Saturday, January 30, 2016

The philosophies of Confucius were prominent around here again today. 'You can't lose 'em all,' the wise old Chinaman is rumored to have proclaimed many, many basketball seasons ago. Whatever, Drake's 9-game Missouri Valley Conference losing streak is finally over. It's a good thing Bradley came to town to make sure it happened


It's over. 

Drake's dreadful 9-game Missouri Valley Conference losing streak, I mean. 


The Bulldogs' skid ended today because  Graham Woodward scored a career-high 23 points.   

That performance propelled Drake's 80-70 victory over Bradley in front of 3,254 fans at the Knapp Center.  

"It felt like our day as a team," Drake's Kale Abrahamson said. "We kind of forgot what it feels like having a win, and it felt good getting the monkey off of our backs."   

Said coach Ray Giacoletti: “It was important for our team and our program to find a way to get a win today. These guys have been working hard every day, and I'm glad they got rewarded. So now let’s start a streak going the other way."   

You kind of figured if Drake couldn't win at home  against Bradley, a team that's in pretty much the same boat record-wise as the Dogs, it wasn't going to happen at all this season.   

The Braves have an even worse season record than Drake.  

They're 3-20.  Drake is 6-16.  

Both teams now are 1-9 in the Valley.

Friday, January 29, 2016

What a Night. Valley's Sophomores Beat Dowling, 63-60, On a 3-Pointer At the Buzzer In 2 Overtimes. The Tigers' Girls' Team Upset Dowling, 48-44. Valley Alum and Ex-NFL Player Justin Hartwig Gave a Stirring Halftime Speech. And, Oh, Yes, Dowling Dealt No. 1-Ranked Valley Its First Loss In the Boys' Game, 66-49. As 6th Century B.C. Chinese Philosopher Confucius Once Said, 'Hey, You Can't Win 'Em All'

Valley alum and former NFL player Justin Hartwig met fans after the Tigers' basketball games tonight


Valley's fans thought they had Dowling's basketball teams right where they wanted them.

The night began with a heart-stopping sophomore game.

Valley's unbeaten 10th-grade team stayed that way when Luke Sueppel drilled a three-point field goal as time expired in the second overtime, giving the Tigers a 63-60 victory over Dowling.

The girls' game followed, matching 8th-ranked Dowling against No. 13 Valley. The Tigers won it, 48-44.

Two big deals left.

Valley's No. 1-ranked and unbeaten boys' team would take on Dowling, and Justin Hartwig, a Valley graduate and longtime National Football League center who played on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2009 Super Bowl championship team, would appear at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse at halftime and following the boys' game.

The trouble was, Dowling's boys turned in a superb performance and handed Valley its first loss, 66-49, thereby preventing Tiger fans from classifying it as a perfect Friday night.

Oh, well, you can't win 'em all, 6th century B.C. Chinese philosopher Confucius and a lot of basketball coaches since then have always said. 

Valley had to play without 6-foot 4-inch Peyton Long, who has a knee injury. But even the presence of Long might not have prevented a Tiger loss tonight.

Dowling was that good. 

The Maroons had size, shooting, rebounding and coaching.

They ignored the fact that Valley's students, in the spirit of the rivalry with Dowling, turned their backs to them [left] when they were introduced before the game.

Anyway, Hartwig gave a stirring halftime speech to the huge crowd,  presented Valley football coach Gary Swenson and other school officials a gold football [pictured at the right]  and met with fans after the game at a reception.

The football presentation was part of the NFL's Super Bowl High School Honor Roll initiative, which recognizes schools and communities that contributed to Super Bowl history. 
High schools worldwide will receive one football for each player or head coach who graduated from their school and was on an active Super Bowl roster. 
The Honor Roll initiative, which will become an annual Super Bowl tradition, is one way the NFL is celebrating the upcoming Super Bowl 50 through the "On the Fifty" campaign.

Hartwig graduated from Valley in 1997. He played on two Tiger teams that made it to the state playoffs, then was a player at the University of Kansas and was drafted in the sixth round of the 2002 NFL draft.

He was the starting center for the Steelers in their 2009 Super Bowl victory.

Available at the reception tonight were football-shaped cookies and a Steelers cake [pictured below].

I made sure I ate a piece of the cake, and I also had one of the cookies.

Both were delicious.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

This Was a Very Winnable Game


Not just disappointing. 

Very disappointing. 

That's how I describe it.

In collegiate basketball, there are winnable games and there are non-winnable games. 

The game third-ranked Iowa played tonight at Maryland was a very winnable game.

But when Jarrod Uthoff, your go-to veteran guy, is successful on only two of his 13 field goal attempts, and when you're 5-of-24 on three-point tries on the road, you lose.

They've been talking about Uthoff as a possible Big Ten player of the year.

He certainly wasn't tonight.

Far from it.

