Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Emmert Is Paper's New [And Old] Hawkeye Reporter


I hear that Mark Emmert will be the new sports reporter covering University of Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register.

Mark Emmert
That's the same Mark Emmert who once was deputy sports editor at the Register. 

And it's the same Mark Emmert who also was a sports reporter at the Register a few years ago until he was one of many victims of cutbacks, layoffs and firings at the Gannett Co. newspaper.

Most recently, Emmert has been a sportswriter at the Press-Herald in Portland, Maine.

It's unusual for a paper--especially the Register--to rehire someone who was laid off at a previous time.

The Register has been without a second writer on the Hawkeye sports beat since Rick Brown accepted a buyout late last year. 

Brown was labeled a columnist, and Chad Leistikow [formerly a Register sports editor] was the reporter. Leistikow has since been named the Hawkeye columnist.

I hear that 150 or so people applied for the job Emmert landed.  I'm told that Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette was among the runnersup.

LeBron James Adds Insult To UNI's Injury. The NBA Standout Says He Would Quit Basketball If He Played for the Panthers After They Blew a 12-Point Lead In 44 Seconds At NCAA Tournament

By Chip Patterson |
Texas A&M's furious NCAA basketball tournament comeback at the end of regulation time against Northern Iowa is still making ripples across the basketball world. 

LeBron James
After all, storming back from 12 points down in 44 seconds in regulation is the largest deficit overcome to win in college basketball history.

For Texas A&M fans it was pure elation. For Northern Iowa it was a heartbreak of the worst kind. Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James showed very little sympathy for the Panthers when asked about the comeback, telling ESPN's Dave McMenamin he would "quit basketball" if he played for Northern Iowa.

 LeBron's tweet on the A&M comeback over UNI: "I would quit basketball. If I was on Northern Iowa, I would quit."

James has already ruffled feathers with his social media behavior recently, but this is a below-the-belt shot at a team that is already hurting after the crushing defeat.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I'm Picking Iowa State To Win the Championship


I'm picking Iowa State to win it all.

Collegiate basketball's national championship, I mean.

There is no team remaining in the field that the Cyclones can't beat.

Steve Prohm is doing an excellent job of coaching, and his players are performing very well as they approach Friday night's Sweet Sixteen game against Virginia. 

Consequently, if the Cyclones bring their "A" game against every opponent [and that's a very important requirement], I figure they'll win the whole deal.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tough Day


I'm a bit concerned about My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut.

I haven't seen him all day.

I invited him over for a cup of Italian Dark Roast, but he said he wasn't feeling well.

Al not feeling well is like Trump saying something nice.

It happens once every 6 months.

"Take another of your multi-vitamins," I said.

"I ran out," he told me. "This NCAA basketball tournament has been tough on me."

Al is, of course, a strong Northern Iowa sports fan.

He's in mourning because of the Panthers' heartbreaking loss last night to Texas A&M in The Big Dance.

The one in which UNI blew a 12-point lead in the final 44 seconds of regulation time, I mean.

"It's going to take me a while to get over this," Al said.

"I sympathize with you," I told him. "The Italian Dark Roast will be ready when you are."

Late-Season Collapses


Late-season collapses happen in all sports.

Certainly in collegiate basketball.

You've seen them, I've seen them.

Collapses sometimes happened to the teams I was covering in my nearly 40 years of newspaper writing.

They're not fun for the players and coaches. 

They're not fun for the fans.

They're not fun for the newspaper and electronic journalism folks covering those teams.

The teams I covered most of the time were Iowa, Iowa State and Drake. 

All of them experienced occasional late-season collapses. 

I always tried to find out why, and I upset a lot of coaches with the questions I asked about those collapses. 

Coaches--especially coaches with large paychecks and large egos--don't like to be asked why their teams collapse. 

That said, I think it's time someone in the writing and/or broadcasting business in our state asked a few questions about why the Hawkeyes have experienced a couple of late-season collapses in recent years.

I am fully aware that a lot of sportswriters and sportscasters have become very timid with their questioning, writing and talking in recent years because they are fearful of pissing off their bosses and the coaches and players they cover.

Those writers and talkers don't want to be fired from the fragile businesses in which they work.

But I know one or two guys from eastern Iowa who should be confident of not being canned if they ask some tough questions and write a "why-did-this-team-fold-its-tent?" type story.

It's not controversial to do something like that.

It's called doing your job.

Hopefully,  one or both will find out one of these days why an Iowa team that had a 10-1 record in a Big Ten Conference [that was no great shakes in strength this season] lost 6 of its last 8 games [including the NCAA tournament] and was thoroughly embarrassed,  87-68, by Villanova in the second round of The Big Dance.

