Look at me, I can be centerfield. Iowa baseball took two of three from Illinois this weekend at
Brad Duane Banks Field, improving to 12-16 (3-3 in the conference). The Hawkeyes dropped the Friday game 9-8 after blowing an eighth inning lead, but rebounded with a pair of two-run wins Saturday and Sunday. Illinois coach Dan Hartlieb took a moment to praise the Iowa pitching staff, which is nice.
Iowa baseball is never going to be confused for Florida State or Texas; the talent pool is too small, the climate is too cold, and the conference is too weak. Head coach Jack Dahm's job is made even more difficult by the fact that the quirky college baseball schedule (the season begins in February) means his team typically plays six weeks of road games before their first homestand. Still, while Iowa won't be going to Omaha anytime soon, a mid-table finish in the Big Ten and a berth in the conference tournament probably isn't too much to ask. Given the accolades thrown this team's way after a win against Kansas and a couple of near-misses against Texas, things appear to be moving in the right direction. I will now look away and whistle innocently while passing that doubleheader we lost to Michigan State last week by a combined score of 42-11.
Welcome to the swift, fiery destruction of Iowa basketball, part 2: The Cougilling. John Bohnenkamp looks for a silver lining in Iowa basketball's fourth annual Black Friday*:
The number of players who have left the Hawkeyes since 2007 bothers Iowa fans, and it hasn’t allowed the program to build a stable foundation. And yet, former coach Todd Lickliter might have been better off had he chased off some of the upperclassmen he inherited early on, instead of letting them drag down the program internally.
That’s how you have to look at the developments of today, especially in Fuller’s case. If McCaffery’s rebuilding project is going to work, he needs everyone working toward a common goal and to buy into what he’s planning to do. If Fuller wasn’t happy, there’s no sense having him around to infect a locker room that already has plenty of divisions. As for Larson, if McCaffery wants him, he should recruit him as hard as possible, sell the program, and hope the kid buys in. If he doesn’t, and goes somewhere else, well…
Look, John is correct to say that wholesale defections are common in a coaching change; players commit to a coach as much, if not more than, a school, and may be aggrieved when a trusted authority figure is shown the door (especially when paired with a wholesale change in philosophy, as it has been hyped here). If Larson and Brust (and, to a lesser extent, Fuller, though the writing is on the wall that Fuller was gone regardless of whether Lickliter stayed or left) wanted to play in the Lickliter system and don't want to play in this new scheme, so be it. But initial comments from Brust tell otherwise (I don't recall any comments from Larson prior to Friday), so something has shifted. If it's McCaffery badmouthing the previous regime, which would be unsurprising given how he handled the Lickliter-related questions at his introductory press conference, it's either extremely cynical or monumentally stupid. It is not in any way different than denying your best returning player a captaincy to force him out or telling a much-needed guard returning from disciplinary suspension that your player rotation is already set when it clearly isn't. We've already played this game before.
* -- Yes, yes, that's racist kid gif.