Eighth-ranked Maryland is a good team, not a super team. 

On this January night in College Park, Md., the Terrapins [I don't call 'em Terps] were good enough to hand Iowa its first Big Ten loss in eight games. 

It was the Maryland's first victory over a ranked team all season.

Hey, I don't recall writing or saying it would be easy for the Hawkeyes in 2015-2016.

It never is.

Mark Robinson Checks In

It was good hearing today from Mark Robinson, a former Iowan who now lives in Arizona.

Mr. Wonderful

Here's his email: 

 "Hello, Ron, 

"It sure has been a while since my last note to you. 

 "We're still living in Tucson and so I get to read the latest about former Iowa basketball coach Lute Olson. 

"Greg Hansen is still writing for the Arizona Daily Star and he thinks it's time to erect a statue of Lute. 

"He notes that other institutions waited too long to do their statue-erecting and thus, the honorees weren't around to enjoy them.

"I've been reading your blog, Ron, and enjoy it as much as I ever did. 

"Hope you are well, and next time I won't wait years to write. 

"These sure are heady times for Hawkeye fans, don't you think? 

"All my best,"

Mark Robinson

Tucson, AZ

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS--I'm glad you wrote, Mark. Now that you're living in the shadows of the University of Arizona, where Lute Olson formerly plied his trade, I'll bet you're willing to pitch in a goodly sum to help pay for that statue of Olson everyone [well, one guy anyway] wants erected. I, of course, am Lute's favorite sportswriter. I covered a lot of his games when he coached at Iowa, and we always got along exceedingly well. I know he appreciated everything I wrote about him because he devoted one entire page to me in his autobiography. Say hello for me to Lute, aka Mr. Wonderful, the next time you see him in the grocery store. Tell him I told you there is no movement
Carver-Hawkeye Arena
whatever to have a statue of him built in the Carver-Hawkeye Arena area of Iowa City. I can't imagine why.  Anyway, I know Lute is anxious for me to come out and have coffee with him in Tucson. That time may be sooner rather than later. I understand lots of snow is predicted for the state of Iowa early next week. So I'm thinking
semi-seriously of taking the next flight out. The Hawkeyes and Cyclones are playing very well this season, Mark. The Panthers and Bulldogs not so well. My main basketball interest these days is Valley High School in West Des Moines, which takes a 14-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in class 4-A into tomorrow night's game against Dowling. Stay warm, Mark.]

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2 Kreklows Were In the House

A guy who knows his Bulldogs tells me Wayne Kreklow attended Drake's basketball game at the Knapp Center
Wayne as a Bulldog
last night.

Wayne was there to watch his son Ryan, a freshman guard,  play for Missouri State.

The guy I mentioned said there wasn't anything in the paper about it. 

He said the paper didn't have a reporter at the game.

Ho-hum and all that crap.

Nothing surprises the guy who knows his Bulldogs these days.

Ryan scored two points and had one rebound while playing 13 minutes in Missouri State's 79-70 victory. 

Wayne Kreklow was a three-year starter at Drake. He was a two time all-Missouri Valley Conference choice, leading  the Bulldogs in scoring in 1977-78 [15.2 average] and 1978-79 [19.5]. 

He graduated ranking No. 3  on the university's  career scoring list with 1,471 points. 

Kreklow once scored 43 points in a 1979 game at Memphis, which ranks  No. 3 on the school single-game charts. 

Obviously, with a Valley record of 0-7 and an overall record of 5-14 this season, Drake would like to have someone like Wayne Kreklow in uniform.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

'I can't say with any degree of certainty that the Bulldogs' problems can be blamed on poor recruiting, poor coaching, poor offense, poor defense or all of the above'


I guess it's time for people to start wondering when, or if, Drake's men's basketball team is going to win a Missouri Valley Conference game in this 2015-2016 season. 

The Bulldogs' league record fell to 0-7 [5-14 overall] tonight in a 79-70 loss to Missouri State in front of only 2,561 fans at the Knapp Center.  

Drake was outscored, 50-31, in the last half. 

I certainly didn't think it would be this bad. 

I've lost touch with the program to the extent that I can't say with any degree of certainty that the Bulldogs' problems can be blamed on poor recruiting, poor coaching, poor offense, poor defense or all of the above. 

I'm ready to ask this question: When are people going to see some signs of competitiveness?  It's a sad situation, and I hope the powers-that-be at the university can figure it all out before the program totally collapses.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Valley High School Named To NFL Super Bowl Honor Roll. Former Tiger and Pro Standout Justin Hartwig Will Present Officials At the West Des Moines School With a Commemorative Wilson Golden Football Jan. 29 At Halftime Of Basketball Game Against Dowling

Valley High School alum and former National Football League player Justin Hartwig will present Valley principal Tim Miller, activities director Brad Rose and football coach Gary
Swenson with a commemorative Wilson Golden Football on Friday, Jan. 29. 

