Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Way I Feel About It


One thing to keep in mind as the NCAA Final Four approaches is that the first two games will be played on April Fool's Day.
Which means, of course, is that anything can happen and probably will.
The opening game at 5:09 p.m. Saturday In the University of Phoenix Stadium at Glendale, AZ [a massive football arena that can seat anywhere from 63,400 to 78,600] sends Gonzaga, a team with an awesome 36-1 record; against South Carolina [25-10].

That's a tough one for me because, down deep, I'd like both teams to win and I know--as Uncle Otto used to say-- it ain't gonna happen.
I like the situation with South Carolina because of its coach, Frank Martin, who dressed in outfit that exhibited the school colors in his team's most recent game and has been regarded as so much of an underdog throughout his life that he's probably got the word tattooed across his chest.
I didn't expect ol' Frank and his players to be in the Final Four anymore than you did, but here they are 2 victories away from winning a national championship.
Still, I don't want it to happen. Sorry about that, Frank.
I want Gonzaga, the small Catholic university that recruits worldwide, to win. I've written it before and I'll write it again. Some aspects of The Gonzaga Story remind me of Drake in the 1968-69 season.
There will always be a soft spot in my heart for coach Maury John and that group of Drake Bulldogs.
That makes it impossible for me to want South Carolina to win.
Saturday's second game, which is scheduled to start at 7:49 p.m., sends Oregon [33-5] against North Carolina [31-7].
That's an easy call for me.
I never want North Carolina to win any basketball game. The Tar Heels have already won far too many of 'em.
I felt the same way when Oregon played and beat Kansas in the game that got the Fighting Ducks to the Final Four.
Kansas, like North Carolina, is a basketball blueblood and has won so many games--many of them very big games--throughout history that it's sickening.
I've never cared much for bluebloods.
So there you have it from my perspective.
But don't forget, like I wrote earlier, Saturday is April Fool's Day. Anything can happen and probably will.
I'll see you in front of the TV.
It'll be fun.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Quite a Record

You know by now that I write a lot about my 6 grandchildren, the youngest of whom is Megan.
I guess that's called a grandpa being proud of his grandkids.
Megan is a senior at Valley High School, and recently wound up 4 years of being one of the student managers for the Tigers' football and basketball teams.
Megan's dad figured out the won/lost totals of the teams.
"Not too bad," he said.
Not bad at all.
Indeed, it's quite a success rate.
Dating back to her freshman year, Megan was the student manager for Valley football and basketball teams that won 126 games and lost only 18.
Valley's 2015-2016 boys basketball team won the class 4A state championship, and the 2016-2017 team was the state runnerup.
The 2014-2015 Tiger girls team for which Megan served was a student manager was a class 5A state tournament runnerup.
In the two accompanying photos, Megan is pictured with her grandpa after the final regular season home game of the 2016-2017 season, and also in a solo shot.

Here's the breakdown.
Season Sport Record Finish
2013-2014 .Freshman Football 9-0 -----------
2013-2014 Varsity girls basketball 22-2 State quarterfinalist
2014-2015 Sophomore football 8-1 ------------
2014-2015 Varsity girls basketball 23-3 State runnerup
2015-2016 Varsity football 10-3 State semifinalist
2015-2016 Varsity boys basketball 23-3 State champion
2016-2017 Varsity football 10-1 State quarterfinalist
2016-2017 Varsity boys basketball 21-5 State runnerup

