Saturday, January 31, 2015

The way I look at it, Drake's women's basketball team is the biggest sports story in central Iowa. The Bulldogs improved their Missouri Valley Conference record to 8-0 last night behind Lizzy Wendell's 43-point display that paved the way to a 94-89 overtime victory over Missouri State at the Knapp Center. Consequently, Drake's 1:05 p.m. game Sunday against Wichita State at the Knapp Center is huge. The Shockers are also 8-0 in the league, but their 17-3 overall record is better than Drake's 13-6. “This one was really fun to be on this side … I mean, it could have easily gone either way,” Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk said of her team's success against Missouri State. “Missouri State did a really, really nice job. I thought NiJay Gaines coming home to Des Moines really put on a performance – she had a great game. They rebounded the ball well and they turned us over a little bit too much. What I’m really proud of is the way that when they made their runs, we came back every time… we stayed poised, we stayed steady. For a young team to be able to do that I think that’s really important for today and also for the years to come.” Wendell's 43 points matched her career high. “Lizzy just had another really, really outstanding night in terms of scoring and what I liked the most is she started out great, kind of went a little bit cold and then came back really strong,” commented Baranczyk. There was plenty of other stuff going on last night. We attended the Valley Vocal Jazz Summit Concert at which groups from Dallas Center-Grimes and Norwalk joined Valley and Valley Southwoods in producing an evening of excellent sounds. We made it to the nearby Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse in time to watch Valley's boys' basketball team beat Dowling, 64-60, in front of the largest crowd of the season. Second-ranked Dowling, the state's No. 2-ranked girls' team, was too much for Valley, 69-57, in the preliminary game. I'll be resting the remainder of the weekend.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

If you ask me, this Drake women's basketball deal is getting pretty darn serious. And spectacular. Imagine this: A Bulldog team that went a none-too-sizzling 5-6 in the non-league season, suddenly has a 7-0 record in the Missouri Valley Conference. Coach Jennie Baranczyk certainly isn't doing it with mirrors. She's getting some extraordinary contributions from players such as freshman Maddy Dean, who had a sensational 23-point, 16-rebound performance in today's 79-62 victory at Evansville; sophomore Lizzy Wendell, who had 20 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, and freshman Becca Jonas, who had 18 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Those are outstanding numbers by some very young players. Today's game marked the 31st in a row that Wendell scored 10 or more points. She leads the Valley with 13 20-plus games this season. Drake plays Missouri State at 7:05 p.m. Friday at the Knapp Center in Des Moines. I don't know how long the Bulldogs can keep up this pace, but I'd advise fans to enjoy the ride while they can. This kind of stuff doesn't happen that often. Seven-and-0 in the Valley is looking impressive to me.

Maddy Dean

Valley's Girls Improve Their Record To 14-1 By Handing Iowa City West Its First Loss, 65-56. It Was the Tigers' Fifth Victory Of the Season Over a Ranked Opponent. 'We Get Battle-Tested Every Night In the CIML,' Valley Coach Joe Sigrist Says. 'We Have Five Of the Top Six teams In the State In Our League, and It Seems Like One Of Them Is On the Schedule Every Night.'

The Des Moines Register was in its typical form today--publishing nothing--not one word--on a Valley High School girls' basketball victory. And this one was a huge victory. It was another example of horrible newspapering by the Register. Thank goodness the Iowa City Press-Citizen, like the Register, a Gannett Co., paper, sent reporter Ryan Murken to Saturday's game. Here's his story:

West Des Moines Valley came to Iowa City for a top-five showdown with West High Saturday, sharpened by a daunting CIML conference schedule.

The Tigers left with a win.

Class 5-A No. 5 West Des Moines Valley (14-1) used some hot early shooting and a key third-quarter run to slip past third-ranked West High, 65-56, in a non-conference matchup at West High.

The win was the fifth this season over a ranked opponent for Valley and capped an eight-day stretch where the Tigers played three consecutive games against teams ranked in the top eight of 5-A.

"We just get battle-tested every night in the CIML," Valley coach Joe Sigrist said. "We have five of the top six teams in the state in our league and it seems like one of them is on your schedule every night, so I'm glad we got these guys because that is a heck of a team too."