Two of those defeats were somehow administered by Big Ten also-rans Penn State and Illinois.

Please don't tell me these 19-year-old, 20-year-old and 21-year-old Hawkeyes are, or were, tired. 

That's a lame excuse.

It's a cop-out.

All basketball players have the right to be tired in March.  

Even players who are 19, 20 and 21.

The strong teams play through being tired. 

The strong teams are still playing.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pure Agony


I've been watching collegiate basketball games for many, many years.

Seventy years, to be exact.

I want to say that, until tonight, I had never seen a team cough up a 12-point lead in the final 44 seconds of regulation time.

In an NCAA tournament game or any other game.

Consequently, I feel very sorry for the players at Northern Iowa.

They thought they'd be playing in Anaheim, Calif., later this week.

Instead, they'll be watching the rest of The Big Dance on TV in Cedar Falls.

Heartbreaking. Shocking.  Agonizing. Unbelievable.

All of the words fit.

The Panthers deserve better. 

Just one more thing.

Hopefully in preseason practices in future years, the coaches will teach more than one player how to throw the ball inbounds.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It's Official. B. J. Windhorst Is Coach Of the Year


From my perspective, there's still some unfinished business pertaining to the 2015-2016 high school basketball season in our state.

B. J. Windhorst
The team champions were crowned last week on the court at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

What hasn't been done is the naming of the Official Coach Of the Year award.

That honor, as far as these columns and this website are concerned, goes to B. J. Windhorst of Valley High School.

In just his second season as the Tigers' coach, Windhorst directed them to the class 4-A championship.

In doing so, he accomplished something a number of other coaches at the massive high school in West Des Moines couldn't.

It was Valley's first state basketball title since Bill Harris coached the 1993 team to the championship.

In this 23-3 season, Windhorst and his players put to rest the thinking that Valley couldn't win big in basketball.

That belief has been prevalent since Gary Swenson took over the football coaching respaonsibilities at Valley, and produced five class 4-A state championships.

I kept hearing that the best athletes at Valley, for one reason or another, didn't show interest in playing basketball.

That's certainly not true now.

Indeed, most of the standout players on the Tigers' championship basketball team also played on the Valley football squad that lost to Dowling of West Des Moines in the semifinal round of the 4-A  football playoffs.

The fact that Valley has plenty of athletes who are interested in participating in successful basketball was a main reason Windhorst became interested in the coaching job after Jeff Horner left in 2014.

Horner's 2013-2014 Tigers lost to Iowa City West in the 4-A championship game.

It was Iowa City West that Windhorst's 2016 team defeated in the title game last Saturday night, 46-39.

Valley's march to the championship certainly wasn't easy.

The team withstood late-season injuries to two key starters--Carlo Marble and Peyton Long. Marble suffered a broken bone in his left wrist that was supposed to end his season, and Long underwent arthroscopic surgery on a knee.

Marble said he was told by medical people that he wouldn't be able to play after sustaining the broken wrist.

After sitting out one game, he decided to play nonetheless.

I doubt Valley could have won the championship without him.

Windhorst felt his Tigers played their best basketball of the season while winning their three state tournament games over Dowling, Pleasant Valley and Iowa City West.

Windhorst was an outstanding shooter during his playing career at Drake in the mid-1990s, and his offenses at Valley have been very good.

But so have the defenses he and valuable assistant coach Brian Frick have developed.

Indeed, the variety of suffocating-style zone defenses Valley employed in its three state tournament victories were instrumental.

The amazing thing about Windhorst is that he doesn't even teach at Valley.

After taking two of his Southeast Polk teams to the state tournament, he left coaching for three years and took an administrative sales job.

Consequently, during the basketball seasons at Valley, Windhorst juggles the time-consuming responsibilities of coaching with his other job.

My hope is that the man is getting some much-needed rest this week during spring break.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Dance


I've been preoccupied with high school basketball in recent days, but that doesn't mean I didn't take some time today to find out what all of us fully expected--that Iowa, Iowa State
The Big Dance

and Northern Iowa all will be in the NCAA tournament, also known as The Big Dance.

I wish our state's fourth Division I university--Drake-was also getting ready to play in The Dance. 

But when a team has a 7-24 record like the Bulldogs had in the 2015-2016 season, a postseason snub is not a shock.

The chatterboxes on CBS and ESPN informed me that Iowa will play Temple; Iowa State will confront Iona [be careful with the spelling of that school; don't confuse it with Iowa], and UNI will match shots and rebounds with Texas.