Let's Hope the Guy Can Coach


Drake's new basketball coach is Niko Medved, whose 2016-17 Furman University team has a 23-11 record, tied for the Southern League regular-season championship and he was named the league's top coach.
Furman is still playing in the postseason tournament, whatever the hell that is.
All good and well. But will Medved's success at Furman transfer to success at Drake?
After all, his job at Drake is very, very challenging.
He must rebuild a program that has been on a decline for what seems forever.
The Bulldogs have done little since Keno Davis' 2007-08 team had a 28-5 record and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Medved is 43 years of age, which hopefully is young enough for him to have the ability and motivation to do the strong recruiting and provide the coaching knowledge necessary to win games and bring fans back to the Knapp Center.
"I am ecstatic about the opportunity to be the next men's basketball coach at Drake University," Medved said."'Drake University's tremendous reputation partnered with its strong leadership and the thriving Des Moines community make this a special place. I was born and raised in the midwest and have so many strong roots in this part of the country. My family and I can't wait to get started."
Medved has revitalized the Furman program, taking over a 7-victory team in 2013 and progressing to 9, 11, 19, and 23 victories in successive seasons.
Medved has also coached back-to-back Southern Conference players of the year Stephen Croone and Devin Sibley, Jr. In just his third season at Furman in 2015-16, Medved guided the Paladins to a 19-16 overall record, a third-place finish in the Southern Conference, and the school's first postseason victory in 40 years.
He coached Furman to a school-record 14 home victories during the 201516 season.
Medved spent six seasons as an assistant coach at Colorado State under current Nebraska coach Tim Miles. Before that, he put in a year as an assistant at Minnesota under Dan Monson Medved was the Gophers' interim coach in 2006.
"Niko Medved brings proven ability as a head coach to build a successful and sustainable men's basketball program to Drake," university president Marty Martin said. "He is a highly effective recruiter, great at player development, and an excellent coach on both sides of the ball."
Furman is a university of 2,700 undergraduate students in Greenville, S.C.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Wonderful Job, Oregon


Wonderful job, Oregon. 

And I sure hope all of you Kansas players, coaches and fans have a great time watching the rest of the tournament on TV.
Speaking of coaches, I noticed that Bill Self of Kansas--supposedly one of the nation's best--didn't bother taking any of the blame in his televised postgame comments for why the Jayhawks weren't emotionally or physically prepared in what amounted to a Kansas home game for an Oregon team that gave the university its first Final Four appearance in 78 years.
Shame on you, Bill.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Holy Water & Other Stuff


As I was leaving Mount Olive Lutheran Church this evening, I shook hands with Pastor James Brammeier and thanked him for keeping the service short.
"Why do you say that?" the longtime man of the cloth asked.
"Because two Catholic universities are playing each other in the NCAA basketball tournament," I explained. "Now I know I'll be able to watch the last half on TV."
I didn't mention it to Pasror Brammeier, but I'll tell you that I had holy water sprinkled on me many years ago by a very nice Catholic priest at St. Theresa's Church in Des Moines after my niece was baptized.
I am the beautiful young lady's Godfather, and maybe the priest figured I needed over-the-top treatment at that stage in my life.
So I figured I'd better give special attention tonight ro an NCAA Elite Eight game between two well-known Catholic universities that would send the winning team to the Final Four.
When I finally was able to see some of the game, Gonzaga of Spokane, Wash., was 20 or so points ahead of Xavier of Cincinnati and went on to win big, 83-59.
The victory meant Gonzaga, a school with 7,421 students, qualified for its first Final Four in the NCAA's Big Dance.
As I watched Gonzaga's players celebrate on the court following the victory, I couldn't help but think about another private university that went to its first [and only] Final Four 48 seasons ago.
I'm referring, of course, to Drake, which took eventual national champion UCLA to the wire before losing, 85-82, in the 1969 tournament at Louisville In the semifinal round, then went on to absolutely manhandle Dean Smith's North Carolina team in the third-place game, 104-84.
Gonzaga's nickname is the Bulldogs, Drake is the Bulldogs. Spike the bulldog is Gonzana's mascot, Spike the bulldog is Drake's mascot.
Similarities, similarities.
As the years have flown by, it's easy to forget what a marvelous achievment it was for Maury John, then the Drake coach, to magically guide his ream to the Final Four.
I don't think we appreciate enough what that man did.

Nobody's Happy


It's hard telling whose basketball fans are the unhappiest today--Indiana's, UCLA's or maybe even Iowa's.
The reason for such widespread emotion is that Steve Alford decided he wouldn't resign as UCLA's coach and go to Indiana, where he was a standout player many moons ago.
Once the decision-makers at Indiana learned that Alford didn't have interest in succeeding the fired Tom Crean, they named Archie Miller of Dayton today as their nexrt coach.