The presentation will take place during halftime at the Valley basketball game against Dowling, which starts at 7:45 p.m. at Valley.  

A reception with Hartwig, held in the Valley commons area, will follow the basketball game.

The football presentation is part of the NFL's Super Bowl High School Honor Roll initiative, which recognizes schools and communities that contributed to Super Bowl history. 

High schools worldwide will receive one football for each player or head coach who graduated from their school and was on an active Super Bowl roster. 

The Honor Roll initiative, which will become an annual Super Bowl tradition, is one way the NFL is celebrating the upcoming Super Bowl 50 through the "On the Fifty" campaign.

Hartwig graduated from Valley  in 1997. A three-sport athlete, he earned all-state honors and
Justin Hartwig
led the football team to the playoffs twice during his time with the Tigers.

After playing at Kansas University, he  was chosen in the sixth round of the 2002 NFL draft, and was the starting center for the victorious Pittsburgh Steelers at Super Bowl XLIII [43] in 2009.

Hartwig played for the Steelers in 2008 and 2009. He was with the Tennessee Titans from 2002-2005 and played for the Carolina Panthers in 2006 and 2007.
The NFL Foundation will also provide Super Bowl High School Honor Roll schools with a new character education curriculum and the opportunity to apply for grants that will support football programs. 

The Valley football program is led by 2012 Iowa
Gary Swenson
Football Coach of the Year Gary Swenson. The Tigers have won five state championships in the past 12 years, most recently in 2011. 

They played in the 2015 semifinal game, ending the season with just two losses.   

More information about the "On the Fifty" campaign can be found at For more information about the Valley High School football team, visit

-- Campus Messenger from the West Des Moines Community Schools

Ex-Indiana and Pittsburgh Steelers standout Antwaan Randle El, who now has memory issues and has trouble walking down stairs, says he wishes he hadn't played football. 'I wouldn't be surprised if football isn't around in 20 or 25 years,' he comments.

Story about Antwaan Randle El courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Photo of Randle-El courtesy of Getty Images.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Our State Is a Great Place To Live, Not Visit In This Wild and Wacky 2015-2016 Collegiate Basketball Season. The Cyclones Became the Third Team from Iowa To Send a No. 1-Ranked Squad Home With a Defeat. Georges Niang Scored 22 Points, Monte Morris 19 and the Defense Rose To the Occasion In An 82-77 Victory Over Oklahoma

Photo of Iowa State fans celebrating victory courtesy of USATS


You know how it goes. 

These basketball teams like North Carolina,
Michigan State and Oklahoma really can't do anything about it.

They've got to go where the schedule-makers tell 'em to go.

And the state of Iowa is not a happy hunting ground for visitors in this crazy 2015-2016 collegiate season.

Earlier, a North Carolina team that was No. 1 lost at Northern Iowa, and a Michigan State team that was No. 1 was beaten at Iowa.

Oklahoma was the latest team to find out that being No. 1 doesn't mean doesn't mean a damn thing when you come into our state.

The Sooners, who had just been placed at the top of the polls, tumbled to a 19th-rated Iowa State team [14-4 overall and 3-3 in the Big 12 Conference] that played the way it's supposed to be playing.

Georges Niang scored 22 points, Monte Morris 19 and--just as important as anything--the Cyclones played tenaciously on defense to put together an 82-77 victory.

Don't call it an upset, though.

Iowa State, playing in front of a roaring crowd at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, was favored to win.

It was a victory dripping with historical significance.

Indeed, an Iowa State basketball team hadn't taken down a No. 1 team in a long, long time.

It was 1957 when the Cyclones sent Wilt [The Stilt] Chamberlain and his Kansas teammates home to Lawrence after beating them in the old Iowa State Armory--long before Hilton Coliseum was built.

It wouldn't have been an official Big Victory at Hilton unless students in the crowd stormed the court, and, yes, it did happen again tonight.

I just hope Randy Peterson stayed out of the way this time.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hawkeyes Are One Of the Nation's Elite Teams


I'm convinced that, at this stage of the collegiate basketball season, Iowa deserves to be labeled one of nation's elite teams.

Hawkeye fans have a lot to be proud of
following tonight's 76-59 victory at Michigan State. 

This Iowa squad is getting it done in a bigtime way. 

The Hawkeyes controlled both ends of the floor, didn't let 4th-ranked Michigan State up for air all night on its home court,  and demonstrated to me that they are much more than a top-10 team nationally. 

Iowa, which has won six straight games and  swept the regular-season series from Michigan State, is playing much better than its No. 16 national ranking.

The way I look at it, the Hawkeyes [who hadn't won on Michigan State's home court since 1993] belong in the top 5. 