Frankly, a couple of my friends [who think they know a lot about major-college basketball] are a bit concerned that one or two of our teams may not survive the opening round. 

But, being the optimist that I am, I want to assure you that all three Iowa squads will make it to the second round.

Good luck to all of them.

And maybe next season, Drake will join the other three teams in The Dance.

Like I said, I'm an optimist.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Principal Knew the Numbers: Valley's 23rd Basketball Victory Of the 2015-2016 Season Resulted In the School's First State High School Championship Following a 23-Year Wait. After the Tigers Defeated Iowa City West, 46-39, Coach B. J. Windhorst Told Me His Team Was Very Unselfish and Played Its Best Basketball Of the Season In the State Tournament. After Being Held Scoreless 2 Years Ago In a Valley Loss To West In the Title Game, Quinton Curry Led the Tigers With 16 Points and 9 Rebounds In the Finale Of His Junior Season


The celebrating didn't end until a few minutes before midnight Saturday in the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse on the Valley High School campus.

It's no wonder.

Everyone had a lot to celebrate after the Tigers won the state class 4-A basketball championship with a 46-39 victory over Iowa City West at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines.

Lots of pictures were snapped as players, coaches and family members huddled around the state championship trophy.

Valley fans had been waiting for this a long time.

Tim Miller, Valley's principal, pointed that out when he picked up the microphone to start the celebration in the school gym.

"I noticed the banner on the wall that said Valley last won a state basketball championship in 1993," Miller told the huge gathering of players, coaches and fans.

"That meant it happened 23 years ago. And tonight was the team's 23rd win of the season!"

Valley wrapped up a 23-3 season by winning it all in B. J. Windhorst's second season as the coach.

In my newspaper years, I wrote stories about Windhorst when he was playing basketball at Drake.

There were no championships in those years.

I reminded B. J. of that when I talked with him during last night's celebration.

He told me how good it felt to be back coaching high school basketball, and how good it feels to be at Valley, after leaving coaching for three years following a stint at Southeast Polk.

But he doesn't teach classes at Valley. His primary source of income is in sales work. He somehow juggles the coaching responsibilities with the other job.

He credited assistant coach Brian Frick with providing plenty of support.

Although it might sound like Windhorst's coaching job is a parttime deal, you know and I know the time he spends at practices, games, team meetings, etc., during the season means he's a very busy guy in the winter months.

This is Windhorst's first state championship.

"I took a couple of my Southeast Polk teams to the state tournament," he said, "and we got to the championship game once.

"The trouble was, we had to play the Ames team that had Harrison Barnes and Doug McDermott, so we didn't win."

Windhorst said this Valley team "is the most unselfish group of players I've ever been around. I'm very proud of them."

Windhorst said his team improved as the season progressed, and "we played our best basketball this week" in the state tournament.

It took some doing to accomplish all of that.
B. J. Windhorst and His Family

Indeed, the situation did not look good a few weeks ago.

Peyton Long, a 6-4 inside force, had arthroscopic surgery on a knee, and 6-5 Carlo Marble broke a bone in his left wrist during a game against Ankeny.

"Doctors told Carlo he wouldn't be able to play any more this season," Windhorst said. "He sat out one game, then decided 'the heck with this' and had the wrist taped up and resumed playing."

I asked Marble about that, and he confirmed the story.

"I didn't want to miss the rest of the season," he said, "so I went against what the doctors said and decided to keep playing."

Marble has had more than a broken wrist to battle as a high school student.

There was lots of emotion involved. Lots of sadness.

He spent most of the 2014-2015 school year in Michigan, where his father, former University of Iowa standout basketball player Roy Marble, was dying of cancer.

"After my dad died, my mother decided we'd move back here, so I was able to play both football and basketball at Valley as a senior," Carlo said.

Marble finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds Saturday night.

Valley's Quinton Curry led both teams with 16 points [he was 6-for-7 on field goals] and 9 rebounds in the final game of his junior season.

He'll be quite a building block when Windhorst starts practice for the 2016-2017 season.

Curry was a member of the Valley team that lost to Iowa City West two years ago in the 4-A championship game.

"I didn't score any points that night," he recalled. "I remember that game very well. We wanted this game tonight more than [West] did."

Valley's defense was superb throughout the tournament, and it definitely had an influence on the outcome against Iowa City West.

West made only 10 field goals all night and shot only 28.6 percent against Valley's stifling variety of zone defenses.

West [21-5] had only 14 points at the half.  Valley had 23.