Shortly after UCLA lost to Kentucky, 86-75, in an NCAA Sweet Sixteen game at Memphis, Tenn., Alford said he's not loading the wife and kids into the family SUV and moving to Indiana.
There are a lot of UCLA fans who wanted him to take the Indiana job, and there are a lot of naive Indiana fans who think Alford actually knows how to coach and wish he would've come to the campus in Bloomington.
As for Iowa's fans, many of them would have liked Alford--who coached the Hawkeyes from 1999-2007--to return to the Big Ten so Iowa could've kicked his butt on the court.
Frankly, they don't think he knows that much about coaching. When he resigned at Iowa to take the New Mexico job in 2007, it was not a happy ending.
Many Hawkeye followers were thrilled that he was bailing out.
Alford is pictured in his years as Iowa's coach.
UCLA's fans are now frustrated and disappointed.
They wonder how Alford's team could end Kentucky's 42-game home winning streak in December, then lose to the Wildcats in the Big Dance when it mattered more in March.
Alford will lose four starters from this team--including freshman Lonzo Ball, who will be an early signee with an NBA team and also Alford's own son.
Prior to last night's game, I wrote that I hoped neither Kentucky nor UCLA would win. But the phone lines to the NCAA offices at Indianapolis were always busy when I called to ask if that was actually possible.
Just kidding about that.
Whatever. I finally picked Kentucky as the team I wanted to win. It was plainly a case of choosing the lesser of two evils.
Never in my worst and wildest nightmares did I think I'd be wanting Kentucky and its coach, John Calipari, to win a game--certainly not a game in the Big Dance.
Now that Calipari has knocked UCLA out of the tournament, I can resume hoping his Kentucky team loses.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Here's What I"m Hoping for Tonight


Here's the schedule for tonight's NCAA men's basketball tournament and how I hope the games turn out:

6:09--Butler vs. North Carolina. I like any team called the Bulldogs and I don't have much time for an outfit whose nickname is the Tar Heels and is coached by Roy Williams. North Carolina has already won 5 national championships, and that's enough. Consequently, I'm on Butler's bandwagon, at least when it comes to this game.

6:29--South Carolina vs. Baylor. Just to prove I have nothing against a basketball team with Caroliha in its name, I hope South Carolina wins. I know I'm disappointing my friend, Baylor and coach Scott Drew fan Paul Delger. But Paul and I have known each other long enough that he is aware it's nothing personal and it's all in fun. I'm going with Frank Martin, the South Carolina coach who is the son of Cuban political exiles. Besides, ol' Frank is just a little bit goofy in my estimation.

8:39--UCLA vs Kentucky. Both schools have had more than enough NCAA basketball success. UCLA has won 11 national championships and Kentucky has won 8. The fact that I'm not particularly fond of either coach [Kentucky's John Calipari and UCLA's Steve Alford] also influences me. I hope both teams lose, and I've got a call into NCAA headquarters to see if such a bizarre thing can happen.

8:59--Wisconsin vs. Florida. I hope the Badgers win the national championship. To accomplish that, they can't lose to Florida or any other opponent that confronts them in this tournament. So don't
screw it up now, Wisconsin. I'm a Greg Gard fan. He's the Badgers' coach who waited a long, long time to finally get a head coaching job, and now is making the most of it.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Drake Gets Screwed Again