Fran McCaffery is doing a wonderful job of coaching this group, and it looks to me like the best is yet to come. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lower-priced tickets aren't the only reason some people are choosing to attend women's collegiate basketball games instead of men's games these days. They've got a women's coach named Jennie Baranczyk over at Drake who's doing lots for women's basketball in this state. Jennie's team has a 10-5 record, with one of the victories over Iowa State, and today her team poured it on Wichita State, 87-56, in a rare road victory in that Missouri Valley Conference series. It was Drake's first victory at Wichita State since Feb. 6, 2009. Winning by 31 points and scoring 55 in the last half were were quite the accomplishments away from home, but coming back from a 3-point halftime deficit was amazing. Jennie said Wichita State had Drake "frazzled" in the opening half, but the Bulldogs shot a blistering 69.2 percent from the field and made 16 of 18 free throws in the last half. Lizzy Wendell scored 27 points for Drake. "I was really proud of our resolve and effort," said Baranczyk, whose team has a 3-1 Valley record heading into a 7 p.m. game against Indiana State Friday at the Knapp Center in Des Moines. Nice job, Bulldogs.

Jennie Baranczyk. Photo courtesy of

A cold day like this meant it was a good time to have a cup of Italian Dark Roast with My Neighbor Al, The Health Nut. Al has been a longtime basketball fan of the team in Cedar Falls that used to be referred to as the Tutors by headline writers at the paper, and now he's happy that Northern Iowa is winning again. He's also wondering if the Bulldogs will ever get their bite back, and so am I


As a few of you may know, My Neighbor Al, The Health Nut is a longtime fan of Northern Iowa athletics. 

I'd say the only person in our neighborhood who comes close to caring as much about UNI as Al does is Brenda, who lives in the corner house down the street.

I mean, Al has followed teams from the school in Cedar Falls even when it was called Iowa State Teachers College, and headline writers at the paper would use "Tutors" as the team's nickname.

Actually, Northern Iowa has had lots of names.

Like Iowa State Normal School from 1876-1909; Iowa State Teachers College [1909-1961]; State College of Iowa [1961-1967] and now the University of Northern Iowa.

My Neighbor Al will go to any length to find out how UNI is doing in basketball and football. 

By "any length," I mean 10 feet or less so he can turn on his TV or radio. 

Al got lucky last night. 

UNI's basketball game was televised by Fox Sports Midwest or something, so he was able to watch the Panthers drub Drake, 77-44. 

"My Panthers haven't been playing all that well since beating fifth-ranked Iowa State last month at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, but maybe they've got their act together now." Al said a few minutes ago over a cup of Italian Dark Roast. 

"But there's still work to do. UNI's record is only 10-7 for the season and 2-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

"A bigger question is Drake. What's wrong with the Bulldogs? They're 0-4 in the Valley and 5-11 for the season. Is there any hope over there?" 

I told Al I haven't been paying as much attention to the Bulldogs as I did 40 or 50 years ago, so I don't have the answer to Drake's problems. 

"I do know there are some really good people working in the administration at the school," I said. "At least they don't have Rudy Washington to kick around over there anymore.

"The present coach says his team 'is not beaten down,' but I guess Drake fans have to wonder what's going on. The Bulldogs don't seem to have much bite anymore.

"I thought Tom Davis and his son Keno coached up a storm and got the program back to where it's supposed to be, but things have been pretty lean ever since."

Al means well, and said he hopes things improve at Drake.

"The Bulldogs are my second-favorite collegiate team," he said. "I'd like to see 'em get off the floor and start beating some teams.

"In fact, I hope they win every one of their games the rest of the way other than the the one against UNI on Feb. 6 at the Knapp Center."

Al added that he's hoping to buy tickets to that Feb. 6 game for himself and his wife Diane.

"I'm planning to wear my new purple T-shirt that day," Al said. "Diane had it made special, and gave it to me for Christmas, wrapped in purple paper.

"It says TUTORS on the front. You don't see many of those anymore. I wore it last night while watching the game on TV."

"Have another cup, Al," I said.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

John Johsnon: The Quiet Man With the Flat Shot

 John Johnson died the other day at 68 years of age in San Jose, Calif.  Johnson played on an the outstanding Iowa basketball team that had a 14-0 Big Ten record and went 20-5 overall  in 1969-70. Here's the story I wrote in 1993 about Johnson for the Des Moines Sunday Register Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

Written by Ron Maly

John Johnson

The voice came crackling across the telephone line from Black Butte Ranch, Ore.

It was Ralph Miller. Now 74, he quickly demonstrated that his memory is just as sharp now as it was when he coached basketball at Iowa from 1965 to 1970. 

"John Johnson is about to be named to the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame," Miller was told. "Got any good stories about him?"

Miller said, "The funniest one I can recall happened when John first began practicing with our 1968-69 team."

The scene was Iowa Fieldhouse, where the Hawkeyes then played their games. Johnson, a 6-foot 7-inch forward from Milwaukee, Wis., had come to Iowa from Northwest Junior College in Powell, Wyo.