Grace Vander Weide had a game-high 16 points to lead three Valley players in double figures as the Tigers shot 48 percent from the floor.

West High kept up with a torrid offensive pace early, trailing by a point after the first quarter and 39-35 at the half.

However, 3-for-14 shooting in the third quarter let the Tigers pull away as West High dropped its first game of the season.

"They are really aggressive, and they have to be like that in their conference," West High senior Dani Craig said. "Our conference is good but their conference is really, really tough, so they have to be strong and we are going to take it as a learning experience and use it to our advantage."

West High trailed just 44-39 after a Rachel Saunders basket with 6:03 left in the third quarter, but Vander Weide and the Tigers had an answer.

Valley rattled off a 6-0 run that started with a Vander Weide basket and ended with a Emily Smith layup off a Vander Weide feed that made the score 50-39.

Vander Weide's layup with a minute left capped the third-quarter scoring and gave Valley a 10-point cushion entering the fourth.

"They threw a punch at us in the second half and we weren't exactly ready for it," Craig said.

West High got as close as five points in the third quarter, pulling to within 59-55 on a pair of Emily Halverson free throws with 2:52 left.

However, Vander Weide again had an answer, scoring four points during a 5-0 Valley spurt that pushed the lead back to 10 points.

After shooting 52 percent in the first two quarters, West High was just 7-of-30 from the field in the second half, including 0-of-7 from beyond the 3-point line.

"In the second half we didn't really do much offensively and we were in a five-point game in the middle of the fourth quarter," West High coach BJ Mayer said. "It was one of those nights where we didn't make any shots and you have to give them a lot of credit because I thought they played pretty well."

Mikaela Morgan led West High with 14 points while Craig added 11 for the Women of Troy.
Lexi Merritt hit 4-of-5 3-pointers and had 12 points for Valley while Courtney Carr finished with 10 for the Tigers.

"They are a very good team," Craig said. "All five players they had on the court all the time were really good."

Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.

West Des Moines Valley (65) –Whitney Fuller 2-8 3-9 8, Jackie Feldt 2-2 0-0 5, Grace Vander Weide 6-10 2-4 16, Emily Smith 2-4 4-4 8, Courtney Carr 5-8 0-0 10, Hannah Fuller 1-9 4-6 6, Lexi Merritt 4-5 0-0 12, Team 22-46 13-23 65.

West High (56) – Bella Lozano-Dobbs 2-5 0-0 4, Grace Tafolla 2-6 2-2 6, Ali Tauchen 4-8 1-2 9, Rachael Saunders 2-7 0-0 4, Dani Craig 5-17 0-0 11, Logan Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Jessie Harder 0-1 0-0 0, Mikaela Morgan 6-12 0-0 14, Emily Halverson 1-2 6-8 8, Team 22-58 9-12 56.

WDM Valley19201412— 65
West High 1817813— 56

3-point field goals –WDM Valley 8-15 (Vander Weide 2-2, Feldt 1-1, W. Fuller 1-4, H. Fuller 0-3, Merritt 4-5), West High 3-18 (Lozano-Dobbs 0-1, Tafolla 0-1, Saunders 0-2, Craig 1-8, Harder 0-1, Morgan 2-5). Rebounds – WDM Valley 29 (Vander Weide, C. Carr 5), West High 38 (Morgan 11). Turnovers – WDM Valley 14, West High 15. Total Fouls – WDM Valley 11, West High 19. Fouled Out – Lozano-Dobbs (ICW). Technical Fouls – None.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Right Time To Discover Mullet's


My first-ever visit today to Mullet's restaurant at 1300 SE 1st Street in Des Moines came at the right time.
3-Egg Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese Omullet

Four of us had spent most of the morning watching a bunch of talented high school thespians perform at North High School.

So, at 11:30 a.m., all of us were hungry. 

Like really hungry.

Mullet's was the place we chose to take care of that hunger.

The restaurant was full, and there was a waiting list when we arrived.

So, obviously, plenty of other people had discovered Mullet's before I found it.