A 44-year-old guy with no hair [at least on his head] is the latest person to pull the wool over the eyes of people overseeing the athletic department at Drake University.
His name is Craig Smith, and he resorted to the oldest trick in the coaching manual to get a pay raise at the University of South Dakota.
Smith [or someone working for him] let it "leak" a few weeks ago that he might be quitting at South Dakota and taking charge of a hapless Drake men's basketball program.
I heard the rumor a while back while eating blueberry pie on free pie day at Village Inn.
I almost choked on a blueberry,
I didn't believe it any more than I believed Bobby Knight would come out of retirement and coach at Drake because he didn't want Maury John to be the only Bulldogs coach to take a team to the Final Four.
Smith, who is pictured, was no more going to take the Drake job than he was going to be a Supreme Court justice.
He wanted to let his bosses at South Dakota know that he might be looking for employment elsewhere so they'd pay him more than the $196,000 a year he was already making.
Smith got exactly what he wanted.
Now he's got a sweeter deal at South Dakota, and the naive people at Drake are still looking for a coach.
Drake has known for months that it would need a new coach. One guy quit after the first few games of the 2016-17 season. His supposedly temporary replacement lost his last 10 games.
Other universities are hiring new coaches a day or two after the old one either quit or was fired.
The whole deal about folks at Drake continually dragging their feet makes me sick.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Like I predicted, retired Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross came out swinging last night in his premier appearance on ABC-TV's "Dancing With the Stars."
Ross turned 40 years of age Sunday and was known as Grandpa when the Cubs won the 2016 World Series.
His dancing partner is professional Lindsay Wagner, and they scored 28 out of a possible 40 while doing a cha-cha version of the Cubs' theme song "Go Cubs Go!"
“That was one of my favorite dances of the night,” judge Carrie-Ann Inaba said.
I was doing something else and wasn't able to watch the show, but I've talked to some veteran "Dancing With the Stars" viewers and read enough stuff on the Internet to draw a few conclusions.
The fact that each of the four judges gave Ross and Wagner, dressed in Cubs uniform-type sequined outfits, an identical 7 score provided further proof to me that "Dancing With the Stars" and all of those other TV shows like it are scripted.
In other words, fixed.
And "fixed" is not a word you want to use around professional baseball.
Ask Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Chicago Black Sox about that.
I mean, how and why would all four judges give Grandpa and Wagner 7's?
I'm predicting Ross and Wagner will stay on the show only as long as ABC wants them to stay on it--regardless of how many votes they get from viewers.
When the network bosses feel and Grandpa and Wagner aren't doing the TV ratings any good, they'll be [in baseball terminology] released.
I also pretty much feel the network bosses already know who they want to win.
But what the heck, as long as Ross and Wagner keep looking good and keep bringing some game to the show, it's fun watching 'em.
People thought it was fun watching Ross's young daughter on the program, and hearing him say, “My goal is to show my kid it’s OK to try something you’re afraid of.”
Great stuff, Grandpa.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Quandary


I'm in a quandary.