As usual, 5-10 senior guard Turner Scott ran Valley's offense, and contributed 10 points. He had a game-high five assists.
VISITORS: Iowa City West 21-5
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
10 Parks, Wali......... *  3-3    0-0    5-5    2  3  5   2  11  1  0  0  0  32
12 Henderson, Alex..... *  2-8    2-6    2-2    0  2  2   4   8  0  2  0  2  32
14 Lane, Devontae...... *  4-13   1-4    5-8    3  0  3   3  14  1  4  1  4  32
20 Lohaus, Tanner...... *  0-3    0-0    2-2    1  1  2   5   2  0  2  0  2  24
30 McCaffery, Connor... *  1-6    1-6    1-3    0  2  2   4   4  3  4  0  1  32
22 McCaffery, Patrick..    0-2    0-2    0-0    0  2  2   0   0  0  0  0  0   4
24 Majors, Dallas......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
32 Barnes, Nate........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   3
   TEAM................                         2  1  3
   Totals..............   10-35   4-18  15-20   8 11 19  18  39  5 12  1  9 160

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  4-13 30.8%   2nd Half:  6-22 27.3%   Game: 28.6%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-7  28.6%   2nd Half:  2-11 18.2%   Game: 22.2%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  4-6  66.7%   2nd Half: 11-14 78.6%   Game: 75.0%    3

HOME TEAM: Valley, W Des Moines 23-3
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
04 Economos, Pete...... *  1-1    1-1    1-2    0  3  3   2   4  0  4  2  0  30
10 Scott, Turner....... *  2-9    2-5    4-4    0  1  1   1  10  5  4  0  3  32
22 Marble, Carlo....... *  3-9    1-5    3-6    2  5  7   3  10  2  1  0  1  32
30 Long, Peyton........ *  2-3    0-0    0-0    5  2  7   4   4  0  4  0  0  29
44 Curry, Quinton...... *  6-7    0-0    4-4    1  8  9   5  16  1  3  0  1  32
02 Hinkle, Austin......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
12 Skinner, Reese......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
32 Crowley, Charley....    1-3    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   1   2  0  0  0  0   5
   TEAM................                                             1
   Totals..............   15-32   4-11  12-16   9 19 28  16  46  8 17  2  5 160

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-18 55.6%   2nd Half:  5-14 35.7%   Game: 46.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-5  60.0%   2nd Half:  1-6  16.7%   Game: 36.4%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  0-0   0.0%   2nd Half: 12-16 75.0%   Game: 75.0%    1

Officials: Royce Ranniger, David Schonrock, Jason Slaughter
Technical fouls: Iowa City West-None. Valley, W Des Moines-None.
Score by Periods                1st  2nd  3rd  4th   Total
Iowa City West................    8    6   12   13  -   39
Valley, W Des Moines..........   12   11    9   14  -   46
Fouled Out - Iowa City West - #20 T Lohaus (2:02)
            Valley, W Des Moines -#44 Q Curry (:14.7)

Points in the paint-IC-WEST 8,VALLEY 18. Points off turnovers-IC-WEST 21,VALLEY 16.
2nd chance points-IC-WEST 8,VALLEY 6. Fast break points-IC-WEST 2,VALLEY 2.
Bench points-IC-WEST 0,VALLEY 2. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-2 times.
Last FG-IC-WEST 4th-00:41, VALLEY 4th-03:34.
Largest lead-IC-WEST by 1 1st-04:29, VALLEY by 11 2nd-04:57.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Valley Reached State Class 4-A Championship Game Against Iowa City West Because B. J. Windhorst Of the Tigers Outcoached and Out-Smarted Steve Hillman In a 2-Overtime Thriller That Ended On Turner Scott's Basket At the Buzzer


There were several reasons why Valley of 
West Des Moines today propelled itself into Saturday night's state high school class 4-A 
championship basketball game against
Iowa City West at Wells Fargo Arena:

1. Valley coach B . J. Windhorst outcoached
and outsmarted Pleasant Valley's Steve Hillman in the Tigers' 50-48 victory in 2 overtimes.

2. Valley utilized all sorts of zone defenses--1-3-1, 2-2-1 and matchup among them--to befuddle a Pleasant Valley team that was seeded No. 1 and came into the tournament with one defeat and a supposedly high-octane offense.

3. The Tigers made up for an off-game by 6-foot 6-inch inside force Quinton Curry with the 2-pronged offensive attack of Turner Scott, who drilled the winning basket at the buzzer, and Carlo Marble. Scott actually didn't shoot well from the field [4-for-18], but finished with 17 points. Marble had 16. Curry was limited to 7 before fouling out.