"I watched practice a while, and said, 'John, your outside shot is just too flat.' "

Johnson was stunned.

"Aw, come on, coach. I've been shooting that way all my life, and doing pretty well," he told Miller.

"Correct," the coach responded. "But your shot is still flat, and one of these days you'll figure it out."

In Johnson's first game as a Hawkeye, he scored 21 points against Cal Poly.  In his second, he collected 12 against Northern Michigan.

Then came game No. 3. Wisconsin-Milwaukee was the opponent in Iowa City.

"Johnson broke the school scoring record with 46 points," Miller said. "With a few minutes left in the game, and before he set the record, he was fouled.

"The public address announcer [told everyone in the arena]  he needed one more point to break the record. I'll bet he went to the free throw line four or five times, but couldn't make the free throw that would have given him the record.

"Then he finally made another field goal and set the record. The next morning he came to me and said, 'Coach, I need some help with my shooting. I've never missed that many free throws in my life.' "

John Howard Getty Johnson -- the man commonly known as J.J. -- made many more field goals and free throws, and grabbed 509 rebounds in his short two-year Iowa career.

He wiped out his own Iowa game scoring record with 49 points against Northwestern in 1970, a mark that still stands.

After all these years, he ranks 16th on Iowa's all-time scoring list with 1,172 points in 49 games -- a 23.9 average. His 699 points and 27.9 average in the 1969-70 season are Hawkeye records.

So today, after his brilliance at Iowa and after a 12-year National Basketball Association career that ended with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1982, Johnson becomes the 134th member of The Des Moines Sunday Register's Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

"Johnson was the best player I've seen play at Iowa -- or maybe anywhere else," said Glenn Vidnovic of Iowa City, a forward alongside Johnson on the 1969-70 Hawkeye team that won the Big Ten title with a 14-0 record and went 20-5 overall.

"Rick Mount of Purdue was named the most valuable player in the Big Ten in 1970, but that was a joke. Johnson should have gotten it. He definitely was a super player."

Another Hawkeye starter that season was guard Chad Calabria, who also recalls Johnson's unorthodox shooting style.

"Yes, he'd shoot those line-drive shots," Calabria commented. "But he was a great all-around player. He played defense, he was a great leaper, he rebounded and he was a great passer. For a guy who stood 6-7, he moved the ball very well."

Calabria, who lives in Beaver Falls, Pa., said Johnson had a great desire to win.

"We didn't do too well as a team in John's junior year after he transferred from junior college," Calabria said. "It was like a learning process. But, as seniors, we meshed as a team."

Iowa had only a 12-12 record when Johnson and Calabria were juniors. But Johnson averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and was named the Hawkeyes' most valuable player.

Then came 1969-70 when, after a not-so-great non-conference season, Iowa was unstoppable against Big Ten competition. The Hawkeyes lost three of their first five games, and closed the non-conference schedule with only a 4-4 record.

But they lost just once more the rest of the season -- a 104-103 thriller against Jacksonville in the first game of the NCAA Mideast Regional. The NCAA still held third-place games in those years, and Iowa closed the season with a 121-106 romp past Notre Dame for the Mideast consolation prize.

Johnson and Calabria each scored 31 points against Notre Dame. Johnson finished second in Big Ten scoring with a 14-game average of 31.8.

Iowa averaged 102.9 points in conference games to become the highest-scoring team in Big Ten history. The record still stands.

In his 49 games as a Hawkeye, Johnson averaged 10.4 rebounds. Just as when he was a junior, he was Iowa's most valuable player as a senior.

"John was very versatile," Calabria said. "He could play guard as well as forward. Many of the guys on the team were interchangeable."

Johnson and Vidnovic started at forward, Calabria and Fred Brown were the guards and Dick Jensen and Ben McGilmer shared the starting center job.

"It was a very unselfish team," Calabria said. "Everyone got the ball to the other players."

Brown also went on to an illustrious NBA career and became a member of The Register's Hall of Fame in 1990.

Johnson now lives in the Seattle, Wash., area, where he was a teacher and coach in the Bellevue, Wash., school system. He now leads a very private life and declined to be interviewed for this story.  

However, Dick Schultz was another who joined Miller, Vidnovic and Calabria in showering praise on Johnson.

Schultz, who was an assistant coach at Iowa when Johnson played, is now the outgoing executive director of the NCAA.

"John was a pleasure to work with, and he was a first-class guy," Schultz said. "When he was still in junior college in Wyoming, I think it came down to Johnson choosing between Iowa and Utah State, and we were very happy to get him.

"So many times when you recruit a junior-college player, all you get is one real productive year out of him. But John fit right in as a junior.