I can't decide if I want Gregg Marshall or
Steve Alford to be Indiana's next basketball coach.
Oh, I know neither guy exactly needs another job.
Marshall is already being paid $3.3 million a year to coach at Wichita State.
Alford's salary at UCLA is $2.6 million a year.
But the names of both Marshall and Alford are significant among those being tossed around to be the successor to Tom Crean, who was fired at Indiana a day after his team lost a game in a postseason tournament no coach wants his team to be in--the NIT.
The reason I'd kind of like Marshall to land the Indiana job is because I think he and his wife Lynn [especially Lynn] need a change of scenery.
I think Lynn has outgrown Wichita, KS.. Or maybe Wichita has seen enough of Lynn.
Let me tell you about Lynn, who is pictured, courtesy of Google.
She had to be escorted out of her seat in the arena after her husband's Wichita State team lost to Kentucky 65-62 yesterday in a second-round NCAA tournament game at Indianapolis.
Two reporters sitting in front of Lynn thought she'd had a couple of adult beverages too many, and that may have been the reason she was throwing the "F" word around so many times during and after the game.
Security people talked with her several times during the game, but that didn't stop her from shouting at Kentucky coach John Calipari to "shut the "F" up, and saying some other things you don't expect to hear a coach's wife saying in public.
Final statistics on the game did not include Lynn Marshall's blood-alcohol level, but I think she is exactly what Indiana University and the city of Bloomington deserve.
If her husband were to get the Hoosiers job, she'd light up the campus and the city the way they haven't been lit up since Bobby Knight was ccaching Indiana.
Indiana basketball needs a kick in the butt, and Lynn Marshall is just the person who can handle it.
Now to Alford, who once had a coaching stint at Iowa [1999-2007], and didn't leave the job exactly on the best of terms. One of his players there was Pierre Pierce. Enough said.
I don't have enough time and space to write about that mess.
After Iowa grew tired of Alford, he took the coaching job at New Mexico. He's been at UCLA since 2013.
Hand it to the guy. He has one of the best teams in America this season at UCLA, and it's one that could win the national championship.
At least one of his freshmen, Lonzo Ball, will be playing in the NBA as early as next season.
Alford played on one of Knight's teams at Indiana that won an NCAA championship, and Hoosier fans certainly are fond of him.
Dan Dakich, the former Indiana player who now is a TV and radio guy and has an opinion on everything, thinks Alford should be Indiana's coach.
If Dakich thinks so, I guess it should happen.
Because Alford still has a team in the NCAA tournament, he thinks it's necessary to be coy when asked about the Indiana job.
“When I quickly trusted God and my faith, my journey has taken me to a place I had no idea that was going to be my journey and I’ve fallen in love with every spot,’’ he told reporters. “I’ve met great people, great institutions. …
“I love Los Angeles. You’re talking about arguably the greatest brand anywhere on the planet, and we got things going at a very high level now and we’re very excited about it. We’re excited about being in this tournament and seeing what we can do in this tournament.’’
“I can’t control what gets talked about....We’re very focused on what we’ve got to do.’’
I think Alford would fit right in at Indiana. People say you can't go home again, but he is something special and he could go home again. Just ask him.
I think it would be great having Stevie-boy bring his Indiana team into Iowa City for a game in the next year or so.
I'll bet the ticket people at Carver-Hawkeye Arena wouldn't have problems getting a full house

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rave Reviews


I'm sending rave reviews to coach Jennie
Baranczyk and the players on her Drake women's basketball team.
The Bulldogs' season ended today with a 67-54 loss to Kansas State in the NCAA tournament at Manhattan, KS, but they have a lot to be proud as the book closes on a banner 2016-17 season.
Drake won the regular-season championship in the Missouri Valley Conference with an 18-0 record, then seized the league's tournament title, had a 22-game winning streak and wound up 28-5.
Those are some kind of numbers.
I mean fantastic numbers.
What these Bulldogs did was almost beyond belief.
It's hard telling when, or if, another Drake team does what this one accomplished.
Congratulations to everyone associated with the team for an incredible season.

Saturday, March 18, 2017



A bigtime heartbreaker, that's what I'm calling it.

And I'm sure you're not feeling all that great about it either.
Actually, I kind of hate to use a word like heartbreaker because I know there are plenty of people reading these essays who've had coronary bypass surgery or are outfitted with such lifesaving devices as pacemakers and defibrillators.

So I hope all of those folks who watched on TV as Iowa State wiped out a 19-point deficit only to lose to Purdue, 80-76, tonight in a second round NCAA basketball tournament game at Milwaukee made it through all 40 minutes without having to make a trip to the emergency room.
For the Cyclones, for guys like Monte Morris, Deonte Burton, Nazareth Jersey Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas, it was an absolutely agonizing way to lose a game and end the season with a 24-11 record.
They looked down for the count when they fell behind, 58-39, in the last half.
But there's tremendous fight in this team, and it was clearly evident when Iowa State took a 73-71 lead and appeared ready to keep marching down the NCAA trail to perhaps yet another game against Big 12 riival Kansas.
But it didn't happen.
Purdue has a player named Caleb Swanigan, who stands 6 feet 9 inches, weighs 245 pounds and is quite the battler himself, as well as a tremendous basketball player.
Swanigan scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had seven assists for a Boilermaker team that won the regular-season championship in the Big Ten.
Swanigan was named player of the year in the conference, which is quite a tribute to a man who weighed 380 pounds as an eighth-grader, but had the personal discipline to lose more than 100 pounds and turn himself into a likely National Basketball Association player.
While watching the game on the tube, I was texting with a number of people, three of whom were my sons.
It was interesting to read observations and opinions streaming into my iPhone 6S as the dramatic game progressed.
"I told Julie [his wife] at the 12-minute mark when the Clones were down 12 that they were going to win the game," texted my son Lonn.
Steve Prohm, Iowa State's coach, his players and Cyclone fans everywhere wished Lonn had been right.
At another point, one of the kids texted, "Swanigan is unconscious."
Unconscious meaning the guy was doing everything perfectly.
That he was at various stages of the game.
Just think, so-called collegiate basketball experts around the nation have been saying all season that the league's overall strength in 2016-2017 doesn't measure up to what it's been in past years.
Don't try telling that to teams such as Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State.
Unfortunately for Iowa State's players and coaches, it will be Swanigan and the rest of the Boilermakers who will be playing in the Sweet Sixteen next week instead of them.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