If there's smoked salmon on the menu at any restaurant, I'm in business.

And there was smoked salmon for breakfast at Mullet's.

The three-egg Canadian smoked salmon cream cheese omelet [Mullet's calls it an omullet]  I chose came with red pepper and onion, country potatoes, wheat toast and lots of coffee.  All for $9.99.

The breakfast was great, and so was the service.

I'll be back very soon.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mike Swan Writes About 'The Perfect Season'


Mike Swan, a former Iowan and a good friend of my columns and websites, has published a book titled The Perfect Season, which chronicles the accomplishments of the outstanding softball program at Harlan [IA] Community High School in 1979-1980.

Swan is an excellent journalist and teacher of journalism. He is a professor of mass communications and student sports media at Butler Community College in El Dorado, KS, which is located 20 minutes east of Wichita.

Mike sent me a copy of his 32-page book, I have read it, and it's a good one.

The book "looks back at a softball program that was ranked No. 1 during the summer and went  into the state tourney undefeated," Swan tells me via email.  He adds he "was fortunate to land a job as Harlan Newspapers sports editor right out of college. They run a great operation there."

For the book, Swan says he "interviewed the former coach and several of the players in the last couple of years to help put this together. This is definitely a niche publication...At the state tournament in Fort Dodge, one of their games included a 2-1, 16-inning loss to Charles City, the longest state game ever at the time. 

"Ironically, the previous fall, Harlan lost the state championship game to Charles City, 2-1, in the first-ever extra-inning game in the state tourney. Harlan's pitcher was Marcia Jacobsen, who had a 174-22 record in high school, before playing at Creighton. 

"In the fall tourney, they got past powerhouse Ankeny, which you would probably be most familiar with.  The Cyclonettes won, 2-1, against the likes of all-staters Connie Yori, Karlin Hayes, Cheri Andersen, Wendy Turner, Deb Schneider and Coach Dick Rasmussen. 

"This was, as you know, in the days when we would drive back to the newspaper office to complete our work. We would write the stories and headlines, develop and print the photos, lay out the pages, and turn around and do it all over again. A team like this made all that a lot easier. " 

Swan said, "The 1979-80 teams I wrote about were involved in three games that would qualify as 'historic' in Iowa high school girls' softball.  It's a niche story, but one that would perhaps be of interest to a few groups.  I contacted several of the former players and coaches in the last few years for interviews.

"In my office, I have a framed cover of a special supplement we did when I was sports editor of Harlan Newspapers back in 1980. On that front, there is a team photo I took after their 16-inning marathon loss to Charles City in the consolation game at the 1980 summer state tourney in Fort Dodge. That game had lasted close to 3 hours, at the time the longest state tourney game ever. 
"Harlan had gone into the state tourney as the only undefeated team in the state at 33-0. They won their first two in state play, then suffered a close upset, which led to the third-place game against Charles City.  Ironically, they were coming off the fall 1979 season, when they lost in the state championship contest [also to Charles City], 1-0 in nine innings, in the first-ever extra-inning state tourney game.

"Perhaps their biggest accomplishment was getting past Ankeny in that Fall tourney, 2-1. That was no easy task, as Ankeny had a half-dozen all-staters. And again, ironically, Ankeny took the summer, 1980 title, in a game that had to wait due to the Harlan-Charles City marathon.

"There's more, but that's the gist of how things went on the field.

"After all this, you would think there would be some long faces in that team picture as there were seven seniors in the group. They had played together for a long time. To my astonishment, after we made the drive back to Harlan and developed the film early in the morning, I saw everyone was smiling.

"The team had an outstanding Hall of Fame pitcher in Marcia Jacobsen [now Currie], who finished with a 174-22 record. In the booklet, one of her former teammates explains that Marcia's dad would spend countless nights in their barn catching her. Every time [the coach] would teach Jake a new pitch she would practice it until her fingers would literally bleed.

"The team also had to undergo a coaching change [the first for this group] before the summer 1979 season. That led to Russ Gallinger taking over, someone who was a taskmaster and served as an assistant on all those Harlan state championship football teams.

