Loosen up, Coach. The camera can't really steal your soul.
The basketball team is not good. Let’s be clear about that upfront. This isn’t about them; it’s about you and what kind of a fan you are. That’s right, Kemosabe, I’m questioning your fanhood.
Everyone loves winning and being a fan of a winning team is easy. But that’s not how we do it here in the heartland. We like hard work, "gym rats", and copious amounts of turnovers. If you haven’t laid eyes on them, trust me when I say - there is nothing easy about the 2007-2008 Iowa Hawkeyes. The previous administration of [name redacted*] skipped town for the desert. He didn’t just leave the cupboards bare; he stripped out the plumbing and took the drywall, too. Good riddance, I say! [Name redacted] was here for the better part of a decade and left us with nothing but a curiously strong hate for hot tubs and men who wear their hair like they did 25 years ago. He’s gone now and he’s not coming back. It’s time to put that to bed.
He also left us with a batch of players who were not developed, at all, from the moment they set foot on campus. I challenge you to tell me what his "signature" was. We weren’t known for anything under [name redacted], other than maybe players regressing between years 1 and 4 and/or players who never smiled while on the floor. This team may not be athletic and exciting, but they are going to be known for something – defense.
The Terminator, in happier times.
I’ve seen more of a definitive defensive strategy in the past month than I saw at any time in the past decade. Every shot, pass, and dribble-drive is challenged. Nothing will come easy against these Hawkeyes. These kids are working together, as a collective unit, to stop the opponent from getting the ball in the basket. I know, it sounds like an obvious strategy, but it’s something new for these kids, and it shows. Dolph said the basketball was unwatchable, and perhaps it was, from a beauty standpoint, but I’ve had more fun watching these guys work their asses off and compete this month than I’ve had watching an Iowa team in years. There's a ferocity about them that I've not seen. It's not that phony "I'm going to dive on the floor more than you" crap either; they're not like a pack of wild dogs, they're more like the Terminator. It's a concerted, guided, planned effort, to drive the opponent insane and to force them into taking bad shots. This system has worked for Lickliter before and I'm confident it will work here as well. We may lose 20 games this year, that's the reality of the situation, but we will not go quietly. We will fight and battle for 40 minutes, every single game. We will get better. We will improve. In fact, we're getting better already. The guy I've been most excited about is Seth Gorney. You heard me!
Seth Gorney is not a gifted athlete. He was given a scholarship because he’s a giant. He’s been a whipping boy since the minute he got on campus. He’s been called a stiff, a wasted scholarship, and many other unspeakably horrible things (in my living room). The thing is, you have to look at what you’re getting with a guy like him. He’s never going to jump out of the gym or run the floor and finish with a thunderous dunk. You have to take what he does, improve on it, and put him in a position to succeed. Coach Lickliter knows this. In just 4 games this season, Seth established career highs in scoring and rebounding. What’s more, he’s learning, to play, the game. That is what college basketball is about. I read this quote a month ago (in the Register and I'm not linking to them because it's been published elsewhere and they can go fly a kite!), and it stuck with me:
"These coaches, they’re here to help you. If you make a mistake, they’ll work with you and help you work through it instead of just yelling at you for doing something wrong and not helping you fix it."
That right there, sold me on the new administration and the new direction of this team. I have no expectations of wins and losses. I don’t want to finish last in the Big 10, but I’ve been saying it for years -- I'd rather lose with a new guy than win with [name redacted] -- and I meant it. I'm buying into this team, right now. I'm not going to wait until they win the Big 10 in a few years. They need us now. I haven't been to a game at Carver Hawkeye in 3 years and I'm going over there as often as possible this winter. To further show my commitment: I'm adopting Seth Gorney. When someone blows by him like he's nailed to the floor or when he misses a bunny, I'm going to yell, "Come on, Big Boy!" rather than... well, the stuff I used to say (sorry about that big guy:). I'll share him with you or you can adopt your own Hawkeye - think about it.
Oh yeah, my question: What kind of a fan are you?
* I checked with Orson and he said it’s OK for us to borrow this.