4.  Valley withstood a sensational 34-point performance by Will Carius, who was 7-for-9 from 3-point distance. Carius got little or no help from anyone else. You don't win state tournament games with one player.

5. With Curry out of the game because of fouls in the second 4-minute overtime, Windhorst's players stalled for one shot. Scott provided the vital shot. Chris Cuellar of the paper  wrote that it was "a controversial double-overtime finish." Controversial, my ass.  It's a maneuver fully within the rules.  Nothing controversial about a decision to hold the ball for one shot when a 6-6 stalwart is on the bench.  Cuellar was the only controversy. He couldn't get anyone to agree with him in the postgame interviews that holding the ball was controversial, so he tried to label it a controversial finish anyway.  Hillman's team was ranked and seeded higher than Valley. He should have told his players to attempt a steal when Valley was holding the ball instead of waiting around for the Tigers to launch a final shot.  Hillman should apologize to his players and his team's fans for not being more aggressive at crunch time.

VISITORS: Valley, W Des Moines 22-3
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
04 Economos, Pete...... *  1-2    0-0    0-0    0  3  3   3   2  1  1  0  3  37
10 Scott, Turner....... *  4-18   1-5    8-11   0  1  1   0  17  1  1  0  2  40
22 Marble, Carlo....... *  5-11   3-7    3-6    0  3  3   4  16  2  0  2  2  39
30 Long, Peyton........ *  3-5    0-1    0-0    3  5  8   4   6  2  1  1  0  38
44 Curry, Quinton...... *  2-2    0-0    3-3    1  3  4   5   7  0  2  1  0  28
02 Hinkle, Austin......    0-0    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   1   0  0  0  0  0   4
32 Crowley, Charley....    1-3    0-0    0-0    1  1  2   2   2  0  1  0  1  14
   TEAM................                            1  1
   Totals..............   16-41   4-13  14-20   6 17 23  19  50  6  6  4  8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  5-18 27.8%   2nd Half:  9-19 47.4%   OT:  2-4  50.0%   Game: 39.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  0-4   0.0%   2nd Half:  3-7  42.9%   OT:  1-2  50.0%   Game: 30.8%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  4-7  57.1%   2nd Half:  7-8  87.5%   OT:  3-5  60.0%   Game: 70.0%    3

HOME TEAM: Pleasant Valley 23-2
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
04 Kitzmann, Alex...... *  0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  3  0  0  15
21 Dayman, Brian....... *  1-4    0-0    3-6    0  7  7   2   5  0  3  0  0  40
24 Carius, Will........ *  8-14   7-9   11-13   1  3  4   1  34  2  1  1  1  40
32 Czamecki, John...... *  1-3    0-0    0-0    1  4  5   3   2  6  0  0  0  34
52 Milam, Carter....... *  2-8    0-0    1-1    3  5  8   4   5  1  0  0  0  33
14 Montgomery, Trevon..    1-2    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   3   2  2  3  0  0  33
34 Fields, DiAnte......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  4  0  0   5
   TEAM................                            2  2
   Totals..............   13-31   7-9   15-20   5 22 27  14  48 11 14  1  1 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  2-12 16.7%   2nd Half: 10-16 62.5%   OT:  1-3  33.3%   Game: 41.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-3  33.3%   2nd Half:  6-6  100 %   OT:  0-0   0.0%   Game: 77.8%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  6-8  75.0%   2nd Half:  5-6  83.3%   OT:  4-6  66.7%   Game: 75.0%    1

Officials: Scott Maine, Thomas McQuillen, Pete Peterson
Technical fouls: Valley, W Des Moines-None. Pleasant Valley-None.

Score by Periods                1st  2nd  3rd  4th   OT  OT2   Total
Valley, W Des Moines..........    6    8   15   13    6    2  -   50
Pleasant Valley...............    4    7   14   17    6    0  -   48 
Fouled Out: Valley #44 Q. Curry @ 0:05.1 1st OT

Points in the paint-VALLEY 20,PLEASANT 8. Points off turnovers-VALLEY 16,PLEASANT 5.
2nd chance points-VALLEY 8,PLEASANT 5. Fast break points-VALLEY 4,PLEASANT 0.
Bench points-VALLEY 2,PLEASANT 2. Score tied-10 times. Lead changed-7 times.
Last FG-VALLEY OT2-00:01, PLEASANT  OT-00:48.
Largest lead-VALLEY by 9 3rd-05:22, PLEASANT by 3 1st-05:27.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Sandwich Was Great, the Game Was Lousy


I saw part of the game on TV--the first half while dining on my barbecue turkey sandwich, fries and ice water at Jethro's on 22nd, the last half at home. 