"As you know, Ron, covering a team through a season or seasons leads you through many ups and downs.  I've found the framed front provides a good conversation piece with students and others.  You can talk about the skill of athletes, how to handle interviews in different situations, and the sometimes grueling process of covering a team.

"But I really wondered about the people in that photo. I thought their story might resonate with some today. So, over the last few years, I've contacted at least seven of them and, of course, they are all over the country.  I also found that Gallinger, after many years in Harlan, lives in a town near here. I showed up unannounced one day, and a couple of hours later we had finished our journey down memory lane, with conversation over scrapbooks. 

"The booklet has been well-received by some of the former team members and others and has been advertised in the Harlan paper.

"I'm selling it for $15, and I can be contacted at: or at 1403 Park Ave., El Dorado, KS 67042."

The  book was printed by Mennonite Press, 532 N. Oliver Road, Newton, KS 67114.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Headline writers at the paper are obviously slow learners. 

They're certainly becoming masters at cranking out R-rated stuff. 

While doing so, they're turned into the laughingstocks of sports journalism.

I pointed out earlier in the week that some knucklehead got this headline in the paper:

Pats face investigation
into use of deflated balls

If that wasn't goofy enough, the paper came back this morning with this ridiculous headline:

Deflating balls may not 
be as easy as it seems

I'm wondering who it was that said it's easy to deflate balls.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Something Tells Me That Dan Dakich Of ESPN Won't Be the Guest Speaker At Iowa's Basketball Banquet When the Season Is Over. Something Also Tells Me That Hawkeye Center Adam Woodbury and His Family Won't Be Sending a Christmas Card to Dakich

Dan Dakich

I Wonder What the Wives & Girlfriends Think


I noticed a headline on page 1 of today's sports section in the paper that made me think something very bad had happened to the New England Patriots of the National Football League.

The headline read: 

Pats face investigation
into use of deflated balls
If it were up to me, I know I'd be investigating such a horrible development.

I'd hire the FBI, Scotland Yard and Captain Midnight to get to the bottom of it.

I'll admit I've heard in the past that Patriots coach Bill Belichick is no stranger to bending, or downright breaking, the rules.

But, as far as I'm concerned, deflating his players' balls is taking cheating one step too far.

Then there are the players' wives and girlfriends. 

I wonder what they're thinking about this deal.

I  wouldn't figure they're very happy.

If and when I find out more about the mess, I'll get back to you on it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Something Tells Me TV Ratings for The Bachelor Are Taking a Nose-Dive


The TV in front of me was on, and I was half asleep. 

The half of me that was alert noticed that The Bachelor was on channel 5, so I watched a few minutes of it. 
Chris Soules

I was aware that Chris Soules, the farmer from Iowa,  was the bachelor of the season, and I was also aware that the network would have a bunch of beautiful women on the show who are [maybe] interested in hooking up with Soules. 

I've heard rumors that these types of shows are scripted, so I believe very little about what I see on them. 

After the first 5 or 6 minutes of tonight's show, I began thinking about TV ratings. 

Specifically, I'm wondering if the ratings for The Bachelor are in a nose-dive.


Because, for some reason only the people who run ABC are aware of, network late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel was also on tonight's show.  

Consequently, I'm also wondering if the ratings for Kimmel's show are taking a crap. 

Otherwise, why would he be on The Bachelor, talking about sex 90 percent of time and generally making an ass of himself?  

I quit watching after Soules' first "date" on tonight's show. 

I liked the looks and personality of his date, a well put-together lady from Canada.  

But I'd seen enough of Soules and Kimmel.  

I'll be watching something on Public Broadcasting or the History channel the rest of the night.

Wake me up in a few weeks when Soules hands out his final rose, if indeed he does.

Then again, don't bother.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bill Self Wears a Wig


Bill Self wearing his wig
There were a couple of photos in today's paper that showed Iowa State basketball fans holding signs taunting Kansas coach Bill Self. 

They were holding the signs at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, where the Cyclones defeated Self's team last night, 86-81.