If you didn't have fun during that one, you've forgotten how to have fun.
All basketball games are fun to watch when there's a lot racehorse offe
nse, dunk shots and 3-pointers, plus sometimes very little defense.
I know I had fun watching Iowa State exhibit all kinds of athletic skills while defeating Nevada, 84-73, in front of a massive Cyclone crowd tonight at the NCAA tournament in Milwaukee.

This was the first day and night of the tournament, and I'll tell you this: I watched some of most of today's and tonight's games, and I didn't see a team that was any better than Iowa State.

The Cyclones are playing at an absolutely outstanding level.
Certainly not all of the time in every game. But most of the time.
I wrote earlier this week that I think they can go deep in the tournament, and I feel that way even more now.
Iowa State built a 40-27 halftime lead and virtually shot at will against a phantom Nevada defense. The TV announcers kept saying there were Nevada defenders on the court, but I never saw 'em.
Nevada did play better in the last half. Iowa State's lead slipped to 4 points for a short time, but the Cyclones had enough to finish the job and earn a game Saturday against Purdue in the next round.
I mentioned how much fun it was to watching tonight's game.
Certainly for me.
Another person who sounded like she was having fun was Debbie Antonelli, one of three TV announcers to broadcast the game on something called the Tru TV network.
Antonelli, who is from Charleston, S.C., has been a sportscaster on the national scene for 20 years. Today she became the first woman to serve as an analyst [not do sideline work] during a men's NCAA tournament since Ann Meyers in 1995.
She did other games prior to the Iowa State-Nevada game in Milwaukee today, and I thought she did an excellent job.
So did the Cyclones.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Evidently the rumors of Rembrandt's death are greatly exaggerated.
The history books say the legendary painter died in 1669.
I'm starting to think the history books are wrong.
Or else someone is doing a fantastic job of masquerading as
the old boy.
Only an artist like Rembrandt could be painting this incredible Drake women's basketball picture that gets better every day.
All the Bulldogs do is win.
Coach Jennie Baranczyk and her team were the unbeaten Missouri Valley Conference champions, and today they seized the league's postseason championship.
They've punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament, and there's no telling when--or if--they'll ever be stopped.
Enjoy the ride.
I know I am.

I'm On the Cyclone Bandwagon


Talk about a basketball team that's got it
A team that's on a roll.
A team that's red-hot at the right time.

A team headed for even more big things.
That's what I think of Iowa State.
I'm picking the Cyclones to definitely make it to at least the Elite Eight in the Big Dance.
Hey, now I'm going one step further.
I think Iowa State will make it to the Final Four.
The Cyclones are that good.
I'm on the bandwagon.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Iowa City West Too Much for Valley