Neither half was pretty.

My sandwich was great, the game was lousy.

Indeed, neither half of Iowa's basketball game against Illinois today in the Big Ten tournament was pleasing to eyes that had viewed the team when the Big Ten record was a gaudy 10-1.

After the Hawkeyes' one-and-done 68-66 loss,   I listened to Iowa's frustrated players and the man in charge of the coaching being interviewed by reporters after the game.

That wasn't pretty either.

Unhappiness with some of the questions, unhappiness with some of the answers.

I know what it's like. I've been there,  I've done that.

The Hawkeyes have now lost 6 of their last 8 games, and, yes, they're reeling.

Reeling badly.

They've obviously played their way out of being in a game or two in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament at Des Moines.

Who know where they'll wind up now? Possibly  a time zone or two away from Iowa City.

Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong with this team.

It is a shadow of what it once was.

Fans being fans, some are blaming the players, others are blaming the coaches.

Some people are saying the players are tired, and maybe they are.

But all teams in every collegiate league are tired at this stage of the season.

They played all summer, they began organized practice in October, they started playing games in November.

You'd be tired, too, if you followed that schedule.  I know I'd be tired.

People know the clock is ticking on this Iowa team.

If it doesn't recover quickly, the season will be over.

They're right.

More About Not Making Sense


My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut sounded off the other day about the terrible newspaper coverage around here of the Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament that Northern Iowa won.

Now there's more.

A reader named Herschel sent me this email:


"I'm pissed that  the Des Moines Register didn't send a sportswriter to the Missouri Valley Conference for the first time in history.

"I found out that Andrew Logue of the Register is going to the Quad Cities to cover the Missouri Valley Conference women's basketball tournament, where UNI and Drake are the top two seeds.

"BUT he won't be covering the championship game...which doesn't make any sense especially if Drake plays UNI for the title."

MESSAGE TO HERSCHEL:  You're right, it doesn't make any sense. But very little makes sense anymore in the newspaper business].

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Strong Early Defense, 25 Points By Turner Scott and 19 By Quinton Curry Lift Valley [21-3] To 61-56 Victory Over West Des Moines Rival Dowling [20-4] In the Opening Game Of Class 4-A High School Tournament At Wells Fargo Arena. The Tigers Next Foe Is No. 1-Seeded Pleasant Valley [23-1] At 1:30 p.m. Friday


Valley's basketball players seized the West Des Moines city championship today, but had a much larger goal on their minds when the game ended.

The Tigers' 61-56 class 4-A victory over city rival Dowling moved them one step closer to the school's first state high school championship since 1993.

The next barrier to clear is No. 1-seeded Pleasant Valley, which improved its record to 23-1 with a 57-42 shellacking of Dubuque Senior.

Valley takes a 21-3 record into Friday's 1:30 p.m. semifinal round game against Pleasant Valley at Wells Fargo Arena.

Anyone who pays attention to high school athletics in metropolitan Des Moines knows the red-hot rivalry Valley and Dowling carry on throughout every season of the school year and beyond.

Every boys' and girls' event that matches the Tigers and Maroons is huge.

Ask any athlete.

Ask any parent.

Ask any other fan in any part of the city.

If there's a better high school rivalry in this state, somebody's got to prove it to me.

The campuses are just a few miles apart, and you can count on it that a number of the players on both teams have known one another since they were in Little League competition, or, heck, in diapers.

Eventual large-school champion Dowling ended Valley's football season in the semifinal round last fall in Cedar Falls.

You know as well as I know that the outcome of today's basketball game--the opener in class 4-A--was thoroughly unpredictable.

Dowling crushed Valley in the Tigers' gym in their first regular-season game.

Valley returned the favor later in Dowling's gym. 

The Tigers took charge early today and never trailed in the game that mattered most.

They owned a 30-20 halftime lead and were in front by 16 points a couple of times in the third quarter before Dowling snapped back to make a game of it.

Indeed, the Maroons chopped their deficit to 42-39 heading into the fourth quarter. 

Valley's defense had been superb early, but faltered as the game wore on.

However, Tigers such as Turner Scott and Quinton Curry wouldn't let matters get out of their hands.

Scott wound up with 25 points and Curry--connecting on 9 of 11 field goal attempts--had 19. Curry had a game-high 6 rebounds.

Sam Ingoli scored 17 and Stevie Sarcone 15 for Dowling, which finished the season with a 20-4 record.