"As a senior, he was terrific. Had we been a team that went with just one individual, I felt Johnson could have given Mount a battle for the Big Ten scoring title. But John -- like the others on that team -- was unselfish."

Miller called the 1969-70 team the best passing team in the nation. He added that he hasn't seen a better one in college basketball since.

Johnson was a first-team all-America choice of the Helms Foundation and Basketball News in 1970. Later, in the NBA draft, he was the seventh player chosen in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In his first two professional seasons, he was chosen for the NBA All-Star Game. Johnson stayed with Cleveland for three seasons, later went to Portland and Houston, and spent his last four seasons with Seattle.

In 1979, Johnson picked up an NBA championship ring with the Sonics

Friday, January 8, 2016

Valley Girls Were Caught In An Indianola Basketball Buzzsaw


This is the swan song for Indianola High School in the Central Iowa Metro League, and there
are plenty of girls' basketball fans from Valley of West Des Moines who are likely saying, "Too bad it didn't happen a year sooner."

Third-ranked Indianola improved its record to 11-0 tonight by absolutely crushing No. 4 Valley, 72-52, at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse in West Des Moines.

Just three nights earlier in the same gym, Valley [7-3] had knocked off a Waukee team that then was No. 1 in the state's class 5-A rankings, 62-59.

But the Tigers were no match for Indianola, which rode a 30-point performance from 6-foot sophomore Grace Berg, 19 from 5-11 freshman Maggie McGraw and superb play at both ends of the court to what I regard as a stunning victory by the Indians and a shocking loss by Valley.

Late last season in Valley's gym, I watched Indianola steamroll Winterset in a game that sent the Indians to the class 4-A state tournament.

Now Indianola is a class 5-A school, but still is joining the Little Hawkeye Conference at the start of the 2016-2017 school year to be alongside such schools as Pella, Pella Christian, Norwalk, Dallas Center-Grimes and Grinnell  after being a member of the CIML for a number of  years.

The decision to move to the Little Hawkeye was made by Indianola officials a year ago.

Evidently, they felt the school couldn't consistently compete athletically [especially football] with CIML suburban Des Moines schools such as Valley, Waukee, Johnston, Urbandale, Ankeny and Ankeny Centennial.

Now, though, I'm wondering if there aren't some people in Indianola who might be wondering if moving out of the CIML is such a wise decision.

I mean, I'd stack the Indianola girls' team I saw tonight up against any 5-A team in the state right now.

It'll be interesting to see what happens Jan. 26 when Indianola plays at Johnston, which is now the No. 1-ranked class 5-A team.

Indianola was more athletic, shot better, defended better, did everything better than Valley tonight.

Whatever Valley tried, Indianola had an answer.

A solid answer.

Valley and Indianola aren't scheduled to play during the remainder of the regular season.

Unless they're matched against one another in the tournament, tonight's game could have been the last between the schools in the forseeable future.

It'll be interesting to see how the Indians fare during the rest of the 2015-2016 season--especially in that game at Johnston later this month.

I'll be watching. 

By the way, Valley's No. 1-ranked boys walloped Indianola, 80-37, in tonight's second game.

Maybe that's part of the answer to why Indianola will be in the Little Hawkeye Conference, not the CIML, next season.

My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut, says he likes this tweet from Fake Bo Pelini: "I've smashed my head lots of times and never had short-term memory loss, headaches, double vision or short-term memory loss."

Bo Pelini

Monday, January 4, 2016

Numbers game: Kansas scored 109 points tonight in a basketball victory over Oklahoma.that--according to ESPN announcers [and hype specalists] Brent Musburger and Dick Vitale--was the greatest game played since James Naismith invented the sport in 1891. Kansas' football team scored 108 points during its Big 12 Conference schedule in 2015


Stanford Standout Christian McCaffrey Reminds NFL Quarterback Kirk Cousins Of Former Hawkeye Dazzler Tim Dwight. 'Dude Could Score Anytime He Touched the Ball,' Cousins Says


This interesting tweet from  Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is making the rounds:

Tim Dwight
"Stanford's Christian McCaffrey reminds me of Iowa Hawkeyes legend Tim Dwight. Dude could score anytime he touched the ball."

Cousins is certainly correct about McCaffrey, as Hawkeye fans found out in the Rose Bowl game.

McCaffrey did a number [well, actually, lots of numbers] on Iowa in Stanford's 45-16 victory. 
Christian McCaffrey

The 19-year-old sophomore scored on the first play of the game--a brilliant 75-yard pass play--and  set a Rose Bowl record with 368 all-purpose yards.

He has quite a future ahead of him. 

The son of former National Football League standout Ed McCaffrey will  a favorite [at least my favorite] for the 2016 Heisman Trophy, and is certain to be an NFL standout after completing his Stanford career.

Dwight had quite a banner collegiate and NFL career himself.

However, Iowa fans never thought Hayden Fry, his coach at Iowa, got Dwight the ball often enough.