Well, the McCaffery brothers--Connor and Patrick--sure had a better week than their dad.
Their dad, of course, is Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery, whose team was crushed by Indiana, 95-73, a couple of nights ago in the Big Ten tournament.
No such mishap [some would label it an embarrassment] was experienced tonight by Connor and Patrick.
They combined to score 31 points and totaled 13 rebounds in a 64-50 victory by Iowa City West over Valley of West Des Moines in the championship game of the class 4-A state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
Connor will be a freshman on his dad's Hawkeye team in the 2017-2018 season.
Tonight's state title was the seventh for West, and it came in fairly easy fashion over a Valley team that had won 11 consecutive games and hoped to win the championship for the second straight season.
But West, which lost to the Tigers in last season's title game, had far too much talent, far too much power on both offense and defense this time.
The McCaffery brothers weren't the whole show, but they definitely had a strong influence on how West controlled the game at Wells Fargo Arena.
Connor was named captain of the all-tournament team. Valley players joining him on the squad were Quinton Curry and Charley Crowley, the senior twin towers who were defended well all night by West.
Crowley, who was a standout in Valley's victories over Des Moines North and Sioux City East earlier in the tournament, was limited to 7 points by West.
He attempted only 5 shots, and made 2 of them.
"The guards couldn't get the ball into me," he told me after the game.
Curry scored 15 points and had eight rebounds to end a season that didn't go the way he wanted it to go.
He suffered a serious knee injury last summer and didn't play a game for the Tigers until February.
West finished the season with a 23-3 record. Valley was 21-5.
Valley had a get-together of West Des Moines city and school officials, fans, players, coaches, student managers and cheerleaders following tonight's game.
It was held on the basketball court at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse where the Tigers play there games.
The state tournament runnerup trophy was prominently displayed in the center of the gym. Fans, players or anyone else could take or pose for pictures. Many did.
Curry spoke emotionally about what he went through this season.
"My team welcomed me with open arms when I came back," he said, fighting back tears.
Valley coach B.J. Windhorst said, "We've got something special going in this program," which means he expects the Tigers' success to continue in future seasons.

Now I Get My Mail At the Arena


I've spent so much time at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines last week and this week that the Post Office is automatically delivering my mail to me there.
That's what six Valley games in the girls' and boys' state high school basketball tournaments will do for a guy.
It's been worth it. Valley won the girls' stare championship last week, and Valley's boys' team plays for a second straight state title tonight.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Back To Normal

Things got back to normal today in the class 4-A division of the boys' state high school basketball tournament.
1. The public address announcer finally learned how to pronounce Charley Crowley's name.
2, The officials, who seem to come to Des Moines every year thinking their job in the state tournament is to exhibit their whistle-blowing skills whether or not a foul is committed, threatened to ruin a good game played by two good teams [Valley of West Des Moines and East Sioux City] by calling a ridiculous 43 fouls.
3. Defending champion Valley will play Iowa City West for the championship at 8 p.m. tomorrow in Wells Fargo Arena. It's the third time in the last four seasons the teams have played for the 4-A title.
Valley [21-4], which won last season's championship by beating West, advanced to tomorrow's finale by handling East Sioux City, 64-54.
West, with a 22-3 record and Iowa coach Fran McCaffery's two sons [Connor and Patrick, who combined for 33 points] in the starting lineup, had an easier time of it with a 61-37 victory over Kennedy of Cedar Rapids.
Crowley, a 6-8 Valley senior who is playing at a higher level in this tournament than he did at any other time in his career, scored 25 points and hauled in 8 rebounds less than 48 hours after making the winning dunk shot with 3 seconds remaining in the Tigers' victory over Des Moines North.
Like I said, the P.A. announcer screwed up his name throughout Thursday night's game, but ol' Charley didn't let that bother him. The announcer finally was told how to pronounce his name, and Charley again was the star of the show today.
Keep this up, Charley, and you'll be captain of the all-tournament team.
There will be no awards given in this essay to the three officials who worked the Valley-East game.
The whistle-happy zebras called 25 fouls against East and 18 against Valley, making sure they stopped play every time there was even a hint that one player might touch another.
Enough of that.
Following Valley's victory, someone associated with the team put this message on the squad's Twitter site for everyone to see:
"64-54 win. Another gritty performance by this group. Relentless effort & toughness down the stretch. Back at it tomorrow!"