Valley, West Des Moines 21-3
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
04 Economos, Pete...... *  2-3    1-1    1-3    1  2  3   2   6  3  0  1  2  31
10 Scott, Turner....... *  6-11   2-2   11-12   0  2  2   0  25  5  7  0  1  31
22 Marble, Carlo....... *  3-8    1-4    3-7    0  4  4   3  10  1  1  3  2  32
30 Long, Peyton........ *  0-2    0-1    0-0    1  4  5   4   0  0  0  0  0  26
44 Curry, Quinton...... *  9-11   1-2    0-0    2  4  6   2  19  3  2  1  0  30
02 Hinkle, Austin......    0-1    0-1    1-2    0  0  0   0   1  0  0  0  0   2
32 Crowley, Charley....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   2   0  0  0  0  0   8
   TEAM................                            1  1
   Totals..............   20-36   5-11  16-24   4 17 21  13  61 12 10  5  5 160

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-18 61.1%   2nd Half:  9-18 50.0%   Game: 55.6%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-6  50.0%   2nd Half:  2-5  40.0%   Game: 45.5%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  5-6  83.3%   2nd Half: 11-18 61.1%   Game: 66.7%    6

Dowling Catholic, West Des Moines 20-4
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
02 Scieszinski, Cole... *  3-6    1-3    3-3    1  1  2   3  10  3  1  0  4  32
12 Kern, Joey.......... *  1-7    1-7    2-2    1  1  2   0   5  1  1  0  1  28
32 Ingoli, Sam......... *  5-9    2-2    5-6    1  3  4   3  17  7  5  0  0  25
44 Sarcone, Stevie..... *  6-7    3-3    0-0    0  4  4   1  15  0  3  0  1  28
50 Brown, Ted.......... *  2-6    0-0    2-6    0  1  1   5   6  0  0  1  0  28
10 Dougherty, Brendan..    0-3    0-1    0-0    0  2  2   4   0  1  0  0  0  12
24 Eastman, Luke.......    1-1    1-1    0-0    1  1  2   0   3  0  2  1  0   7
   TEAM................                         2  1  3
   Totals..............   18-39   8-17  12-17   6 14 20  16  56 12 12  2  6 160

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  6-15 40.0%   2nd Half: 12-24 50.0%   Game: 46.2%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-6  33.3%   2nd Half:  6-11 54.5%   Game: 47.1%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  6-10 60.0%   2nd Half:  6-7  85.7%   Game: 70.6%    3

Officials: Marshall Cotton, Patrick Ensminger, Bob Squiers
Technical fouls: Valley, W Des Moines-None. Dowling Catholic, WDM-None.
Score by Periods
Valley, West Des Moines...................   16   14   12   19  -   61
Dowling Catholic, West Des Moines.........   12    8   19   17  -   56 
Fouled Out - Dowling Catholic - #50 T Brown (1:47).
Points in the paint-VALLEY 28,DOWLING 20. Points off turnovers-VALLEY 22,DOWLING 15.
2nd chance points-VALLEY 4,DOWLING 4. Fast break points-VALLEY 6,DOWLING 0.
Bench points-VALLEY 1,DOWLING 3. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-0 times.
Last FG-VALLEY 4th-03:50, DOWLING 4th-00:08.
Largest lead-VALLEY by 16 3rd-05:38, DOWLING None. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016



As many of you know, My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut is a longtime fan of Northern Iowa athletics.

Naturally, Al has been on Cloud 9 since the Panthers earned a spot in the NCAA's Big Dance Sunday with their last-second victory over Evansville in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

Al was still flying high a couple of hours ago when he came over for a cup of Italian Dark Roast.

"Are you thinking of going to The Dance?" I asked him.

"No, the missus hasn't been feeling all that well," Al said. "She and I will watch the games on TV."

I wasn't surprised by  that. Al and Diane have been retired for a number of years and, like a lot of other retirees, they're on fixed incomes. 

Diane has a pension, Al doesn't.

It doesn't help matters that Diane isn't feeling all that chipper. She's already been to the walk-in clinic, so I hope she feels better soon.

"I was wondering something," Al said to me. "During the Valley tournament, I read the paper at Hy-Vee--like I do every other morning.

"I noticed that the paper didn't send a staff writer to cover the UNI and Drake games in St.
Louis. A penny-pinching deal if I ever saw one. Hell, if it was Iowa State or Iowa in their conference tournaments, the paper would've had two reporters in each place. Maybe photographers, too.

"Can you ever remember the paper not sending a reporter to the Valley tournament in other years?"

"No, I can't remember it happening," I said. "I covered the tournament a number of times when I worked there. The Valley is a class league and runs a class tournament. I, too, was shocked the paper didn't assign a reporter to make the drive to St. Louis."