One sign said:

Bill Self Wears Crocs

Another said:

Bill Self Wears Ankle Socks

Funny stuff maybe, but not hilarious.

The next time Self and Kansas play a game at Hilton, I've got a better idea for Iowa State's fans.

They should hold up a huge sign that reads:

Bill Self Wears a Wig

And it would be true.

I know Self wears fake hair because Larry Eustachy, a former Iowa State coach, told me so.

All coaches know the secrets other coaches try to hide, don't they? 

Eustachy had lunch with a few of us several years ago at a Chinese restaurant in West Des Moines.

We were discussing various basketball facts and rumors when, suddenly, Eustachy said:

"Do you know Bill Self wears a wig?"

None of us knew that, but Eustachy insisted it was true.

Now, every time I'm watching a game on TV in which Self is coaching, I try to see if I can find evidence that Self has fake hair. 

Call it a wig, a toupee, a hairpiece, a rug, whatever.

A few minutes ago, I tried to find evidence on the Internet supporting Eustachy's claim that Self wears a wig.

Indeed, there are a number of claims made that Self's hair isn't his own. 

There's no photographic proof, just plenty of words that say the 52-year-old Self wears a wig.

None from the man himself, of course.

With Bill Self, mum's the word when it comes to what's on his head.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

It Was Quite a Saturday In January, Starting With Some Outstanding High School Jazz Choir and Show Choir Performances On trhe Stage At Waukee. The Basketball Victories By Drake [Which I Feared Was Going To Be 0-for-the-Valley], Iowa State and Iowa Made It a Dazzling Afternoon and Night


We spent all day and most of the night watching and listening to some excellent high school jazz choir nnd show choir performances at Waukee.

So I didn't see much basketball on the tube. 

I managed to watch the final few minutes of Iowa State's victory over Kansas on ESPN, and I'd heard earlier that Iowa defeated Ohio State. 

Frankly, I wasn't surprised with the Iowa State and Iowa victories. 

The Cyclones always win at Hilton Coliseum [regardless of what teams they're playing], don't they? 

I knew The Mayor wouldn't let Kansas off the hook tonight.

And Iowa had already beaten a strangely-inept Ohio State team in Columbus this season. I figured the Buckeyes would play an even poorer game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and I was right.

What did get my attention, though, was when I read the story Ty Patton of Drake sent me on my computer about the Bulldogs' game against Indiana State.  

That's the outcome that shocked me. 

I was talking to a longtime Drake fan last night at the Valley-Southeast Polk boys'/girls' doubleheader, and I told him I thought the Bulldogs were headed for an 0-for-the-Missouri-Valley- Conference record this season.  

To me, things were looking hopeless at the Knapp Center [and in every other gym in the Valley] for coach Ray Giacoletti and his players.  

Over the years, I've seen some tremendous basketball at Drake [thank you, Maury John, Tom Davis, Keno Davis, Bob Ortegel and Gary Garner], but I've also observed some lousy Drake teams, too.  

This 2014-2015 squad was one of the worst.

I was wondering if  Drake athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb would have to lure Tom Davis out of retirement a second time so he could pump some blood and oxygen into what had become a basketball program on life support. 

The Bulldogs went into today's game with records of 3-14 overall and 0-5 in the Valley. 

They were playing an Indiana State team that was 5-0 in the league.  

Yet, somehow Drake won the game, 84-78, meaning it won't be a winless league finish after all.    

Patton, Drake's sports information guy,  informed me in his account of the game that the victory was the 190th of Giacoletti's career.  

"I'm proud of this team," Giacoletti said after the game.  "We’ve been through as adverse a situation as I’ve ever been in in 30 years. This team has not splintered and it hasn’t broken.”  

That's good news.  I'll expect a second Valley victory very soon.  

No sense stopping now.

And nice going, Cyclones, Hawkeyes and all of the talented singers and dancers who participated in the  jazz choir and show choir extravaganza today on the stage at Waukee High School. 