Quit Calling Iowa a Young Basketball Team

I'm tired of people saying Iowa is a young basketball team.
The players don't think or say they're young.
It's the fans and coaches who are guilty of it--usually while looking for a reason or an excuse for why the team played poorly [like in yesterday's debacle against Indiana in the Big Ten tournament].
Iowa has played 32 games this season and the roster is loaded with tall, well-conditioned, strong, athletic physical specimens who play basketball 12 months a year.
Those individuals wearing short pants, tank tops and very expensive shoes while entertaining us are grown men, not young kids.
Sometimes they can have a bad day, just like you and me.
Yesterday was a bad day.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

NIT Here We Come


Well, I guess that does it.

No Big Dance for the Hawkeyes.

"Dead on arrival" is the way a TV guy put it.

No, sir, Iowa's basketball team had no game in a 95-73 loss to Indiana in a Big Ten tournament clunker that was downright shocking In Washington, D.C.

Iowa was supposed to be the team playing its way into the NCAA tournament and Indiana was supposed to be the team on life support.

Guess again.

The Hawkeyes needed to win at least two games in the Big Ten tournament just to be considered for the Big Dance.

What they didn't need was a 22-point loss to a team on the skids like Indiana.

National InvitationTournament here we come.

Dumb Idea


I'm what I guess you'd call a Big Ten guy.
I own a degree from the University of Iowa, a longtime member of the Big Ten Conference.
As a kid growing up in Cedar Rapids, I followed Hawkeye athletics closely.
As a professional writer, I've covered Iowa football and basketball extensively for more than a half-century.
Heck, I even wrote a few things about Hawkeye baseball, wrestling, gymnastics and swimming.
I wrote a book about Hawkeye football and two updated versions of that book.
I participated in a number of the old Big Ten football Skywriters tours.
That said, I see no sense to the Big Ten holding a postseason basketball tournament in Washington, D.C. now and New York City in the future.
I'm writing this as I watch the Iowa-Indiana game on TV in the Big Ten tournament in D.C.
Strange, that's what I call it.
In my opinion, the Big Ten tournament should be held in a centrial location.
That means either Chicago or Indianapolis.
Alternate the tournament between those cities, and keep it out of Washington and New York City.

I'm Glad Tim Miles Remains Nebraska's Coach


Good for the rest of the Big Ten Conference.
Tim Miles, whose Nebraska basketball team had a 12-19 record this season, is coming back in 2017-18.
Terrible coaches like Miles take away from the overall strength of the Big Ten, but coaches and fans of the other teams in the league like it that Miles and others keep hanging around because they're so easy to beat.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Classic

Let's see, I'm trying to think of the best word to describe the high school basketball game I just saw.
Some possibilities:
Oh, well, I guess I'll take the easy way out
and choose all of the above.
And go ahead. Call this one a classic.
Yes, sir, and yes, mam, Valley's 57-55 victory on Charley Crowley's dunk shot tonight with 3 seconds to play sent shock waves and shook the footings of Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines.
Ecstasy on the Valley side of the big building. Agony on the North side, where it seemed most of Des Moines showed up to root for the Polar Bears to beat the huge school from the suburbs that folks in the city can't decide whether to despise or envy.
Crowley is a 6-foot 8-inch senior whose basket ripped he hearts out of those Polar Bear fans who came to the arena hoping to help their team win its 19th game of the season and advance to the class 4-A semifinal round.
Instead, it was Valley [pictured]--last season's 4-A champion--marching into a Friday afternoon matchup with Sioux City East, which eliminated Bettendorf in tonight's opening game.
Crowley probably couldn't believe he was so wide-open to accept the pass, soar upward and stuff the basketball downward for the shot that won the game.
Make no mistake, it was the game of Crowley's life and the winning basket was the field goal of his life.
It gave Valley its 10th straight victory and a 20-4 record in yet another banner season under the guidance of coach B.J. Windhorst.
Stay tuned. Things are just getting interesting