They always wanted more from the 5-8, 185-pounder who lettered as a Hawkeye from 1994 through 1997.

Dwight finished his Iowa career with Big Ten records  for punt return yardage [1,102] and punts returned for touchdowns [5]. 

Dwight held the Hawkeye record for career receiving touchdowns [21] until 2011, when his numbers were surpassed by Marvin McNutt. 

He held the team record for career receiving yards [2,271] until 2010, when Derrell Johnson-Koulianos surpassed those figures.  

In 1997, Dwight was a consensus first-team all-American and finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting.

In a standout NFL career, Dwight played for the Atlanta Falcons, Sanr Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders.
Kirk Cousins

Ralph Woodard, his grandfather, was a defensive end and tight end for Iowa in 1945, 1947, 1948 and 1949. He received undergraduate and medical degrees from the university. He had a Fort Dodge and Okoboji background.

Cousins was a Hawkeye fan as a kid, but wound up starring as a quarterback at Michigan State before going to the NFL.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Stanford Rose Bowl Standout Christian McCaffrey, Who Had a Record 368 All-Purpose Yards In a 45-16 Victory Over Iowa, Is the Grandson Of Dave Sime, a Multi-Sport Athlete Who Was a World-Class Sprinter At the Drake Relays In the 1950s

Dave Sime in his sprinting days

Barry Crist of West Des Moines, a longtime Hawkeye sports fan, filed this interesting Facebook post in the wake of Stanford's 45-16 romp past Iowa in the Rose Bowl football game:

"Childhood memories flooded my mind when Brent Musburger talked about Christian McCaffrey's heritage. I did not know that his maternal grandfather is Dave Sime,  a hero of mine when I was a young boy.

"Sadly, the Des Moines Register did not have a feature story on Dave Sime before the Rose
79-year-old Dave Sime now
Bowl, as he is a Drake Relays legend. The Register is now just a local McPaper.

"On a cold rainy day at the Drake Relays in 1956, Dave Sime beat Abilene Christian's Bobby Morrow in the 100-yard dash on a cinder track that had standing water. Mud and water were exploding from their feet as they sped down the track. Sime won in the time of 9.4. I know this because, as a young boy, I was in the stands with my father. The picture of that finish was in the Drake Relays programs for many years.

"Sime later held the world record in the 100- and 220-yard dashes and the 220-yard low hurdles. However, he hurt his leg before the Olympics and Morrow went on to win the gold in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay in the Olympics in Melbourne.

"Sime was a baseball player at Duke. At 6-3, he was a swashbuckling centerfielder with a shock of bright red hair. He signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers, which thrilled me, as I am a Dodger fan. Either an inability to hit the curveball or the lure of Duke Medical School ended his baseball career. Players in those days did not earn astronomical salaries like they do today. Sime became a successful eye surgeon.

"The Duke football coach asked him to come out for football due to his astronomical speed. Special plays were designed for him and he torched Notre Dame in his first year of football with long plays. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but never signed in the NFL.

"Duke University honored Dave Sime as their greatest athlete of the century."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS--Well done, Barry. Great memories of long ago, when Dave Sime starred at the Drake Relays.  I've got to hand it to Brent Musburger, too--or at least the
Christian McCaffrey in the Rose Bowl
researchers at the ESPN network--for calling viewers' attention to the fact that Christian McCaffery, the Stanford back who stole the offensive show at the Rose Bowl, is the grandson of Dave Sime [pronounced Simm]. ESPN kept showing former NFL standout Ed McCaffrey, Christian's father; Lisa McCaffrey, Christian's mother, and another son of Ed and Lisa in the grandstand during the Rose Bowl while Christian was running wild against Iowa. McCaffrey scored on a 75-yard pass play with the game only 11 seconds old and set a Rose Bowl record with 368 all-purpose yards.  The 19-year-old sophomore became the first player in Rose Bowl history to total more than 100 yards rushing and receiving.
McCaffrey looms as the favorite to win the 2016 Heisman Trophy. Barry Crist mentioned that the paper didn't carry a word about the fact that Christian McCaffrey is the grandson of Dave Sime.  Obviously, no one at the Register knew about that connection. Furthermore, after Musburger's mention on ESPN of the McCaffrey/Sime family connection, no one in the Register newsroom relayed the information to the two reporters covering the game. That didn't surprise me, and it shouldn't have surprised anyone else.  The understaffed paper. and the naive people working there, missed a lot of interesting stuff before, during and after the Rose Bowl. That's just how it goes these days at that place].

Evashevski's 1958 Team Was Iowa's Best


In the event you were wondering, Iowa's 1958 football team that was coached by Forest Evashevski is still the best the university has ever had.

I realize a couple of misguided folks might have been thinking the 2015 Hawkeyes, who won their first 12 games, perhaps deserved to be No. 1.