Great show by all.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Girls' Basketball Rankings Jolted As History Repeats Itself. No. 6 Southeast Polk, Which Eliminated the Tigers From Last Season's Class 5-A State Tournament, Uses Long-Range Shooting Accuracy To Hand Them Their First Loss In 13 Games In 2014-2015 At Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse. The Tigers, Who Were Ranked No 1, Sink With 76-63 Defeat


In some ways, March 2014 seems so long ago. 

In other ways, it seems very recent.  

I mean, to the girls basketball teams from Southeast Polk and
Valley and to many of their fans, it seemed like yesterday. 

Last March, Southeast Polk broke away from Valley with some strong last-half shooting accuracy to upset the No. 2-ranked Tigers, 68-60, on the opening day of the class 5-A state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines. 

Southeast Polk went on to finish second in the tournament after losing in the championship game to Dowling of West Des Moines. 

Valley went into tonight's game against Southeast Polk unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the state. 

Same story as in March. 

Sixth-ranked Southeast Polk trailed early, but began shooting up a storm from long range in the last half, and wound up with a 76-63 victory at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse on Valley's campus. 

Obviously, the Rams [9-2] deserved to win and are better than advertised. 

And, obviously, Valley [12-1] needs to play better defense and must rebound with more authority if it is to make a return trip to the state tournament. 

It's a long way until March. 

Then, again, maybe it isn't.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Flashback: A Relic Of a Basketball Arena, Bugs Bagstad, Otis Dypwick and a Rookie Sports Editor


While watching on TV as Iowa beat Minnesota, 77-75, in a Big Ten basketball game a couple of nights ago, I went into rewind.  

The game was played at Williams Arena, a relic of a place on the Minnesota campus. 
The Barn

People often refer to Williams Arena now as The Barn.

One reason they call it The Barn is because it's so old. 

I mean, Williams Arena was old when I saw my first game there more than a half-century ago.  

I had just gotten my degree from the University of Iowa in January, 1958, and I was in my first few months of being sports editor at the Albert Lea [Minn.] Tribune

Even though the Albert Lea Tigers weren't a good basketball team that season, and weren't threats to make it to the state high school tournament, my boss and I thought it would be  a good idea for me to cover the tournament.  

The event, which lasted nearly a week, was held at Williams Arena, which then had a seating capacity of more than 18,000.  

Because I knew little about Minneapolis, the boss thought it would be a good idea to send someone with me to show me around the big city.  

He chose Palmer "Bugs" Bagstad, a longtime sports fan who worked in the printing department at my paper. 

Bugs' job was to drive me to Minneapolis, and to get me to wherever I needed to be. 

His reward was free lodging in Minneapolis and a ticket to all of the games in the tournament. 

It was a good deal for Bugs and a good deal for me.

I had obtained a press credential to the tournament from Otis Dypwick, who then was the sports information at the University of Minnesota.  

Dypwick and his staff were responsible for media credentials,  scorekeeping and setting up  interviews at the tournament. 

With a guy who had an unforgettable name like Otis Dypwick, you had to figure he was pretty darn knowledgeable and pretty darn important. 

Otis Dypwick certainly was both. 

Otis was also a very nice man. 

I was 22 years of age when I covered the tournament, but probably looked [and maybe sometimes acted] like I was 15. 

I had a lot of questions for Otis Dypwick during that high school tournament, and he patiently answered all of them. 

It didn't make any difference that I was a rookie sports editor from a smalltown southern Minnesota paper. 

He treated me with as much respect as he treated the reporters from Minneapolis and St. Paul.  

Thanks, Otis Dypwick, and thanks, Bugs Bagstad, for making my first trip to Williams Arena a pleasure.  

In 1958, I wasn't surprised by the noise generated inside Williams Arena because I had watched many games--of both the high school and collegiate variety--at Iowa Fieldhouse in Iowa City, another relic of a place.  

A huge difference between Williams Arena and Iowa Fieldhouse is that Minnesota still plays its games at Williams and Iowa now plays in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. 

Williams Arena has undergone a number of revisions over the years. Indeed, its seating capacity is now 14,625--down from the 18,025 shoehorned into the place when I saw my first game there. 

Thank goodness for modern fire laws. 

I covered many basketball games, of course, at Williams Arena after leaving Albert Lea.  