"Do you suppose they'll cover UNI in The Dance?" Al asked.

"I'd say it depends on where UNI plays, and if the paper can scrape enough money to put a tank of gas in the company car," I said.

"Give me another cup," Al said.


I notice stuff like this. Perhaps the best reporter in the state these days is Ryan J. Foley of the Associated Press. He works harder, has more bylines and more outstanding stories in the Des Moines Register than a lot of the folks who are on the paper's payroll.


If I were an Illinois football fan, I wouldn't be as giddy about the hiring of Lovie Smith as the
Lovie Smith
football coach as some people seem to be. What has Smith ever done to prove he can recruit Big Ten-caliber athletes? When is the last time he recruited anyone? Who knows if his X's and O's are going to move the dial at Illinois, a sadsack operation if I ever saw one?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The rumors being peddled by a few pessimists that the Hawkeyes had forgotten how to play basketball, and that their coaches had forgotten how to draw X's and O's on the clipboard were obviously greatly exaggerated. That was quite a performance Iowa turned in its victory tonight in a rousing Big Ten regular-season finale at Michigan. It should give the Hawkeye faithful confidence that this team is still capable of doing some productive things before the the season ends. Congratulations, too, to the Ankeny Centennial girls for their victory over Johnston in the class 5-A state championship game at Wells Fargo Arena. I was able to watch the last half on channel 11. I went into into the night thinking Johnston was the better team, but Centennial proved me wrong.

There may be more screwed-up collegiate athletic departments than the one at Illinois, but I can't think of any offhand. I guess a guy knows he's not well-thought-of when he's fired as a university's football coach a week before spring practice is supposed to start. Illinois' Bill Cubit was canned this morning, three months are receiving a two-year contract. New athletic director Josh Whitman pulled the plug on him. Cubit had a 5-7 record last season as the interim coach. I hope when he went house-hunting when he came to town, he decided to rent, not buy. Now, as they say in the rumor business, multiple sources are saying Lovie Smith [who also hasn't proven he can keep a job] will be the new coach. He and the Illini deserve each other.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The folks at Drake Athletics informed me on Facebook that the Bulldogs' 36th-ranked men's tennis team knocked off No. 33 Iowa, 4-3,tonight at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center. It was Drake's second straight victory over a Big Ten foe. "Hats off to Iowa for coming in here on our home court on a rowdy Friday night with a great crowd and putting up the fight that they did. Credit to our guys for handling that pressure after falling behind and being able to steal the win in the end," Drake coach Davidson Kozlowski said. Drake has a quick turnaround as it hosts Michigan State at 6 p.m. Saturday, then No. 65 Cornell on Sunday at 11 a.m.

A horrible 7-24 basketball season ended for Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament at St. Louis. No one expected the Bulldogs to do anything significant in the tournament, and they didn't. They didn't do anything significant all season, and what a shame it is that Drake, a proud university, and Des Moines, a proud city, had to put up with a miserable season like this one. The late Maury John, who put Drake on the national basketball map in the 1960s and 1970s, wouldn't believe it. The old "wait 'til next year" talk is wearing thin with me. I just wish Tom Davis had a few more seasons left in him. He and his son Keno rescued the Drake program the last time it was in this sadsack shape, and Tom is the only guy I can think of right now who might be able to inject some life into it again.

Tom Davis

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

5-10 Senior Guard Turner Scott Lights Up Ankeny Centennial for 38 Points, Propels Valley To State 4-A Tournament With 68-51 Victory. Tigers Play West Des Moines Crosstown Rival Dowling At 1:05 p.m. March 9 In Opening Game Of 4-A State Meet. Both Teams Have 20-3 Records

Courtesy Valley Tigers/Twitter


It was time for a senior to step up, and a senior did just that.

Guard Turner Scott, who stands only 5 feet 10
inches and will play his collegiate basketball at Truman State, put on a sensational 38-point performance tonight to send Valley of West Des Moines to the state class 4-A state high school basketball tournament with a 68-51 victory over Ankeny Centennial.

The game was played at Dallas Center-Grimes. 

TheTigers punched their ticket to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines for the state tournament for the second time in three seasons. 

It will be Valley's first trip to the state meet with B. J. Windhorst as its coach.

The Tigers take a 20-3 record into a 1:05 p.m. game Wednesday, March 9, against crosstown West Des Moines rival Dowling, also 20-3, in the opening game of the 4-A state tournament.

 Dowling is seeded No. 4, Valley No. 5. The teams split their two games during the regular season.