No way.

In my book, when you fall behind Stanford at halftime, 35-0, in the Rose Bowl, then lose the game, 45-16, you don't get any kind of No. 1 ranking.

The way I look at it, this season's team--after losing to Michigan State, 16-13, in the Big Ten Conference championship game and then being blitzed by Stanford in the Rose Bowl--ranks No. 6 on Iowa's all-time power list.

Here's my ranking:

1. The 1958 Big Ten championship team that had an 8-1-1 record, including a  38-12 shelling of California in the Rose Bowl.  Evashevski's team was ranked No. 1 nationally by the Football Writers Association of America. The Hawkeyes led the nation in total offense. Quarterback Randy Duncan was a consensus all-American, was named the Helms Foundation Player of the Year and received the Walter Camp Trophy. Iowa's Bob Jeter ran for 194 yards and was voted the MVP of the Rose Bowl.  The Hawkeyes set Rose Bowl records for total offense [516 yards] and rushing yardage [429]. 

2. The 1956 Big Ten title team, also coached by Forest Evashevski, that went 9-1 and whipped Oregon State, 35-19, in the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl was Iowa's first-ever bowl game, and the Hawkeyes made the most of it. Quarterback Kenny Ploen ran for a 49-yard touchdown and was named the game's MVP. Iowa's Collins "Mike" Hagler scored two touchdowns and totaled 85 yards on the ground.

3. The 1939 team led by Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick that had a 6-1-1 record that included successive home victories over Notre Dame and Minnesota. The team was coached by Dr. Eddie Anderson, a physician who occasionally examined patients at University Hospitals in Iowa City on the same day he conducted football practices. Kinnick, a  classic Heisman Trophy winner, took the nation by storm. Many thought the highly-intelligent, smooth-talking Kinnick would someday be the governor of Iowa [perhaps even president of the United States], but a tragic plane crash ended his life during World War II.

4. The 2009 team that went 11-2 and defeated Georgia Tech, 24-14, in the Orange Bowl.  Kirk Ferentz's team won road games at Iowa State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State. Iowa's Brian Bulaga was named the offensive lineman of the year, and Ferentz was voted coach of the year in the Big Ten for the third time.

5. The 1985 team coached by Hayden Fry that went 10-2 and could have been ranked much higher had it not been for a head-scratching 45-28 pummeling it took from UCLA in the Rose Bowl. The Hawkeyes spent five weeks as the nation's No. 1 team. Quarterback Chuck Long was named the winner of the Maxwell Trophy and the Davey O'Brien Quarterback Award. Long and Larry Station were consensus all-Americans. 

6. The 2015 team that was pretty good until it got to the Granddaddy Of 'Em All in Pasadena. Again, a mystifying collapse.

The last thing I'm going to spend much time writing about is the Stanford band, which was booed off the field by Iowa football fans at halftime of the Rose Bowl game. Some would call members of the band idiots; some would call them fun-loving college kids keeping up a tradition. I call them goofy. I saw 'em in TV coveragade of the Rose Bowl parade, and I saw 'em on the tube at halftime of the game. Iowa fans were already in a bad mood at halftime because the Hawkeyes were losing, 35-0. ESPN, which broadcast the game, didn't think much of the Stanford halftime show because they quickly cut to a commercial when the band started getting ornery. Not everyone at Stanford likes what the band has been doing because the group was banned from appearing at road games this season duee to unruly off-the-field behavior [I know some football players who've been guilty of that]. I guess the Rose Bowl isn't classified as a road game. Anyway, the band managed to piss off Iowa fans at halftime of the Rose Bowl game by making reference to the Farmers Only TV commercial and displaying a cow costume. After being booed off the field by Hawkeye fans, the band sent this message on Twitter: "Glad you liked our corn show, Iowa! Couldn't tell, was that booing or mooing?" That's the last thing I'm planning to write about the Stanford band. Their football team won the game, 45-16.

Stanford Goofiness

Friday, January 1, 2016

I Say Burn the Game Film


I'm going to keep this short. 

No sense in writing a ton of words about today's Rose Bowl game. 

You saw it, I saw it. 

Stanford was far and away a much better football team than Iowa. 

There's no other way to put it. 

That's why the Cardinal won, 45-16. 

Stanford had a do-everything, record-smashing back named Christian McCaffrey, who facially looks like the 15-year-old kid who lives across the street from me or from you, and asks if we want him to mow the lawn or shovel the snow.  
Christian McCaffrey

But don't let the looks fool you. 

McCaffrey has the talents and the smarts of a National Football League player. 

Iowa couldn't stop him and couldn't catch up with him on what turned into a day when the Hawkeyes were no-shows on the huge national stage.

The 19-year-old McCaffrey, a sophomore, broke the Rose Bowl record for all-purpose yardage with 368.

That stated, I say burn the game film.