drew Gray 3 run (Gray pass from LaGrone) 3:44
Valley: Dominique Dafney 22 pass from LaGrone (Hiskey kick) :06

Third Quarter

Valley: Gray 5 run (Hiskey kick) 1:35


East Valley
First downs 7 18
Rushes-yards 22-2 37-271
Passing yards 137 160
Passes 13-26-3 7-8-0
Total plays-yards 48-139 45-431
Punts-avg. 6-37.3 2.37.5
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-55 4-35


RUSHING: East – Ronald Carter 9-18, Tristen Yap 9-(-8), Ronald Nash 4-(-8). Valley – Tyus Mason 11-148, Trevor Bell 8-86, Drew Gray 6-28, Turner Scott 5-14, Austin Turner 1-4, Taylen Alexander 2-0, Connor LaGrone 3-(-9).
PASSING: East – Tristen Yap 13-26-3—137. Valley – Connor LaGrone 6-6-0—154, Taylen Alexander 1-2-0—6.
RECEIVING: East – Ronald Nash 7-48, Austin Ahrendt 4-51, Alex Stueve 1-27, Ronald Carter 1-1. Valley – Dominique Dafney 2-31, Tyus Mason 1-80, Sam Hartman 1-28, Anthony Holmes 2-15, Carlo Marble 1-18.

[This story was written by Barry Poe of the Sioux City Journal, with contributions from Ron Maly's neighbor Al, the Health Nut].