There were lots of thrills and, yes, some frustrations, too, while watching Hawkeye teams coached by Ralph Miller, Dick Schultz, Lute Olson, George Raveling and Tom Davis take teams into an arena that has a strange raised floor.  

The players' benches and the tables where the official scorers sit are two feet below the playing court. 

Head coaches are permitted to stand on the court, above the benches, during games.

I certainly heard no complaints about the seating [or standing] arrangements from Iowa coach Fran McCaffery after this week's victory at Williams Arena.

Right now, he's got to be thinking The Barn isn't a bad place to stand [or play] at all. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Some Very Good News


You know me. 

Always looking for something positive to write. 

And, after researching some future collegiate football schedules, I think I've found something to be optimistic about.  

We all know that Ohio State is the new national champion. 

We all know the Buckeyes have better players on their roster than most NFL teams. 

We all know Ohio State's Urban Meyer is  the best coach on the planet.  

So here's the good news: Iowa won't have to play Ohio State next season or the season after that. 

Indeed, the Buckeyes are on the Hawkeyes' schedule only once in the next five seasons--and that game is Nov. 4, 2017 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. 

Then Ohio State drops off Iowa's schedule again at least the next two years. 

Hey, that Iowa-Ohio State game in 2017 is a long way away. 

So the Hawkeyes won't have to tee it up against God's gift to football for quite some time. 

Heck, maybe Urban Meyer won't even be coaching Ohio State in 2017.

For that matter, who knows if Kirk Ferentz will be coaching Iowa by that time.

I hope he is, but anything could happen. 

Kirk might decide to be a success doing something else.

In 2017, Urban Meyer may be coaching in the NFL. 

If he is, you know his team will be best in the league, and he'll be the best coach in the league. 

I guess it wouldn't surprise me if Meyer if commissioner of the NFL, or owns all of the teams by 2017.

All I know for certain is, after watching this week's national championship collegiate game in which Ohio State crushed Oregon, 42-20,  I'm glad Iowa doesn't play the Buckeyes until Nov. 4, 2017.

Monday, January 12, 2015

On With The Show

Valley High School put its spectacular show choir and jazz choir groups on display for family and friends tonight in the Performing Arts Center on the school's West Des Moines
campus, and it was  thumbs-up all the way. Valley will join show choirs and jazz choirs from many other high schools Saturday at Waukee in the first competition of the season.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

No. 1-Ranked Valley Girls Win In Overtime, 88-81

Our ladies continue to find ways to WIN! 88-81 victory over Xavier [of Cedar Rapids] in OT. Role players stepped up in big moments to secure the TEAM WIN

[The victory at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse on Valley's campus improved the No. 1-ranked Tigers' record to 11-0.] 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

'I Coach Such Amazing Young Ladies,' Tweets Valley's Joe Sigrist


I didn't make it to Valley's boys'/girls' basketball doubleheader last night at Waukee. But my son and his family were on hand for the games, and I received texts throughout the night with scores of the games. I was particularly interested in the girls' game because it was a matchup of a Waukee team that was ranked No. 1 among the state's class 5-A squads, and a Valley team that was No. 2. Valley won, 72-66, which means the Tigers will be No. 1 in the next rankings. Coach Joe Sigrist's Tigers have a 9-0 record as they try to make a second consecutive trip to the state tournament. The 2013-2014 team lost to Southeast Polk in the opening round at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines. Sigrist has done a wonderful job of pumping life into Valley's girls' program. After my son texted me with the final score last night at Waukee, I tweeted Sigrist with my congratulations, and he sent a return tweet a while later. It'll be fun seeing if the Tigers, who again don't have much size but make up for it with a lot of wire-to-wire scrappy play, can continue winning at their present pace. Waukee will certainly not go away anytime soon. The Warriors will  be factors the rest of the season, and so will Dowling. In other words, there's a long way to go until the state 5-A tournament in March.

