That's Eric May, whose dunk wasn't exactly "thunderous"--sorry, but the NBA has spoiled us--but was still the most immediately obvious display of above-average athleticism on the team yesterday. For a squad that has essentially played the last three seasons below the rim, having someone who can make these plays and isn't automatically overwhelmed by an Evan Turner type of player is a large bonus.
Dochterman asked Todd Lickliter about this, and, well... let's say the lazier stereotypes about Lickliter as a system coach aren't likely to be debunked. Blocked shots, Mr. Lickliter. Good? Yes?
May has 23 blocked shots, more than half of Iowa’s total number. Yet it’s not an encouraged trait by Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter.
"I’m not a huge proponent of blocking shots," Lickliter said. "I think it takes you out of position.
Okay, before you get out your torches and pitchforks--do people use torches and pitchforks anymore? Shouldn't it be, like, gas cans and tire irons? We digress--that quote is selectively edited; here's what Lickliter continued to say:
"You’ve got to have a talent for it, a special knack for it. But the thing about Eric is he’s shown he does have that.
"There’s times when he takes himself out of position, but there’s also some times when he makes some great plays on the ball. He’s a guy I’m more inclined to say, ‘Balance this out, Eric. I want you to take charges, I want you to stay in position.’ But I’m not going to discourage him for attempting to block because we’ve seen some really great plays on the ball."
Okay, not so bad. What's more impressive is that they're strictly a function of May's athleticism; as Lickliter also points out, this is May's first season in the Big Ten, and he's got lots of mistakes to correct and cues to pick up on. That's not a knock on May's IQ--basketball or otherwise--it's just the reality of the situation whenever you've got a true freshman not named John Wall or Carmelo Anthony trying to play 30+ minutes a game.
On that note, we're delighted that May is starting and playing lion's share minutes; that means those minutes aren't going to Devan Bawinkel, who tends to vacillate between being a one-trick pony and a zero-trick pony. And doesn't that make Lickliter's decision to give Bawinkel a captaincy over Matt Gatens all the more inexplicable?
Oh well. That'll be little more than an odd footnote as the years go by. In the meantime, assuming May improves from year to year*. For now, we begin the campaign to install May as the Big Ten freshman of the year. Eric M. is President. Make 'em clap to this.
*That's not a stone-cold lock, mind you; I wouldn't say Bawinkel, Cole, or Gatens have been any better this season than they were last year. Of course, if we wrote "this is the best we're ever going to get out of May!", this blog wouldn't be very enjoyable to read at all.