Ronald Wesley Maly @WesleyVaclav
@JOhioSigrist Tremendous win tonight at Waukee, Joe! The Tigers are headed to the top of the state rankings. Keep up the great work. - 07 Jan
Josef Sigrist @JOhioSigrist
@WesleyVaclav It was an AWESOME environment! I coach such amazing young ladies... My job is so fun! Thank you for the kind words.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Jim Leiser, His Cushman Motor Scooter, the Drive-In Theater

Jim Leiser of Iowa City, a friend from my high school days in Cedar Rapids, died recently in Las Vegas. Here's what I wrote to his widow, Janet, and her family in the memories section in connection with his obituary at an Iowa City funeral home:
 I  was very sorry to learn of Jim's death.  He and I were classmates many years ago at Wilson High School in Cedar Rapids.
 Both of us were in the 1953 graduating class.  If memory serves me correctly, I piloted Jim's Cushman motor scooter around the block a time or two without,incident during our years at Wilson.  Jim was among the fortunate few in our class who was able to afford a motor scooter, and it was nice of him to trust me as the occasional driver of the Cushman.  I'm dating myself with this comment, but I also think I was among the passengers in a car owned by Jim that attempted to sneak into the drive-in theater on the westside of Cedar Rapids back in the days when there were still drive-in movie theaters.  Unfortunately, our endeavor didn't work out the way we had it planned.  A security guy at the drive-in caught us before we got into the theater, and instructed us to go home--or at least go somewhere far away from the drive-in.  Those were the days!   I believe I also remember Jim's wife, the former Janet Dumond.  I think she and I were classmates at Lincoln Elementary School at 18th Avenue and 9th Street in Cedar Rapids.  Correct me if I'm wrong about that, Janet. Also, of course, Janet and I were classmates at Wilson.  My best to Janet and everyone else in Jim's family. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.   *  Jim's obituary, courtesy of the Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service in Iowa City:

James E. "Big Jim" Leiser, 79, of Iowa City, died unexpectedly, Tuesday, December 9, 2014, in Las Vegas, NV.
Jim Leiser

Jim was born July 25, 1935, in Sumner, Iowa, the son of Joseph and Beverly (House) Leiser. His family moved to Cedar Rapids where he graduated from Wilson High School.

On August 23, 1953, he was united in marriage to Janet M. Dumond.

The couple lived in Cedar Rapids until moving to Iowa City in 1966. For the past 15 years, Jim and Janet wintered in Arizona.

Jim enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he proudly served his country during the Korean War.

He was the first of three generations serving in the Marine Corps. Himself in Korea; his son, James E. Leiser Jr. during the Vietnam War and his grandson, Wesley J. Leiser during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Jim was a proud member of the local 125 Plumbers Union as a Master Plumber, retiring in 1991. He was a member of the American Legion, VFW, and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. As an avid swimmer, he competed in the Veterans Golden Age Games.

He was a proud Marine who had a wonderful sense of humor and a generous heart.

His family includes his wife of 61 ½ years, Janet; children, James Leiser Jr. (Sue) of Cedar Rapids; Lynn Martin (Mitch) and Lisa Leiser-Lovetinsky (Dale) all of Iowa City; five grandchildren, Wesley Leiser (Dawn) of Anamosa, Amy Leiser-Vega (Jay McCary) of Cedar Rapids, Chris Martin (Jenny), and Kelly Martin (Jon Flickinger), both of North Liberty and Joseph Rundlett (Anna Leavy) of West Branch; 9 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great grandson, a sister, Elaine Hayes (Larry) of Overland, Kansas; and longtime family friends Gizz Blakley and Jim and Karen Tucker all of Iowa City.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

COPD & Dying


This doesn't come as any news to me, but I thought I'd pass it along to My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut and everyone else. The
Cleveland Clinic says approximately 80 percent of COPD deaths are caused by smoking. Just to make you aware, My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut used to smoke, but quit many years ago.  He doesn't have COPD, but I know some people who do. Most of them are on oxygen 24/7. It certainly doesn't look like a fun disease, especially when I see those commercials advertising some sort of medication that might help their lungs [pictured] function better. There's always an elephant sitting in the room, sometimes on a guy's chest. Not a pretty sight. Please quit smoking if you haven't already done so.